10 Nov Herald Sun – Melbourne Gymns Re- Open (9.11.20)
Melbourne’s gyms, outdoor swimming pools to reopen under eased restrictions
Melbourne’s fitness junkies have at last been a dose of good news — they can resume exercising indoors after a long, dark winter, with the city’s gyms finally given a firm reopening date.
Get moving Victoria. Gym junkies and swimmers were at last given some good news that they can resume exercising after a long, dark winter.
The number of swimmers allowed in outdoor pools will increase to 50 from Wednesday while gyms can reopen for up to 20 people from November 9.
Also from Wednesday, outdoor community sport for under 18s can resume, as can outdoor adult non-contact sports, among a range of changes to sport and recreation.
But confusion reigned over whether trainers or gym members should wear masks while in the gym or while exercising.
Government advice was for a “recommendation to wear face masks”, with fitness experts saying a mouth covering during physical exertion was impractical.
A COVID-safe marshal also has to be in place for gyms and fitness studios in Melbourne. The restrictions also limit activity to 10 people per gym space and one person per 8sq m, another sticking point for owners trying to revive their business after seven months in hibernation.
Michaela Fellner, owner of Bodhi & Ride studios, said she was surprised the government had remembered the fitness sector.
“It does mean that from Wednesday we can go back into the studios and use our equipment to livestream classes,” she said.
But the actual reopening with patron limits from November 9 was a bittersweet change, Ms Fellner said.
“It’s the one thing that is disappointing when you compare to other venues such as restaurants and bars. Why are gyms only allowed one person per 8 sqm and hospitality venues have much less?’’ she said.
Ms Fellner said the rules around face masks were unclear and the cost of employing a COVID-safe marshal was “hideous’’.
Nathan Weidemann, director of Vision PT Prahran, said the fitness industry was ready to reopen.
“We find it extraordinary that you will be able to go for a parma and pot before you can step foot inside a health and fitness facility,’’ Mr Weidemann said.
“With swipe cards and booking systems already in place at gyms, along with cleaning protocols already standardised, the fitness sector is and has always been prepared.”
Prahran Aquatic Centre spokesman Jim Carden said swimmers were delighted at the news of being able to dive back into their local pool.
“It’s fantastic news because there’s so much pent-up demand and it comes at the right time with the weather turning,’’ Mr Carden said.
The easing of restrictions also meant parents would be able to resume their children’s swimming safety lessons in time for summer, he said.
Personal trainer Mark Ottobre, of Enterprise Fitness in Richmond, said the changes meant he could reopen his business, which offers one-on-one services, from November 9.
“But my heart goes out to gym owners. Some of them will go out of business,” he said. “If you’re only allowed 20 people inside it’s going to be tough.’’