Gyms forced to close doors

Jess Sturt has been left wondering if she will have a business to return to after the Federal Government’s forced closure of local businesses such as The Gym.

In a move to further restrict the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Federal Government has forced the closure of places people gather, including local gyms.

The move that was announced on Sunday night gave business owners less than 24 hours to adjust and has left local gyms facing uncertain futures and the prospect of taking their training to an online platform.

Jess Sturt, owner of The Gym, was left feeling uneasy after the government’s announcement.

“I was definitely disappointed and to be honest, it makes me question whether we will be able to reopen in the future,” Mrs Sturt said. 

“I think we all saw it coming but … we realistically only had 12 hours to adjust to the news.”

Gym memberships are required by law to cease immediately.

“We got an email from our debit company and they have basically said all payments will have to cease immediately, meaning no income from us at all,” Mrs Sturt said.

“We were always going to offer the option of suspending memberships to our clients but we were under the impression if clients chose to keep their membership, that would be okay too.”

As a result of the drastic changes, Mrs Sturt won’t able to pay her four casual staff members and said that an extended closure could end the The Gym’s future in Tumut.

“It’s definitely going to hit hard; we were hoping to offer some payment to our staff but we have repayments on equipment, rent and we have no other option now,” Mrs Sturt said.

“We don’t know how long this will go for but if it does last six months, we are at high-risk of not reopening.

“Until we know what we are going to receive from the stimulus packages, I’m not sure where we stand and we have to prepare for the worst.”

Despite her business sitting in a precarious situation, Mrs Sturt had her client’s interests at the forefront of her thoughts and explained that she would offer online training, even though she would not profit from it.

“We are still going to offer those online classes and training programs but we will get nothing in return basically,” she said.

“A lot of other gyms have been providing work out classes via Skype and Zoom but as a result of the decision we are basically going to be doing it for free.

“At the end of the day, our clients come first and we know how important training is for physical and mental health and we want to have that option there for those who need to train.”

The Gym isn’t the only business impacted with Luke McMahon from The McMahon Method forced to close his doors at midday on Monday, a decision that will see his business take a huge financial hit.

“We had no option, we had to close our doors today (Monday) at midday and we are preparing to see a decrease of up to 50% in our revenue,” Mr McMahon said.

Despite the challenges ahead, Mr McMahon has been working with his clients in anticipation of taking some training routines online.

“We have done up bundles of equipment into three lots and we will send them home with clients along with programs that suit each lot of equipment,” McMahon said.

“Each and every day we are going to post a live video of workouts and give people an option to continue their training.

“We are going to stay in contact with clients and we want to make sure they are staying active, keeping fit and handling everything.”

Leonie Green of Drive Group Fitness Tumut was feeling for her fellow gym owners, suggesting it would be very hard for big gyms to handle the financial losses associated with these closures.

“We feel for Jess (Sturt) and Luke (McMahon) in their situation,” Mrs Green said. 

“Our overheads are nowhere near what The Gym would be and we understand that would be difficult to deal with.”

Mrs Green said that her main prerogative was the mental health of clients and explained that they were also taking steps to create a stronger online presence.

“We had clients coming in this morning crying, saying they didn’t know what we would be doing,” Green said.

“We had to reassure them that we would all get through this and as a result, we want to keep our presence online.

“As long as we maintain that contact, which I think that is the most important thing, we can all get through this.”

Drive Group Fitness Tumut has since offered free online training and wholesale prices on equipment, which will allow clients to train at home.

“We have offered our clients wholesale prices on any equipment we use and we will have a closed, invite-only group online for people who have been involved, or want to get involved with Drive,” Mrs Green said.

She had some advice for gym members all over Tumut and surrounds as the ban of gatherings continued.

“It’s important that people stay active and that is what we want to see,” Green said.

“We are suggesting families go out for a bushwalk, or go for a bike ride, or just use your imaginations to keep fit and active.”