Victoria’s $500 million fitness and exercise industry that comprises more than 1,500 gyms and health clubs along with yoga and Pilates studios and employs more than 40,000 Victorians have been crippled by the fourth lockdown with losses already in excess of $10 million.
Fitness Australia sees that the current stage three seven-day lockdown was already going to cost millions of dollars but warned that any extension of the lockdown would likely see many businesses forced to shut permanently.
Advising that current gym check-in data from a sample of approximately 500 Victorian member gyms showed more than 6.4 million people had visited a gym in the past six months using electronic swipe access - a system that was able to provide real-time check-in data for contact tracking,
Fitness Australia Chief Executive, Barrie Elvish stated "like many industries right now in Victoria, we are hurting badly and, with the prospect of even longer shutdowns looking more likely by the day, we have thousands of small business owners and people who may not be able to survive.
“In Victoria, there are almost 1 million gym users who go to the gym weekly to keep healthy and exercise in a safe environment with COVID-Safe practices in place. Last month there were more than 6.4 million visits to a gym – what other industry can provide real-time accurate data like that? None.
“Yet, in some media reports over the past week gyms and exercise facilities are still being singled out as places of “high-risk”, which is not based on fact or current data.
“As an industry, we are in the business of helping people look after their health, remain active and support overall wellbeing including vital mental health. It is unacceptable for us to again be singled out when there is no data to support the fallacious high-risk argument.”
Local business impact
With the majority of gyms and exercise centres individually owned and operated, the small business impact has been devastating.
For business owner Paul Nemer, who operates Genesis Health, Fitness and Swim School in Melton, the shutdowns have drained his life savings and left him wondering what his young children’s future was going to be like.
Nemer stated "last year’s closures took a devasting toll on my family, my staff and my business. We went from $60,000 a week in revenue to less than $600 overnight, with no end in sight.
It was gut-wrenching. To be faced with this prospect of that happening all over again is very hard to comprehend.
He explained that while there had been positive developments in recent months with signs that things were rebounding faster than expected. this week’s lockdown is a huge blow to his business’s recovery.
Nemer went on to say "prior to this week’s lockdown, we’d had more than half of our members return, which is higher than what I expected it to be. This fourth lockdown will certainly see people cancel or continue to suspend their membership.
“That makes it very hard to make up for the 12 months of lost time. I’m paying an additional $9,000 of rent a month to repay over $225,000 in deferred rent, and that’s very hard to do when my business isn’t trading right now.
“I’d estimated it would take my business approximately two to three years to get back to the same financial position as pre-COVID but these further lockdowns and uncertainly will see that push out even further.”
First published on the Fitness Australia website.
Image: The Genesis Health, Fitness and Swim School in Melton.
1st June 2021 - Melbourne Coronavirus situation sees State of Origin opener relocated to Townsville
31st May 2021 - Bendigo gym returns to online classes through Victoria’s latest Coronavirus lockdown
28th May 2021 - Fourth COVID lockdown ‘a monumental kick in the guts’ for Victorian fitness operators
28th May 2021 - Victorian COVID lockdown forces AFL to change weekend fixture plans
27th May 2021 - Fitness Australia urges locked down Victorians not to forget the importance of physical activity
27th May 2021 - Victoria Government announces seven-day lockdown
6th May 2021 - Fitness Australia, ESSA and SMA join forces to launch pre-exercise screening system specifically for young people
23rd March 2021 - Fitness Australia says industry ‘continues to strengthen’ 12 months since COVID-19 shutdowns
3rd March 2021 - Genesis Health and Fitness Chief Executive positive about 2021 resurgence
24th February 2021 - Fitness Australia welcomes NSW Government’s lifting of gym class numbers to 50 people
23rd February 2021 - Fitness Australia’s Barrie Elvish highlights the value of health
16th February 2021 - WynActive multi-purpose facilities secure Fitness Australia Quality Accreditation
4th January 2021 - Fitness Australia calls for Federal government to introduce national plan to improve physical activity rates
14th December 2020 - Belgravia Health and Fitness announces new Genesis franchisee in Cairns
1st December 2020 - Fitness Australia partners with Latrobe University to launch industry survey
17th November 2020 - Fitness Australia Chief Executive questions why gyms must close but pubs can stay open
16th October 2020 - Fitness Australia’s Barrie Elvish maintains calls for gyms to open in regional Victoria
14th October 2019 - Genesis Health and Fitness continues network expansion with new Queensland club
10th April 2019 - Rebranded Genesis Health and Fitness club operational in Ballarat
3rd May 2018 - Genesis franchises successful ‘Coaching Zone’ concept
16th August 2017 - Genesis Fitness Melton’s Swim School wins Life Saving Victoria Award
17th February 2016 - Belgravia Leisure re-awarded Melton Waves Leisure Centre management contract
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