This time last year, even before the UK officially went into lockdown, many gyms and studios took the decision to close to keep their staff and customers safe. Now, nearly two months into yet another national lockdown, Zoom yoga classes and HIIT workouts via Instagram Live have become part of the ‘new normal’. But nothing beats the thrill of sweating in a room with a bunch of strangers. So when will UK gyms start to reopen, and what will they even look like?
The government’s latest statement on easing the UK lockdown is a ‘roadmap’ towards recovery, with different types of business opening in ‘steps’ over the coming months.
Under this plan, outdoor fitness venues will reopen first, under Step 1 on March 29. This will include facilities like tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and open-air swimming pools and lidos, along with organised, outdoor group sports.
Indoor sports venues, including gyms, will reopen under Step 2, no earlier than April 12. Social-distancing rules will still be in place.
Finally, on May 17, organised indoor sport can resume. This includes indoor exercise classes, personal training and sport coaching.
All those dates are subject to change if infection numbers don’t keep heading south.
Although there’s light at the end of the tunnel, the impact of the extended closure will be felt by businesses across the industry. Last summer, we spoke to Caoimhe Bamber, co-founder of fitness studio Digme, which has five branches in London. She said that the current situation is ‘perilous for the industry and the jobs within it’, adding: ‘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. ‘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.’