If Pubs Can Reopen, Why Can’t Gyms? This PT Explains Why

Richard Tidmarsh
Photo credit: Hinterhaus Productions

From Men's Health

So, the UK economy Independence Day announcement has come and gone. KFC is open. Burger King is open. Pubs are open. But gyms, the places that can start to bulletproof the UK's population against diseases like Covid-19, remain closed. Don't worry though, you can go a get a haircut instead.

As a gym owner, of course, I am pretty angry. But not for the reasons you would expect. Unlocking the economy needed to be done in a logical and rational way, and now with pretty much every type of business allowed to open (as of July 4th), the debacle continues.

The bottom line is this: business owners in all sectors, should have been given the responsibility to keep its individual customers safe. But many business owners have different ways of measuring safety.

During lockdown, I have been into some supermarkets that have paid no attention to being "COVID-secure". Yes, there is a queue outside but once you are in, it's a complete free for all of passing the virus. Meanwhile in shops like Whole Foods, it feels like you are entering a nuclear testing plant, with masks provided and detailed one way systems. Will I go back to Whole Foods? Yes. Will I go back to my local M&S? No.

All Businesses should now be open and customers able to vote with their feet. The fact that now, all of the nation’s favourite places to damage their health and immune system are back open while gyms are to remain closed proves that the Government has lost its way.

I understand that not all gyms are the same. And yes, large gym chains like Virgin Active and Fitness First will face challenges to keep their members safe. But with their large budgets, I believe, these challenges can be met.

The majority of smaller gyms, independently owned, operate on a business model that is perfect to create a secure environment. At Reach Fitness gym, we operate what is, in effect, a private members club for fitness.


Like many other gyms, we can cater for smaller groups and personal training, control capacity and design the space to ensure social distancing is adhered to. We can even operate a track and trace system if there was a confirmed case from one of our members. We are also able to close communal areas, operate a no kit sharing policy, clean equipment after each use and space the timetable to provide windows of time to keep people safe in small groups.

Our staff and members can wear PPE. Remember, the gym is an environment where everyone actually cares about each other.

Does this sound safer than battling to get your eggs and milk down the local Sainsbury’s Express? Does this sound safer than wrestling to get into Nike Town to grab a bargain? Does this sound safer than a pint surrounded by others who no doubt will forget about social distancing once the booze starts to kick in?

Yes, it does.

It's time for the UK's population to get behind this message & get all local businesses open in your communities.

Rich Tidmarsh, owner and lead trainer at Reach Fitness London.

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