Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Fitness Australia challenges Victorian Chief Health Officer’s assertion that gyms ‘cause outbreaks’

Fitness Australia challenges Victorian Chief Health Officer’s assertion that gyms ‘cause outbreaks’
September 6, 2020

Fitness Australia has disputed a statement made by Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor, Brett Sutton today that gyms cause outbreaks of COVID-19.

Speaking today on the Victorian Government’s plans for easing Coronavirus lockdown measures, Professor Sutton stated that gyms are a “known high risk setting” and “cause outbreaks”.

In response, Fitness Australia, which has been behind recent lobbying for gyms to be included in initial lockdown easing, rapidly released a statement advising calling Professor Sutton’s comments as being “misinformation” adding that this “negative, unproven commentary is damaging to the industry and the health and wellbeing of all Victorians”.

Advising that Professor Sutton’s comments are not supported by any evidence, research or actual data and that the peak body has gathered data from a random sample of NSW operators to prove gyms are safe, Fitness Australia Chief Executive, Barrie Elvish explained “today’s comments are extremely disappointing. We are urging Professor Sutton to qualify his comments that gyms are a ‘known high risk setting’ and ‘cause outbreaks’.

“These are not based on, or supported by, any data and we are calling for the Victorian Government to engage with the industry and make decisions and comments that are based on real data, not personal views.

“If Professor Sutton does have evidence to the contrary, we urge him and the Victorian Government to share it with Fitness Australia so we can make our existing and successful COVIDSafe plans for the industry even better.

“To refute this type of misinformation, last month Fitness Australia gathered our own data to prove gyms are a COVIDSafe environment when strict hygiene and social distancing measured are enforced.

“The data from across NSW showed that during an eight-week period after gyms reopened there were more than 7.31 million check-ins across 546 gyms and during that same period there were zero cases of reported community transmission in a gym. We are not aware of any cases on transmission in a gym anywhere in Australia.

“The same could not be said for restaurants or bars where cluster cases have started and spread. However, gyms are still being categorised with these and other entertainment venues and cast in a negative light.”

The Fitness Australia data was validated by electronic swipes, used by all members for access, which also provides for sophisticated contact tracing should it be required.

Fitness Australia has been strongly advocating for the safe reopening of gyms in Victoria to help people maintain and manage their mental health and ensure the livelihoods of those who work in the industry to provide this vital service to the community.

Explaining these moves, Elvish noted “we firmly believe gyms can reopen safely sooner rather than later, simple as that. We know it won’t be business as usual but we have a committed industry who is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the health and safety of members and staff so they can reopen and restart their businesses.

“Fitness Australia has worked hard to develop robust reopening guidelines, including a COVIDSafe Plan. However, the Victorian Government has not engaged with the industry or taken the time to consider how vital it is for the community to be able to access a variety of exercise and training options to help maintain mental and physical health.”

Advising that the Victorian Government would be left with a costly, long-term impact as the mental and physical health of more citizens continues to increase, Elvish concluded “exercising, maintaining a regular fitness regime, doing yoga or even building strength with weights are all positive preventative activities Australians do to maintain their overall health. The cost and long-term impact an extended absence of these will have on our economy will be significant.

“Today’s comments must be reconsidered immediately before more people suffer.”

Lower image: Fitness Australia Chief Executive Barrie Elvish.

Related Articles

6th September 2020 - Melbourne’s Stage 4 Coronavirus restrictions extended for two weeks as Chief Health Officer says ‘gyms are a high-risk setting’

3rd September 2020 - Victorian gym owners plan legal ‘class action’ to reopen gyms

1st September 2020 - Independent gym owners urge Victorian Government to allow gyms to re-open when Stage 4 restrictions conclude

31st August 2020 - Fitness and Lifestyle Group advises of redundancies amid restructure

30th August 2020 - Fitness Australia calls for Victorian Government to reclassify health and fitness facilities as an ‘essential service’ 

28th August 2020 - Sydney CBD fitness club linked to new Coronavirus infections in NSW

24th August 2020 - Survey shows Australia gyms outperforming international counterparts

21st August 2020 - Fitness Australia secures support for exercise to be classed as an ‘essential service’ from Victorian shadow sport minister

19th August 2020 - FITREC highlights ‘heartbreaking’ impact of Victoria’s Coronavirus lockdown

14th August 2020 - ISPO identifies health orientation as key fitness trend in post Coronavirus-world

13th August 2020 - Les Mills plans to activate fitness industry’s COVID-19 recovery with global campaign

9th August 2020 - Gym owner calls for online protest over new NSW fitness club regulations

13th August 2020 - Fitness Australia counters ‘misinformation’ that suggests gyms are a hotspot for COVID-19

12th August 2020 - Snap Fitness reports rise in club memberships following COVID lockdown

8th August 2020 - Les Mills Asia Pacific invites Victorian instructors and fitness enthusiasts to invest in themselves

7th August 2020 - Fitness First introduces attendee temperature checks at NSW clubs

5th August 2020 - NSW gyms introduce temperature testing and COVID marshals to reduce member Coronavirus risks

31st July 2020 - Melbourne gym hosts anti-mask conspiracy theorists meeting

29th July 2020 - OneMusic introduces fee relief for customers in the fitness and wellbeing sector

19th July 2020 - Without JobKeeper 60% of Australian fitness businesses will close in less than a month

17th July 2020 - Reopening approved for Plus Fitness Campbelltown following temporary COVID-19 closure

16th July 2020 - Planet Fitness takes ‘vigorous steps’ to limit community transmission of Coronavirus

15th July 2020 - Campbelltown Aquafit assures members with recognition of its ‘Gold Standard’ COVID-19 compliance

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues


BioLab Australia Pty Ltd

BioGuard is Australia and New Zealand’s most trusted supplier of premium, innovative and affordable commercial water treatment systems and chemicals. BioGuard offers a comprehensive range of…

read more

Aquatics / Technology / Waterparks


Aussie Strength

We are Aussie Strength. The ultimate supplier for Commercial Gym Equipment that's built to deliver in the toughest environments. From USA-Built hardcore weight training equipment from Arsenal…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



A leading designer and manufacturer of innovative waterslides and attractions, Australian Waterslides and Leisure (AWL) is also able to advise clients in the areas of concept and design, feasibility…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Waterparks


Goplay Commercial Playground Equipment

Goplay designs and manufactures specialised playground equipment for indoor play centres, hotels, food chains, clubs and resorts. If our years of experience and dedication have taught us one thing,…

read more




iEDM integrate Design, Engineering and Delivery Management services to convert existing spaces into exciting new entertainment venues. Our team consists of highly qualified professionals with diverse…

read more

Consultants / Design


Otium Planning Group

Otium Planning Group is a contemporary sport and leisure consultancy providing services in planning, facility development, management and funding for the sport, recreation and leisure industries…

read more

Aquatics / Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Venues


State Wide Pool Services

Known as Hydrilla since September 2020 - see

read more



get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business