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Fitness industry on verge of collapse as gyms remain shut under lockdown
The fitness industry is on the verge of collapse as gyms across the country continue to remain shut under lockdown.

It has suffered enormously since the national lockdown was implemented on March 26, with several gyms forced to shut their doors permanently.

With no clear indication as to when gyms will reopen, the industry fears a total collapse.

It’s expected that around 80% of gyms are likely to shut down permanently, with massive job losses, should gyms continue to remain closed.

Leading gyms like Planet Fitness have been forced to consider retrenchments due to the devastating impact the extended lockdown has had on the sector. Its chief executive, Manny Rivera, said gyms across the country were in desperate need of government’s help to avoid a complete collapse of the industry.

“If we don’t open up soon, without the UIF the smaller independents will not be able to survive and major job losses will happen. Gyms are an essential service due to the health benefits of exercise. Gym helps to increase immunity. There has been significant research done on the topic across the world.”

While there have been no job losses as yet at Planet Fitness, Rivera said this was likely if the ban continues.

“The independents will not have that type of muscle and we believe that 80% of the industry would have to close down. The Ters (Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme) UIF ended in June and there is therefore no support for the industry.

“The company has taken a view to retain all of its staff as people are core to our business, but we've had to make use of UIF funding for staff who we had to ask to take some pay cuts. But the business has been funding the UIF to employees in advance to ensure they have an income while we wait for the UIF to arrive. It's been slow to arrive and unreliable.”
Planet Fitness has also had to spend a significant sum during lockdown.

“We have not been billing any of our members during lockdown, which accounts for an enormous amount of revenue.

"Because we have an A grade reputation with banks and landlords, we've received a lot of support from landlords and banks and this has been able to put us in a liquid position to see us through and we remain bullish.”

Planet Fitness has been forced to close its Craighall Club. “We are in a very fortunate position that we have several other clubs close-by which will result in a minimised impact to our members.”

Rivera doesn’t see a reason why gyms need to remain closed, particularly after the government gave the green light for various other industries to reopen, such as places of worship, restaurants, salons and casinos.

“We believe that our environment is one of the safest and have gone far and beyond the world’s benchmark best practices in getting our clubs ready to reopen,” said Rivera.
“It's the public’s constitutional right to make their own decisions. Our statistics show that across the world, people are flocking back to gyms because of the benefits to the immune system. Without a vaccine, the only way to fight the virus is through your own immune system and exercise contributes to boosting your immune system.”

Virgin Active says the financial impact has been extensive.

“But we remain confident that our discussions and collaboration with government, speaking on behalf of the broader fitness industry and establishing protocols on which the industry can expect to open, will bear success,” said a spokesperson.

“The re-opening of our clubs in international territories, such as Italy, the UK and Asia, allows us to benchmark international best practice and apply protocols locally. We engaged early on and are certain we can comply with the occupational hygiene standards that will be required.”

Source: IOL
<t>To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.</t>

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