Easing of lockdown rules starts to work out for Welsh gyms and pools

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools have reopened in Wales, and the relaxation of rules has meant some friends and family have been able to hug for the first time in months.

Rigorous Gym owner Warren Sinden, right, with Mark Lewis as gyms and other leisure sites in Wales have reopened
Rigorous Gym owner Warren Sinden, right, with Mark Lewis as gyms and other leisure sites in Wales have reopened

The steps mark the latest progression out of lockdown from the Welsh Government, with the next stage – reopening of indoor pubs, restaurants and all tourist accommodation expected to take place on May 17.

Under the latest changes organised children’s indoor activities and indoor adult fitness classes have also been able to resume, while two households can now form an exclusive bubble and meet indoors.

It comes with the rate of Covid cases at its lowest in Wales for eight months.

In Welshpool Warren Sinden, the owner of Rigourous Gym, was one of the first to open up the doors – not letting the bank holiday get in the way of welcoming back members for the first time since last year.

Rigorous, which hosts Welshpool Amateur Boxing Club, personal training, fitness classes and a gym, has been closed since December, when Wales entered the latest lockdown.

Mr Sinden, who has run the gym for seven years, said he was pleased to be able to welcome people back, after a ‘mind numbing’ few months without being able to open.

He said that he understood the need for the lockdown, but questioned whether gyms should have been allowed to find ways of running sessions outdoors, or at limited numbers during the past few months.

He said: “I think gyms could have been allowed to work on a lower capacity, one-to-one, with fewer people per square foot.

“It is not just for fitness because we are a boxing gym, it is sport as well and that is massive to people.

“We did outdoor sessions for a few days last year and they went really well with the weather but I don’t see why they could not continue with a lower number of people.”

Mr Sinden said that while people were excited to get back to training, he was also pleased to be getting back to work.

Left, trainer Warren Sinden and right, Mark Lewis

He said: “It is good for me. Everyone talks about the impact of sport and fitness on mental health but I love doing my job so not being at work and doing that has had an effect on me.”

The staggered rule changes – where England has opened gyms earlier than Wales – has also led to a situation with some people in Wales who want to train crossing over the border where they can work out.

Mr Sinden said that there was a frustration at the different rules and their effect.

He said: “A lot of my guys have been travelling to Shrewsbury to train there but they haven’t been able to train in their home town.”

Pre-lockdown there would have been around 100 visits to the gym from people training throughout the week, and Mr Sinden said he was looking forward to seeing it build up again in the coming days and weeks.

Mid Wales meanwhile has also seen major leisure centres, the Flash in Welshpool, and Maldwyn in Newtown, reopening for the first time since December.

The council-owned leisure centres were both welcoming swimmers and gym goers back.

The latest easing of lockdown was the final act of the current Welsh Government before Thursday’s election.

The relaxation of the rules had originally been planned for May 10, but was brought forward because of a drop in cases.

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