Gyms' toughest workout yet - lifting the misery of lockdown
Gym owner Tommy Snape was looking for a lift from Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Instead he could be struggling under the weight of debt when reopening finally comes.
Tommy runs SAS Gym on Leyland’s Moss Side Industrial Estate and admits he is finding it a real battle to survive until mid-April when fitness venues can once again throw open their doors.
“I can’t pay my bills and I’ve told everyone they are going to have to let me get into debt, it’s that desperate,” he said.
“It’s going to be a real struggle and I reckon it is going to affect us for the next two years trying to get back to where we were before.”
Indoor gyms have been told they must remain shut until April 12 at the earliest as England comes out of its third - and hopefully last - Covid lockdown.
Tommy thinks the restriction on gyms is harsh considering the work that has gone on since last March to make them Covid secure.
“To be honest leaving us shut until April is a joke when you consider all the measures we have in place for social distancing and sanitising. Yet you can go into a supermarket to do your shopping where restrictions aren’t as tight. It doesn’t make sense.
“Each time we have gone into a lockdown I have seriously considered closing my business altogether.
“I’ve been here for nine years and I have put everything into this place. I am trying my best as a small business, but I’m on the verge of closing and I’m not the only one.
“I’ve known three people who have taken their own lives during lockdown. They were all in the fitness business and couldn’t take it.
“People just want to train. Not only for their physical health, but also their mental health. It just doesn’t make any sense to keep us closed.”
Penwortham personal trainer Lee Hayward only set up in business weeks before the third lockdown and is now kicking his heels at home waiting for the green light to resume.
Unlike gyms, where multiple people workout at the same time, Lee only trains clients in isolated one-to-one sessions. He wears a face covering and sanitises all equipment before and after each client.
“It couldn’t be any safer,” said Lee who spent more than 20 years working for national gym chains Virgin and Nuffield Health before starting out on his own.
“It’s certainly more Covid secure than going to the supermarket. Yet Boris’s roadmap has gyms reopening at the same time as pubs.
“Because of lockdown I haven’t been able to fully launch my own brand yet and it’s tough. My wife is on the NHS frontline and she is having to work extra shifts so we can survive until I can start working.
“I think the fitness industry should have been more of a priority because of the effect lockdown is having on people’s physical and mental health.”