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

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

Fitness Australia’s ongoing advocacy for gyms to be considered essential services due to the important role regular and consistent exercise in physical and mental health has been backed by Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events David Hodgett.

With Victoria in a strict Coronavirus lockdown regime, Fitness Australia has been advocating the vital role gyms, health and fitness centres and personal training have in the physical and mental health of the community as well as the push to have the health and fitness industry classified as an essential service.

Backing this stance, Hodgett, the State Member for Croydon, has this week backed the peak body in what Fitness Australia Chief Executive, Barrie Elvish says is an “important letter of support” that is “a significant step forward for the industry”.

The Shadow Minister’s letter states “the mental health and well-being of people during the (Victorian) Government’s lockdown restrictions is a major concern as people are forced to deal with the loss of freedom, the challenges of isolation, fear for loved ones, and concerns about income and employment - all which can take a significant mental health toll.

“Whilst I am not privy to the data and information the Victorian Government relies on to make decisions in relation to the classification of essential industries, the Andrews Government could reclassify the health and fitness industry in Victoria to an essential service and allow gyms and fitness centres to operate if social distancing, good hygiene practices, no shared equipment and so on are strictly adhered to.

“It’s astounding that you are not allowed to drive within 5kms of your house to exercise, yet you can drive your pet dog to a local dog park for them exercise.  Two people are allowed to walk or run together, but an individual is not permitted to be trained one-on-one by a personal trainer.

“The current restrictions are not at all supportive of the health and wellbeing of Victorians.

“I fully support the reclassification of the health and fitness industry in Victoria and again I note and acknowledge the role gyms and health and fitness centres play in the physical and mental health and well-being of people.”

Fitness Australia has also calling for the Victorian Government to apply what it says would be a “common sense” move “to allow Melbourne personal trainers access to their place of work to safely film digital content to ensure people have access to a variety of safe exercise options while in lockdown”.

Elvish said during national gym closures thousands of Australians turned to online personal training, live streaming of classes and fitness videos to ensure they could keep active in isolation. He said it was time for the Victorian Government to allow this to happen during the current Stage 4 Lockdown.

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