'People are raring to go' - Gym boss ecstatic about April 12 reopening

Mark Bone owner of Phoenix Gym in Norwich
prepares to re-open on April 12th 2021 after a Covid lockd

Mark Bone owner of Phoenix Gym in Norwich prepares to re-open on April 12th 2021 after a Covid lockdown. - Credit: stillfocusedmedia/Jerry Daws

Fitness fans are raring to get back to gyms on April 12 according to an ecstatic business owner.

Gyms and fitness centres can once again reopen their doors, along with non-essential shops and pub gardens, as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

On the eve of reopening, Mark Bone, managing director of Phoenix Gym Norwich on St Marys Works, said: "Everyone seems super excited. I have never been so excited about opening the gym before. We have been inundated with so many positive messages. Everyone is raring to come back. I cannot wait to get started."

Mark Bone owner of Phoenix Gym in Norwich
prepares to re-open on April 12th 2021 after a Covid lockd

Mark Bone owner of Phoenix Gym in Norwich prepares to re-open on April 12th 2021 after a Covid lockdown. - Credit: stillfocusedmedia/Jerry Daws

He said the closure of gyms had created major mental and physical health problems for many people.

"Our bodies are designed to move", said Mr Bone.

"It is alright for Boris to say go for a run or bike ride but we have had messages from a lot of women who don't feel safe going for a run outside. The weather has been dismal recently meaning you cannot really go out on your bike. A lot of people cannot run due to injuries or mobility problems. They need machines," he added.

The 42-yearold former personal trainer from Sprowston said that hundreds of smaller gyms and health centres across the country have been forced to close due to financial pressures from the lockdown meaning people would have less choice in where they exercise.

Mark Bone owner of Phoenix Gym in Norwichprepares to re-open on April 12th 2021 after a Covid lockd

Mark Bone owner of Phoenix Gym in Norwich prepares to reopen on April 12, 2021, after a Covid lockdown. - Credit: stillfocusedmedia/Jerry Daws

But despite losing out on income and having to invest tens of thousands of pounds in making the gym Covid-secure over the past year, Mr Bone added: "We made lemonade out of lemons."

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Changes include turning the studios, previously used for classes, into a boxing area, knocking down walls to make more space, reconfiguring the changing rooms, installing new entrance and exit gates for track and trace purposes and spending a "small fortune" on a new air flow system.

All equipment is two metres apart, there are 14 sanitising stations meaning gym-goers are no more than three metres away from cleaning equipment at any one time and no more than 80 people can be in the centre at once.

Phoenix Gym is also providing a bottle of sanitising spray and washable cloth to each member for free at each visit so they can carry it around with them and not have to share it.

Mr Bone said: "Everything is safe."

He encouraged gym-goers not to bring their own towels, change at home if they can and not come if they have symptoms or coronavirus.

The managing director added: "The risk of catching coronavirus at gyms is minimal but people who are healthy are more likely to follow rules. Data and common sense shows gyms are safe, especially if people are vaccinated."

Phoenix Gym, which opened nearly eight years ago, had 968 members before March last year and despite losing between 200 and 300 members during the first lockdown, numbers have recovered and it currently has 868.

It has also managed to keep the majority of its 20 staff, which includes freelance personal trainers.


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