AS PART of the circuit breaker lockdown measures that begin across this evening, gyms and leisure facilities will have to close once again.

However, concerns have been raised by gym owners and members of the public that closing gyms during the circuit breaker lockdown will have an adverse effect on people’s physical and mental health.

The health and fitness industry was one of the last industries to re-open from the initial lockdown, only opening again on Monday, August 10, and a petition to keep gyms open during national lockdowns in Wales, set up on October 13, has gathered more than 16,000 signatures.


Alex Bodin, co-owner of One Gym in Newport, said he has been left frustrated with the blanket lockdown.

“It’s frustrating, mainly with the lack of clarity and communication,” he said. “To be closed down without being contacted or visited, it just seems unfair and unjust.

“We invested around £60,000 to bring the facility up to scratch. It’s paramount for us to ensure people are kept safe. We’ve tried to go above and beyond with this.

"We have thermal body scanners to read members’ body temperatures on the entrance, sanitiser stations around the gym, and a stringent cleaning regime.

South Wales Argus:

Temperature readers at One Gym in Newport. Picture: One Gym.

"The facility is 30,000sq ft, and our wireless booking system means we average about 30 members in the gym at maximum at any time - so each member has the equivalent of 1,000sq ft to work out in.

“The feedback from them is they feel safer here than they do anywhere else.

“We seem to have been brought into the same conversation as pubs, cinemas, restaurants and casinos, but ultimately our model is health and fitness, not entertainment.

“We have had members saying that it’s really damaging for their mental health being locked at home for two weeks. The gym is their escape.”

Claire Pennington, owner of The Hub in Chepstow, said she had been "genuinely shocked" by the blanket closure for the lockdown period.

"It's a blanket response that is not backed up by any scientific evidence," she said.

South Wales Argus:

Socially distanced equipment at The Hub, Chepstow. Picture: Claire Pennington

"We've done exactly what we have been asked and complied with everything. We haven't had any cases so it doesn't make any sense that we have to close.

"We are following a very regimented regime keeping the facility clean, and everyone had been following these strict guidelines as they want to keep the gym open.

"We have a track and trace system in place so anyone who enters the gym has to report to reception, we have hand sanitiser stations and strict social distancing.

"You have to sanitise and clean every single piece of equipment you use, and we now have a limited number of people in classes.

"We feel very strongly we should be able to help [people's physical and mental health] rather than being forced to close."

Over the border in England, Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram told BBC Radio Merseyside that gyms in the area would be allowed to reopen under Tier 3 restrictions, after they had previously been ordered to close.

A spokeswoman for Nuffield Health, which operates in a gym in Cwmbran, said they were "disappointed" with the Welsh Government’s decision to close gyms, and hoped it would reconsider its position.

"Across the sector, there have been more than 22 million visits since reopening, with just 78 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among customers," said a spokeswoman - referencing research from ukactive.

“We know that lockdown significantly impacted the nation’s physical and mental health and as we enter the winter months, gyms and leisure centres have an increasingly important role to play in maintaining the health of the nation.

"This will not only help protect against Covid-19 and other diseases but will also ease the pressure on the NHS.

“We urge the government to reconsider its position and to recognise that the gym and leisure sector provide essential health and wellbeing services that will be critical during the winter months.”

However, when asked about the matter in Wednesday's Welsh Government press conference, health minister Vaughan Gething said: "I'm not going to discuss a hypothetical future.

"We have made a clear choice based on advice set out."