Gym hopeful of avoiding lockdown with April opening as set out in Prime Minister's 'road map'

A co-owner of a gym in the Black Country has welcomed an opening date of April to help avoid another lockdown as restrictions ease.

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

Santino Sellick, who runs the Iron Masters Gym in Bilston with his brother Carlo, said it was better than having the opening "rushed".

It comes after the Prime Minister announced gyms – along with non-essential retail businesses – would reopen no earlier than April 12.

He said: "To be honest, from a business perspective, we would prefer opening later on and for it to be a success than being able to open up and be shut down for four more weeks – that would be detrimental to the business and to people's minds and emotions.

"People don't want to return back to normality and then straight away be in another lockdown. With regards to people's mental health, we've seen the effect this [lockdown] has had on some members of the community. We run a mental health group and we're aware there's been a detrimental effect on people – we'll designate our time to that when we can open.

"They do feel like their liberty has been taken away. Yes, it's for a great cause, definitely, but when someone's life is built up a certain way – going to the gym, going shopping, socialising – and that's taken away, it's really detrimental."

Action

The 39-year-old said work was now underway to freshen up the gym, as well as a plan to recruit apprentices and another plan to kick-start the mental health group again – with help from the DIS Group.

He added: "As soon as we got that information that we can reopen on April 12 we got into action – I've been touching up the paint and freshening up places so it's ready when the day comes. There will be other things, most likely, that we have to put in place and we'll make sure it's all done when we're ready to open.

"From our point of view, the effect it's had on households – regardless of the business – is really startling. As a business you're still paying rent on the premises and you're hoping the business will pick up from where it left off. But the effect on the local community has been huge.

"There's going to be people coming back from furlough and it's important that there's jobs available for them. And we're looking, because we know the effect on the community, of taking on some apprenticeships as soon as we can open up.

"We've been lucky that we've been supported by another big local business called DIS Group and they're the Wolverhampton Wanderers' signage partners. They knew what we've been doing with the mental health group and they've recently donated a signed Wolves shirt to go up for raffle – to benefit the mental health group – when we can open and we're extremely grateful for that."

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