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New body to advocate for the reopening of fitness centres in Victoria

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

A new advocacy body for the Victorian fitness industry has been formed to highlight that fitness centres are COVIDSafe and must re-open if Victoria is to avoid a physical and mental health catastrophe.

Created by independent fitness centre owners state-wide, the newly created VIC Active will lobby the Victorian Government to allow their facilities to re-open before the mooted Level 3 late October Coronavirus lockdown easing unveiled on Sunday.

So far, more than 100 owners, comprising 400 sites and representing over 4,000 staff and 300,000 members have joined VIC Active, with all operators, suppliers and industry groups urged to join.

High profile members include the Victorian operators of major fitness networks including F45 and Body Fit Training.

Explaining that fitness centres have been proven to be some of the safest public environments and that the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Victorians revolved around access to professional fitness services, VIC Active spokesperson Tim Schleiger (pictured below) today stated “the mental health of Victorians has taken a massive hit - the freedom to exercise in a supervised environment with professional management is vital.

“The (Victorian) Premier tells us he is listening to industry concerns but he is taking advice from his health officials and not properly consulting the health and fitness industry. Victoria has endured the longest and toughest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world and the mental and physical toll is at crisis levels.

“Another seven weeks is simply too long to wait and the risk to overall wellbeing, and both physical and mental health is severe. There needs to be a balance and VIC Active will detail to the Government how we can manage health and safety requirements with the urgent need to re-open fitness centres.

“All our members have worked hard to prepare COVID-safe operating plans, including appropriate infection control and social distancing measures, to allow us to re-open and help their members regain balance in their lives.

“In NSW there have been over 7.3 million check ins at gyms over eight weeks after lockdowns lifted on June 14. We understand case numbers have risen to five, but people were not infected in the fitness centres.

“The concept that we are a risk because of the supposed indoor transfer of airborne COVID droplets is simply not accurate.

“If bottle shops and supermarkets can be safe - fitness centres are even safer. Fitness centres were already tightly regulated by strict sanitary and hygiene protocols before the pandemic - those measures have been strengthened as part of clear and concise COVID-19 safe plans.

“Most of Victoria is COVID-19 clear - particularly in rural and regional centres. Fitness centre lockdowns in those locations simply don’t make sense. 

“Our members are also small businesses and sole traders adversely impacted by lockdown restrictions - they and their employees are feeling devastated and many are facing collapse. This is not a game of dare.”

Schleiger said VIC Active took notice of the 31st August 2020 letter sent to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews by more than 500 eminent Victorian health professionals that stated:

We, the undersigned, are senior medical practitioners of various specialities who practice in Victoria and are deeply concerned with the Victorian Government’s management of the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid19) viral pandemic as a public health issue.

The purpose of this letter is to make you aware that not all medical practitioners are in agreement with the Chief Medical Officer and the Victorian government regarding the most effective way to control this disease. We believe that an alternative medical response is required that reflects what we know about the spread of the virus, those who have died from it, and the impact that the Stage 3- 4 lockdown restrictions are having on the physical and mental health of the general population. For the sake of people in Victoria with other medical illnesses, it is vital that Stage 4 restrictions be lifted on schedule in mid-September.

Aiming to educate the Victorian Government, opinion formers and key stakeholders that fitness centres are COVID-19 safe, VIC Active will release a range of communications assets to members which can in turn be shared with their networks via social media.

Schleiger added “surely it’s time to open fitness centres at the earliest opportunity if we are to avoid a fitness and mental health catastrophe … that time is now.”

The broader industry in Victoria comprises more than 45,000 staff. While one in six Victorians regularly attend a fitness centre.

To find out more email: team@vicactive.org

Top image courtesy of Flow Athletic.

Related Articles

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

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

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

2nd September 2020 - Victorian Government announces funding support for Melbourne’s sports clubs and national sporting organisations

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

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

24th August 2020 - Victorian Government commits $4.9 million in grants for World Game Facilities Fund

21st August 2020 - Financial impact of Coronavirus leaves Victorian families unable to afford healthy food  

19th August 2020 - Victorian Chief Health Officer lifts restrictions on Melbourne residents driving to exercise

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

13th August 2020 - Campaign launched to increase sport and recreation participation throughout western Victoria

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

2nd August 2020 - Activities halted and facilities closed as Victorian Government introduces Stage four Coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne

15th July 2020 - With Victorian border closed Australia’s ski season focuses on NSW

9th June 2020 - Flow Athletic announces gym hygiene partnership

7th April 2020 - Two-thirds of the world’s fitness clubs are currently closed

24th March 2020 - FITREC’s Dennis Hosking slams ‘cavalier and irresponsible approach’ of Fitness Australia in promoting continuation of outdoor training services

19th March 2020 - Gyms emphasise hygiene practices but look for business support 

17th March 2020 - Fitness First highlights gym hygiene measures


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