Dismay as gyms and studios told to shut the doors for second time

Gyms, leisure centres and dance studios have been dismayed by the Government's decision to introduce a month-long lockdown.

Santino Sellick outside The Iron Masters Gym which is among those having to shut down once again
Santino Sellick outside The Iron Masters Gym which is among those having to shut down once again

Business owners said the move would have a huge impact – with non-essential businesses forced to close until December 2 under the rules.

It has led to them adapting – with virtual classes on offer in a bid to keep the businesses going, and keep people fit, until they can reopen.

The Iron Masters Gym, on Oxford Street in Bilston, is among those in the region closing – despite having followed every Covid-19 safety measure.

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Co-owner Santino Sellick said: "When we had the first lockdown they were saying about a second wave and we've been expecting it.

"We weren't sure when it would happen but we were expecting to go into a lockdown again. But it's been contradictory really.

"They were saying gyms were a 'hotbed' for the virus and then when we opened up they were encouraging people to get fit to better fight Covid.

"We saw a big influx in members then but the advice, it's contradictory – it's gone from it's a 'hotbed', go and get fit to fight Covid and now they're shutting gyms down fully."

The 39-year-old said the business would look to run Zoom training lessons – and had been renting out equipment to long-standing members to help them train at home.


He added: "We're trying to look at any Government advice and the laws put in place and see if there's any way we can still do business.

"We, from the beginning, have followed Government guidelines – we've made sure there's been ventilation, we've got sanitisers, entry and exit points, guidelines where people can walk – we wanted to make it as safe as possible.

"And if we can complete those guidelines then I don't understand why we have to shut really. We're the same as any business – we've got overheads such as rent to pay.

"And for us in the industry we've seen the benefits of healthier lifestyles and the impact it's had on mental health in the community.

"We've been operating a mental health support group for nine weeks and we've had them progress, but that's now shutting down and it's a shame.

"You see people progress and then it's like one step forward and two steps back."

Charlotte Plant, who runs Pure Dance Studio in Cannock, recently had a message of support from Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas saying how the venue was Covid-safe. But just over a week later and the dance studio faces having to close for the lockdown from tomorrow.

Ms Plant said: "It's a shock, really. The only thing I can say is it's going to affect us the same as usual. We can still do Zoom lessons and classes, but there's no competitions and people aren't having the lessons they would normally have and the Government is offering support but that's not going to cover the rent.

"It's come out of the blue. It's just a month, they're saying, everyone is in the same situation and people are losing their jobs.


"And even though dance is a necessity with competitions not going on it's becoming not a necessity unfortunately. There's nothing to look forward to and there's no reason to train really.

"Within the premises we have a tailoring service and that will be closed – why would people have a dance costume when there's no competitions?

"We're all struggling and I think the arts have been left to fend for themselves. Everything we've got just gets washed away for a month but we hope to come back in December."

WV Active, which runs three leisure centres across Aldersley, Bilston and near the centre of Wolverhampton, will offer virtual classes – as they did during the first lockdown.

Sean McBurney, head of leisure and wellbeing at Wolverhampton Council, said: "We will be offering free virtual classes this month whilst our centres are closed. We are currently finalising our virtual class programme and our first online class will take place on Thursday.

"The programme will cover a variety of classes for all abilities, with everything from pilates and yoga, to high-impact Les Mills favourites.

"We’ve received lots of support and positive feedback from members since reopening in the summer, particularly around health and safety and the covid measures we implemented.

"We hope our members continue to join in with our online offer until we are able to reopen."

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