Even before London officially went into lockdown, many gyms and studios took the decision to close, to keep their staff and customers safe.
Now, nearly two months since lockdown started, it’s pretty much impossible to source dumbbells, and Zoom yoga classes or HIIT workouts via Instagram Live have become part of the ‘new normal’. But when will gyms start to reopen and what will that even look like?
The government’s ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ document, released on Monday May 11, outlined what the next few months could hold in terms of loosening lockdown and reopening different types of venues.
According to the plan, gyms and fitness studios fall under ‘step three’, which will come into action no earlier than July 4. The document states that reopening leisure facilities, which include gyms and cinemas, ‘may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections’.
At this point, it’s impossible to predict exactly when gyms will reopen but it’s clear that the impact of this extended closure will be felt by businesses across the industry. Ed Stanbury, co-founder of Blok, which has studios in Clapton and Shoreditch, is concerned that many studios simply won’t survive. ‘The implications are huge,’ he says. ‘Fitness is a multi-billion-dollar industry and it has just been turned off overnight.’ He adds that when this crisis started, the industry was prepared for a ten- to 12-week shutdown, which most would have survived. He says: ‘We are now looking at at least six months, and then reopening with drastically reduced capacity. There is no doubt that many smaller operators, and probably a few of the bigger guys, simply will not be able to survive that.’
Caoimhe Bamber, co-founder of fitness studio Digme, which has five branches in London, says that the current situation is ‘perilous for the industry and the jobs within it’. She adds: ‘The longer any industry is required to not trade, or trade at reduced capacity, the more harm is done.’ But she acknowledges that the situation is out of their control. ‘That said, some things are more important than gyms and studios being open – at the end of the day, we are talking about people’s lives here. We’d love to get our studios open and buzzing again, but not at the expense of public health.’
Want to work out at home? Here are five endorphin-pumping exercises you can do in your gaff.
Most popular on Time Out
- Londoners told to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces
- A drive-in cinema is coming to London this summer
- The National Theatre is streaming a free play every Thursday
- These local London garden centres will deliver plants to your door
- The National Trust plans to reopen UK sites with a new pre-booking policy