No excuses to lose those lockdown pounds as the region’s gyms reopen
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Gyms across the region reported a flurry of customers as they opened their doors for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the latest easing of lockdown rules, indoor gyms, swimming pools and other leisure centres reopened on Saturday.
For David Smith, the director and owner of CrossFit Spitfire on Salhouse Road in Norwich, it was like “the second coming” as members eagerly returned.
There was even a surge in the number of potential new members, with free trials booked up for the next two weeks, which Mr Smith said had only happened when the gym opened four years ago.
Mr Smith said: “All classes were fully booked and everyone was emotional to come back and it was emotional to coach. It was like the first day back at school but in a good way. My wife even had a cry. People were loving it and we were relieved to be back.
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“While our members had been working out at home, and we were running online classes in lockdown, they were desperate to be back in an actual gym.”
During lockdown, Mr Smith spent six weeks renovating the gym and said not a surface had been left “untouched.”
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He said: “Normally as business you wouldn’t be able to close for such a long period of time. So we spent weeks and weeks doing it up. We’ve done everything from repainting every surface to completely new artwork. It was a good opportunity to re-calibrate and it feels like a new business.”
Meanwhile, the gym has introduced a series of measures to protect both exercisers and staff, from a queuing system outside to designated work out spaces which are distanced more than 2m apart.
Classes are now 50 minutes of exercise and ten minutes of cleaning, compared to an hour-long work out previously.
Mr Smith said: “It ran like clockwork and we were all really pleased with how it went. It inspired confidence in people.”
Maria Collins, managing director at BOX30 on Roundtree Close in Norwich, said the first day back was “really busy” with three new members also joining the gym.
She said 97pc of existing members prior to coronavirus had rejoined.
Ms Collins said: “There was a good flurry of customers to our first classes and then there has been a steady flow which is really positive.
“Everybody was a bit anxious when they first arrived about where to go and what to do but we made it very simple and everybody felt normal and at home.”
To keep the gym Covid-19 secure, Ms Collins said, all staff had undergone training, classes were running at a reduced capacity and the gym was being fogged.
In North Walsham, Rossis also started welcoming back members to its gym, studio and pool - but with limited numbers in each space at a time.
Liam Killington, sport and fitness manager, said: “It’s been really good to see all the old faces, everyone’s been really positive and itching to come back.
“People are finding that they maybe can’t do what they couldn’t do before, they maybe put on a bit of weight as well, but that’s to be expected after five months.”
Owner, Bruce Rossi, said as well as social distancing, government guidelines set a minimum for fresh air change, which they had already exceeded.
Elsewhere, The Gym Group’s new Lowestoft site, at the Gateway Retail Park, officially opened on March 3, but lasted just 18 days before being forced to close due to the pandemic.
Having reopened the gym on Saturday morning, manager Jesse Payne-Wilkins said: “It has been really good to open our door again and welcome our members back in.
“It has been a really positive day for us and all of our protocols are in place.
“We have socially distanced the machines and benches, upped our cleaning schedules and brought in hand sanitiser stations.
“The opening in March went really well and there was quite a big buzz around the place.
“It is going to be the same for any business at the moment, but we are trying to find our feet and make sure we take precautions to keep everyone safe doing their workouts.”
The past few days have also been busy at Wroxham Barns, which opened a new Junior Farm Fun Park on July 22.
Ben Marshall, general manager, said: “The feedback has been incredible and people have been staying five to eight hours. It’s really nice to see people back. We’re getting over 500 visitors a day and lockdown seems like a distant memory, thank goodness.”