Gyms essential 'for the mental and physical health of millions' as industry bosses look to April 12 reopening

The decision to allow gyms and other indoor leisure facilities to reopen at the earliest possible opportunity underlines the role they play in the physical and mental health of millions, industry bosses have said.

Millions of people will be able to go back to their work-out routines when gyms, pools and leisure centres across England reopen on Monday, April 12 – and 76% have said they plan to return to fitness facilities immediately.

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Steam rooms and saunas will not be allowed to open until step three of the roadmap to lifting lockdown, which can start no earlier than Monday, May 17.

Gyms will be reopening on Monday, April 12. Picture: PA.Gyms will be reopening on Monday, April 12. Picture: PA.
Gyms will be reopening on Monday, April 12. Picture: PA.

A survey by Leisure-net of 33,000 gym members found more than three quarters (76%) intended to return to their club immediately.

Meanwhile, 69% of members were “extremely confident” in the safety measures after returning to their centre or club after the first lockdown and 90% said they would use their club more or the same when it reopens, up from 88% last June.

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Huw Edwards, chief executive of trade organisation ukactive, said: “Gyms pools and leisure centres have proven safety measures in place and they are looking forward to welcoming back members and visitors from Monday, bringing a long-awaited boost to communities across the country.

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“The decision to reopen fitness and leisure facilities in the earliest stage possible for indoor venues underlines the role they play in our nation’s social fabric and in supporting the NHS, providing an essential service for the mental and physical health of millions.”

There are some 7,200 fitness and leisure facilities across the UK, serving 17 million users and employing 189,000 people.

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Ukactive estimates there have been 700 million lost visits to facilities since the first lockdown on March 23 last year, with approximately 400 facilities gone during the crisis, as lockdown resulted in £90million in lost membership fees each week.

Data from 2,000 operators suggested the prevalence of the virus among visitors who had used facilities remained “extremely low”, at an overall rate of 1.7 cases per 100,000 visits, measured from 75 million visits across the UK between July 25 to December 27.

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