Leeds gym owners speak of relief at being able to welcome people back - and help boost both mental and physical well-being

Gym owners in Leeds say they are looking forward to helping to boost the city’s mental and physical well-being now they have been given the green-light to open their doors.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 4:45 pm
Richard Hill, who runs Iveridge Health Club in Rothwell. Picture: Gary Longbottom

Richard Hill, who runs Iveridge Health Club in Rothwell, has spoken of his relief at being able to re-open his gym and welcome everyone back from Monday.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing the community again and helping to get them mentally and physically back to normal.

“People being asked to isolate and lock themselves away - the word ‘isolation’ is one of the worst words you can use for a human being.

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“We need to get back to face-to-face communicating and face-to-face coaching.

“It’s a big step to coming out of lockdown and it’s going to affect a lot of people. The need to just start to connect with other human beings has never been bigger.”

The gym has launched a new 12-week fitness programme to start on Monday and 80 people have already signed up.

An app is also due to be launched at the end of April to continue to offer the online and live streamed classes which have been the gym’s way of working throughout the lockdown.

Outdoor exercise classes have been allowed since March 29 and Iveridge has been hosting a full class timetable since then, including Zumba, bootcamp, circuit training and body combat.

Richard said it's clear to see how happy everyone has been to be back exercising together again.

“People have been laughing, smiling and just glad to be out. It’s all about people’s mental well-being,” he said.

Sassi Kilami, owner of The Gym Health and Fitness Ltd in Harehills, said she is looking forward to get everyone back into the gym, where after every 90 minute session, staff will carry out a half-hour deep clean.

She said: “We have done that all the way through. I don’t put the onus on members to do that, we do it as staff. I think gyms are going to be one of the cleanest places.

"We’re eager to get back to working and get people back in and back into their routine. For people’s mental health - that’s the important thing for me."

But Sassi admitted the last 12 months have been a “struggle” and she remains anxious about the impact of lockdown on her business and whether regular gym go-ers, who will have been forced to improvise throughout the pandemic, will return.

“When you can’t open I think people forget gyms are a service. Because the Government has shut us down consistently, people have lost faith to come to the gym and that is going to hit us tremendously.”

She added: “For a business stand point we have suffered massively. But we’ve got to put that behind us and move on.”

As well as gyms, hairdressers, shops and pub beer gardens will also reopen from April 12 in England but people must not be complacent about the risks still posed by coronavirus, warned PM Boris Johnson.

Confirming the next step on the road map out of lockdown, the Prime Minister also said the difficulties facing countries in Europe illustrated the risks still posed by the pandemic.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference yesterday, Mr Johnson said: "We can't be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness affecting other countries and we have seen how this story goes.

"We still don't know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I'm afraid that they will, and that's why we are saying please get your vaccine - or your second dose - when your turn comes."

Setting out the move to the second step of the road map, Mr Johnson said the shift was "fully justified by the data".

"And on Monday the 12th I will be going to the pub myself - and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips."

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