SUPPORT must be provided for gyms in Scotland to ensure they are in shape to help the nation come through the Covid-19 pandemic.
That was the message from Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell at the weekend after he toured the LAactive premises at Silverlaw, Annan. His host was proprietor Lesley-Ann Johnstone, who highlighted the extensive distancing, sanitising and other precautions already in place at the spacious three-zone facility. Lesley-Ann, who built up the business over a decade, stated she was relieved that the industry had been given a provisional opening date of September 14. But she warned the financial challenges of reopening after around six months of closure could not be understated. She said: "My staff and I are raring to go, as are many of our customers who have been regularly enquiring. But, after such a long enforced shutdown, we really need some practical Government help to return in a viable way. "The benefit of exercise and fitness in improving mental health is very important and that is something I'm keen to promote, especially at this difficult time. It is another reason gyms should be open as early as possible."
During his visit, Oliver Mundell stated he felt it was important gyms like LActive should be able to resume soon, particularly when similar fitness centres were open a few miles away in England and other parts of the UK. He expressed surprise gyms had not opened earlier given facilities such as pubs and restaurants had and he pointed out that studies indicated fitness improved recovery outcomes from conditions such as Covid-19. He said: "Lesley-Ann's and other similar businesses in my constituency have invested a great deal to enhance health safeguarding, including screens, sanitising stations and plans to greatly reduce numbers training at any one time. "It will be a real struggle financially for gyms and fitness centres to get going again and I intend pressing the Scottish Government to provide them with meaningful support to reopen, earlier than planned, if possible."
The MSP also highlighted a petition at change.org, started by Chris Allan, calling for Scottish Government grants to help gyms resume.