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Gym owners ‘weight’ for clarity on reopening

WHILE the latest guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive says sport can resume on an outdoor basis in groups of up to 15 from this Monday, gym owners have been left in the lurch when it comes to their reopening.

With the British Government announcing gyms can open for individual training alongside hairdressers, retail and beer gardens in England from this  Monday, RAW Performance owners Johnny McKeown and Louise Moynagh say the lack of clarity on gyms here has been disappointing.

“It’s a wee bit strange to see England opening up whenever we can’t. I do appreciate that we are on two different islands, but I do wonder why we have ventured so far from them,” Johnny said.

“In our heads we feel we have done as much as we possibly could, especially considering the guidance that has been given. There hasn’t really been anything laid out for us next week.

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“They have said about outdoor activity, but that hasn’t mentioned gyms which is a bit strange. Hopefully they will mention something before next week.”

“The guidance we have been given is minimal to none.”

Louise added that there has been confusion about whether gyms can do outdoor classes in line with sports teams being allowed to resume training from Monday.

“Every time new rules come in we are kind of confused,” Louise said. “On April 12, there might be outdoor stuff again, but there hasn’t really been any specific guidelines around whether gyms can do outdoor classes.

“It’s very confusing, as we see England are obviously opening up their gyms and we aren’t able to open up ours even at a smaller capacity. There’s no word yet of anything.”

Johnny and Louise took over RAW at Omagh’s Gortrush Industrial Estate in June 2020, and have been faced with staggered opening and tight restrictions since then.

“It’s been strange for everyone. We are in a circumstance which we never really thought could happen but whenever we have been able to open up we have been able to have good members that keep supporting us,” Johnny added.

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“Business-wise it could be better but we could be a lot worse off, and it would definitely be fun to get back open up again. When that will be, who knows.”

The mental health benefits of exercise outweigh the current risk of Covid infection when the correct safety measures are applied, according to Louise.

“It’s been said from day one that gyms have had little to no transmission.

“It makes no sense and with the way pandemic leaves people’s mental health we believe that we should be open.

“Clients are mad to get back, they’re ready to get back and have been ready for over a month now.

“We have been talking to them and their mental health is suffering.

“It’s a good community in this gym, and it’s not just about getting fit and getting healthy, it’s about socialising and that’s all been taken away from them.”

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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