'Devastated' gym industry hangs on Friday announcement
Australia's fitness industry is waiting on Friday's announcement from prime minister Scott Morrison with baited breath, as new research has revealed how the coronavirus ripped the sector apart.
Australia's fitness industry is waiting on Friday's announcement from the prime minister with baited breath, as new research reveals how the coronavirus ripped the sector apart.
Scott Morrison may announce gyms can reopen with tight restrictions on social distancing and other health measures, Fitness Australia chief executive Barrie Elvish told .
"Nobody wants to put their name to that, but that's what I'm hearing," Mr Elvish said.
If this prediction proves correct, it will bring some relief to many of Australia's 35,000 fitness professionals and 4 million people who have gym memberships across the country.
Mr Elvish said discussions indicated gyms could open with a maximum of 10 people per room, with similar restrictions in outdoor classes.
"We could reopen in the same way we were eventually shut down," he said.
He was guardedly "optimistic" Mr Morrison would lay out these plans on Friday, when the prime minster is expected to declare further easing of social restrictions in the country.
a Fitness Australia report found a massive 81 per cent of exercise professionals lost their job or main source of income when gyms were closed on March 23.
The bleak report stated 90 per cent of gym owners were continuing to pay up to $5000 a month in costs despite not operating.
Some gyms had managed to move a sprinkling of classes online, while one-on-one personal training is allowed outdoors.
The report says revenue was down 100 per cent for half of all owners.
Fewer than three in 10 fitness professionals had worked with a single client in six weeks since closing.
"The report reinforced our underlying fear and feeling that many, many businesses have been devastated," Mr Elvish said.
Baby steps to open up the industry would be "a huge boost" but many challenges for the mothballed sector lie ahead, he cautioned.
"It's frustrating for gyms to be heaped alongside gyms, cafes, bars and cinemas," Mr Elvish said.
"Of all businesses, because of digital membership cards, nobody is better placed than gyms to track when someone enters and exits and how long they have spent inside."
If gyms were given the green light, Mr Elvish said it was vital all owners enforce restrictions on capacity and cleaning guidelines to the absolute letter.
"The last thing the industry would want is a Ruby Princess situation in a gym," he said, referencing the riddled cruise ship responsible for Australia's worst cluster outbreak.
"Like any sector, there are good operators and not so good operators. Everyone has to do their bit."
Mr Elvish said early data from international markets where gyms had already reopened showed that gym memberships had not suffered significant cancellations.
But older members, who face graver coronavirus risks, had chosen to stay away for now.
"I think we'll see the same in Australia. The younger more gung-ho demographic will rush back, while the older membership will be more cautious to begin with," he said.
Mr Elvish also expected some bigger gyms to remain temporarily closed, even if Mr Morrison gives the go-ahead for opening.
If a 10 person maximum rule is operational, it may not be "financially viable" for large gyms to open for business.
Fitness Australia says around 6500 businesses in the gym sector contribute $3 billion annually to the national economy.
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