Gearing up for a 'Sweaty Saturday' in Preston
The Lancashire Post talks to gyms and fitness centres across the borough who were given the green light to reopen after months of closure and how they are preparing.
Gym buffs and fitness fanatics now only have to last another day until the long wait for a workout comes to end, as indoor gyms were given the green light to reopen from Saturday July 27.
The Government had confirmed the news when Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the Commons that gyms had ‘engaged very constructively’ with the Government to ‘overcome some of the hurdles’ involved in their reopening.
However, the new gym experience post-lockdown is likely to bring some changes to ensure that customers can workout safely whilst adhering to guidelines regarding social distancing.
Danielle Joyce, owner of Infinity Fitness, Longridge, is gearing up for this opening weekend however plans to continue the majority online classes for the time being.
"We have followed the guidelines in terms of how many people we can have in the facility and have had to dramatically drop our class numbers to a maximum of six, whereas before we could hold 18," she said.
"At the moment, we are actually just starting off with spinning classes so that we can carefully follow the guidelines on social distancing. I said from day one that if we had to wear masks then I wouldn't reopen because it would be too difficult to train and breathe.
Since lockdown was introduced, Danielle has been running online classes for members up to 20 times a week and says she is "amazed" with how successful they have been.
"Going forward we will be staying online for all our classes and will be reopening for spinning on our busiest evenings. We have installed hand sanitisers on the entrance into the studio and have a 15 minute gap between classes to clean the bikes.
"Logistically opening a gym in lockdown is a nightmare because if there is a class using various equipment, it would all need to be cleaned between each exercise. By just starting with one type of class there is no risk of cross contamination. Many of our customers have been living alone for months, so a class for people to meet face to face and socialise is special.:
Unlike shops and restaurants, gym-goers will not be expected to wear masks when exercising, as Oliver Dowden confirmed the news in an announcement he made last week.
He said: "We have not taken a decision to require the wearing of face masks in respect of gyms," yet individual gyms, or gym-chains may have different rules in place.
Last month, the general consensus was that the grand reopening of gyms would be 4 July, alongside hairdressers, bars and restaurants.
Gyms and fitness centres could only reopen if leisure facilities were deemed Covid-19 safe going forward.
The Transform Hub at Fulwood has a maintained their mission of transforming the physical, mental & emotional wellbeing of women throughout Preston in lockdown and have been using social media to count down the days to reopening.
Director James Calderbank said: "We are in a fortunate position as we have always had gaps between each of our classes so that we we don't have loads of people gathering at the front doors. In the gym, we usually have capacity for 45 people on the floor, but are dropping that to 20 so that people can safely social distance.
"We run a box style gym and all the sessions are with personal trainers, which is different to your usual commercial gym. I think the fitness market will benefit from this as every client can get their own cleaning products to clean each station after they have used it.
"We are also providing cleaning stations all around the gym and giving everyone their own personal marked out area to guarantee people are distanced."
In a survey recently taken out by The Transform Hub, they found 90 percent of their regular clients said they would be happy to return to the gym immediately after reopening. James commented: "I think a lot of people have found lockdown has scared them into wanting to transform themselves. It has made some people realise they need to get in shape because they're more at risk of Covid-19 if they aren't."
Ribby Hall's Health Club, on Ribby Road, is among those also reopening their doors this weekend but is operating with limited facilities - including a refurbished adult only swimming pool, a separate pool for families, a gym with socially distanced equipment and indoor and outdoor fitness training areas.
Charlotte Gili‑Ross, Brand & Communications Manager at the health centre, at Wrea Green, said: "To comply with Government guidance, all class sizes have been reduced. We shall however keep this under constant review and, if required, additional classes of the same will be added to the timetable.
"All equipment remains and has been spaced out to comply with Government guidance. To maintain socially distance guidelines, we have also created two additional workout areas for people to train in.
"Capacity within the swimming pool has currently been reduced to 16 swimmers at a time. To aid lane swimmers, we have also added an additional swim lane. Each lane will be designated to either Slow, Intermediate or Fast Swimmers. There is hand sanitiser available throughout the Health Club and we encourage members to wash their hands frequently, as well as enhanced cleaning regimes especially in areas with higher footfalls and touch points."
Similar experiences can be found at Fulwood Leisure centre, which are implementing a range of "covid-secure" measures across the centre including fewer equipment and enhanced cleaning regimes.
Derek Jones, partnership manager for Better leisure centres said: “We’ll be implementing a range of measures across the leisure facilities we operate to ensure they are Covid-Secure. Firstly, we’re asking customers to pre-book online or via our Better app, to help us control the flow of people into and out of the buildings.
"We’ll be introducing 2 metre social distancing throughout, which will mean that the amount of equipment in the gym areas will be reduced. Where we can we’ll move equipment into sports halls and even schedule activities outdoors, weather permitting.
"Our staff will be implementing enhanced cleaning regimes, but we’re also asking customers to do their bit and wipe down equipment before and after use with the cleaning materials provided.
“After nearly four months of lockdown, we’re delighted to finally be able to re-open, albeit at reduced capacity initially. Our key priorities are to ensure customer and staff safety and build customer confidence".