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Saturday, May 15, 2021

ACT gyms reopening suits some better than others

While a lot of fitness enthusiasts would have been excited by the announcement that ACT gyms will be reopening from Saturday 30 May, the restrictions in place won’t be practical for some local operators.

The ACT Government announced yesterday that gyms and other fitness facilities will be able to conduct group supervised sessions of up to 20 people from 30 May.

Unsupervised free weight training or use of other gym equipment remains off the cards until 19 June when the ACT moves into Step 2.2 of their COVID-19 easing of restrictions roadmap.

Director of Fitness Grand gym at Manuka, Ben Mayes told Canberra Weekly he’s yet to determine whether he will reopen his gym on Saturday once the ACT moves into Step 2.1, or if he’ll wait until 19 June.

“The announcement, as much as it’s clear on what we can do, it’s not a very practical allowance for us because once we go in and start trading in the gym, we go back to full costing,” Mr Mayes said.

Since closing, Fitness Grand have stripped their operations back to “skeletal costs”, with just some personal training and outdoor group training.

“We’ve had a reasonable deal so far with our landlord and that’s helped us to this point.

“Electricity went from $1,200 a month to $4 a month … I’ve never had a bill that low from ACTEW,” he smiled.

Reopening the gym would require Mr Mayes to cover far more in rent, staffing, insurance and other operating costs while only taking in approximately 20% of their normal earnings.

“It’s a tricky situation, being allowed to open at a limited capacity, asking a business to operate, but go in at a loss.

“We’re requesting some sort of staggered rental increase for our situation and I’m sure most other facilities would be doing the same,” he said.

Mr Mayes said Fitness Grand will be far better placed to operate comfortably once they’re able to reopen to their membership, given that’s where they generate the majority of their income.

“With the staggered approach the government is giving us, they [memberships] wouldn’t come in until Stage 2.2,” he said.

Mr Mayes said gyms that operate with a business model built around group classes rather than memberships, like F45 or Club Lime’s hiit republic, will be able to trade more normally under the ACT’s restrictions.

“But then they have the issue of shared equipment. It’s really difficult.”

Mr Mayes said he would support the introduction of flexible restrictions for gyms based on floor space.

“There is an allowance of just 20 within one room, which obviously doesn’t make a lot of sense if you have 1,000sqm and one room … If you have an open plan scenario it is a little limiting,” he said.

“We’re a standalone club, probably around nearly 400sqm … we’ve got that ability to social distance and for people to clean between usage.

“The only sticking point for us would be, before membership comes back, potentially repositioning some equipment, or you have every second machine in use just to allow that safe distancing,” he said.

A spokesperson for Club Lime told Canberra Weekly that all their ACT gyms will be reopening for trade under the restrictions with a variation on opening and staffed hours.

“All will open, with a variation on opening and staffed hours … We may be staggering which clubs open when, however within the ACT, Club Lime and hiit republic will be open early next week.”

They are working through a booking system to allow members to book within peak times.

“Outside of these peak times, members can access without booking, pending we are not over the 20-person capacity.

“Our clubs can be accessed during staffed times only, as we need to ensure all members are supervised, however we will have extended hours across many clubs to ensure no one misses out.”

Club Lime’s bookings will be for 55 minutes per session to allow for cleaning of equipment and the space.

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