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Fitness Australia’s Barrie Elvish maintains calls for gyms to open in regional Victoria

Fitness Australia’s Barrie Elvish maintains calls for gyms to open in regional Victoria
October 16, 2020

Maintaining Fitness Australia’s calls for the Victorian Government to allow gyms to reopen, Chief Executive Barrie Elvish has emphasised that fitness facilities in regional Victoria should be included in easing measures.

Elvish today called for a change in the state’s game plan, writing “as the numbers in Victoria are stubbornly plateauing maybe it is indeed time to change the strategy, especially in regional Victoria. Regional Victoria is currently in Third Step Restrictions, which prohibits indoor gyms and fitness facilities from opening but allows cafes, restaurants, beauty and personal care businesses to open. This is despite there been no cases of community transmission for many weeks, even months in most areas and no hard evidence to show that gyms are a high-risk environment. Currently across all regional Victoria there is only two local government councils with any active COVID cases over the past 14-day period - Mitchelton and Greater Shepparton. In fact, more than 20 councils have not reported more than five cases since the pandemic began. This puts the rolling average for region Victoria at a low 0.6 will no unknown cases.”

Elvish goes on to explain that, over recent months, Fitness Australia has worked with authorities in every other Australian state and territory to implement robust COVIDSafe protocols and frameworks to ensure fitness facilities can reopen as a safe environment and give people the confidence and peace of mind to resume their regular exercise routine.

He notes “let’s not forget that, unlike any other sector, fitness facilities have the ability in the unlikely event of a member attending gym with COVID, to advise relevant health authorities within an hour of the names and contact details of every other person in the facility at the time and following the visitation period.”

Emphasising that “it is not just this unique contact tracing capabilities that justify why regional gyms should be open”, Elvish referred to recent research commissioned by Fitness Australia that demonstrates:

• 62% of Victorians rated going to the gym or their local fitness studio as their top three most missed activity 
• One in three have experienced a decreased sense of connection as a direct result of gym closures while 20% experienced feelings of depression 
• A number of negative impacts on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing including: muscle loss (51%), physical weight gain (50%), a decreased overall sense of wellbeing (47%), increased stress/anxiety levels (42%) and stamina loss (37%) 
• 54% have experienced a decrease in the motivation to exercise during lockdown 
• An impacted feeling of safety when exercising outdoors, particularly among shift workers 
    o 20% of the sample were shift workers who said the gym offered a safe and secure environment gyms compared to training outdoors.
• A significant decrease in the frequency of exercise versus before the COVID lockdown period

With the research also showing that prior to the lockdown period 89% of members exercised at least three times a week and that during lockdown this fell to 70%, Elvish added “although (this) data clearly demonstrates the need for gyms to reopen for the community’s physical and mental wellbeing, there are also other compelling reasons that are and will continue to impact the Victorian economy and livelihoods of thousands of business owners, their staff and their families.

“There are over 1,500 fitness facilities in Victoria - ranging in program scope from small yoga, dance or Pilates studios to large council-run leisure centres (and) these facilities are primarily small businesses and represent a life’s work and investment for their owners.

“Through the supply chain these small businesses employ almost 40,000 Victorians and provide essential services for more than 900,000 community members.

“To date there has been no justifiable explanation as to why regional fitness facilities cannot open now (so isn’t) it time to change the game plan?”

Related Articles

13th October 2020 - Vic Active continues to call for reopening of indoor fitness centres

12th October 2020 - Fitness Australia provides update on meeting with Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer

8th October 2020 - Fitness Australia releases research showing impact of lockdown gym closures

7th October 2020 - Fitness Australia Chief Executive slams ‘potentially damaging’ FITREC claims

6th October 2020 - FITREC expresses concern about Fitness Australia’s ‘Service Excellence Program’

3rd October 2020 - Fitness Australia launches transferable membership and AusREP Relief package

2nd October 2020 - Fitness Australia calls for COVID Marshal overhaul in NSW

28th September 2020 - No change to fitness centre restrictions as Victorian Government eases lockdown measures

25th September 2020 - Fitness Australia asserts there is no clear evidence gyms spread COVID-19

24th September 2020 - Aquatic, fitness and sport facilities headed for membership crisis

24th September 2020 - City of Greater Bendigo encourages gyms and fitness group operators to book outdoor spaces

23rd September 2020 - Pilates, strength training and yoga the most popular classes as Australians return to fitness facilities

21st September 2020 - Fitness Australia’s Barrie Elvish to meet with Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer to urge gym reopening

18th September 2020 - Operator questions Fitness Australia’s 26th October reopening claim for Victorian gyms

15th September 2020 - Fitness industry disappointed gyms in regional Victoria cannot reopen under this week’s Coronavirus easing

14th September 2020 - Fitness Australia calls for one-on-one training to be allowed under Victoria’s new outdoor exercise restrictions

10th September 2020 - Fitness Australia confirms Melbourne gyms to reopen from 26th October

8th September 2020 - New body to advocate for the reopening of fitness centres in Victoria

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

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

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

7th September 2020 - Victorian Chief Health Officer’s comments ‘devastating’ to gym owners

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

15th June 2020 - Fitness Australia calls for national consistency in state government gym reopenings

4th May 2020 - Australians’ physical activity declines during Coronavirus lockdown


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