GYM owners open their doors today (Saturday June 6) for the first time in almost three months with a big question hanging over them – will people feel safe enough to return?
Gyms were identified as Covid-19 hotspots when the virus took hold in the Chinese city of Wuhan last November and were amongst the first business to be closed under tight social distancing regulations.
But Jetts South Fremantle manager Johnny Young says they’ve introduced a raft of measures to make the franchise’s 750 members feel safe and his gut feeling is raising a sweat isn’t the only consideration for quite a few.
“It’s a mental health thing; I have a lot of people calling, with a lot of calls to do with ‘I can’t handle not training and being stuck at home’,” he told the Herald.
The gym will be restricted to 40 people at a time, and owner Peter Young says a big challenge will be enforcing social distancing rules, as many people work out together and would normally be in close proximity.
“You can do lifts, but not with an assistant, so the weights will have to be lower,” he said.
The gym can only open during business hours, as the McGowan government’s easing of restrictions has come with a rider that a Covid-trained staff member must be on hand at all times.
Manager Johnny said they normally have a lot of nurses and hospitality workers who work late shifts who use the gym at night, while tradies often come in to flex their muscles at 4am before they started work.
He said they’ve introduced four cleaning sessions during the day and will now open 6am-10am, 11am-2pm, then 4-8pm to give them time to give everything a wipe-down.
There are also extra hand santising stations and they’ve even introduced a new foot-activated door opener so users don’t have to touch the handle.
Mr Young said he struggled financially while in shut-down, having to draw on some savings while scraping through on JobKeeper, but there was still plenty to do.
“I was here every day on administration, keeping members happy, supporting them, giving them hope that we would re-open he says.”
Unfortunately a nearby pilates studio appeared not to have survived the Covid blitz, with signs down and no sign of life.
Franchisee Peter says it’s been tough on the industry, but he managed to get by with the help of an understanding landlord, relief from Synergy and Jetts Australia agreeing to waive franchise payments.
By STEVE GRANT