COVID-19 rules tighten for gyms

Only a month since finally being able to re-open their doors, South Coast gyms have been stung by new regulations mandating a full-time hygiene marshall to combat COVID-19.

The ruling came into effect on Saturday as NSW continues efforts to stave off a repeat of what is happening in Victoria.

One Life Gym manager Mace Innes said there was no communication or time to plan.

"We're all flying by the seat of our pants; we hope we don't end up in a situation," he said.

The 24-hour gym at Batemans Bay has re-worked opening hours to suit staff and members.

Stay Safe: Sandi Paull and Skye Falzon at One Life Gym's sanitation station, set up to be more enviro-friendly and meet the COVID-19 rules and regulations.

Stay Safe: Sandi Paull and Skye Falzon at One Life Gym's sanitation station, set up to be more enviro-friendly and meet the COVID-19 rules and regulations.

"It was physically impossible to stay open for 24-hours, we would have had to employ more staff," he said.

Innes said there was a huge downturn in people coming to the gym.

"We have lost a lot of members and have had to put double the staff on - it's not financially viable," he said.

The gym is now open and staffed from 5.30am - 8pm as well as Sundays, which was normally a day off.

Innes said the "cost has gone up massively" and he felt for facilities in Victoria doing it tough.

Despite the financial strain, Innes said "we will be open no matter what".

While this virus is attacking bodies, it's attacking people's minds

Mace Innes - One Life Gym Batemans bay

"We genuinely believe the health and fitness industry is crucial to people's mental health," he said.

"While this virus is attacking bodies, it's attacking people's minds.

"We can see the effect it has had on people's mental health."

Innes said the current rules and regulations were "necessary" but wanted more to be done to support mental health.

"It's [mental health] the biggest impact this virus has had on people," he said.

"I don't have a solution, but I know there's a need."

Innes said the use of disposable wipes, disinfectant and masks was eye-opening: "Our bins are full every two days with disposable wipes. People using 10 different machines - that's 150 wipes!"

While Innes said it was great to see people practise good hygiene, the waste was too much.

The gym moved to reusable wipes [towels] and enviro-friendly disinfectant.

"The hygiene marshall has taken on the role of making sure there are clean towels for everyone to use," Innes said.

There's not enough people coming in to cover costs of putting more staff on

Ryan Norman - Moruya Gym

Moruya Gym owners, Ryan Norman and Becky Tyrrell, are sharing the role of hygiene marshall.

They tag-team work hours at the gym.

"There's not enough people coming in to cover costs of putting more staff on," Norman said.

He also said the cleaning bill was "through the roof". Norman was surprised by the new regulation, but said it was manageable.

"I don't want to complain, everyone is going through some upheaval with this situation; other places would be doing it tougher.

New rules: Moruya Gym owner Ryan Norman wearing compulsory hi-vis as a hygiene marshall.

New rules: Moruya Gym owner Ryan Norman wearing compulsory hi-vis as a hygiene marshall.

However he believed the hospitality industry operated with less restrictions.

"I don't see why gyms are so bad," he said.

Carly Manning of the Bermagui Fitness Factory said she should be bonding with her 10-week-old on maternity leave, but has been forced back into the gym to meet the requirements of having someone on deck full time.

"It's not ideal when it's meant to be a time for me to enjoy my maternity leave," Ms Manning said.

"We've only got one staff member plus myself and he's had to pick up a lot more hours than he would have originally wanted."

The gym normally operates 24 hours, but Ms Manning said it had been limited to 8-10 hours a day.

That in itself has resulted in the potential for increased congestion during opening hours, while some have cancelled memberships outright as it no longer suits their schedule.

"It's another blow and it's really disheartening," she said.

Ms Manning said her husband already works 50 hours a week, but was also having to put in some time at the gym, while the couple have also hired some casuals in an effort to keep the doors open.

She said the renewed regulations on gyms meant they were likely running at a loss, while it had also drastically impacted on their home life.

"It seems like brick wall after brick wall," Ms Manning said.

It seems like brick wall after brick wall

Carly Manning, Bermagui Fitness Factory

"I'm missing out on giving my 10 week old a feed before bed, but I take solace in bringing something good for the community and helping people fight their demons by being open."

Ms Manning said gyms and fitness had been an outlet for many following the bushfires and maintains they have a critical role to play for the community now through COVID.

"Health and fitness are important, I know for myself - it's how I get through tough times," she said.

"The load people have taken on with bushfires and now COVID, they need an outlet."

Ms Manning said it was a shame gyms were copping a "slap on the wrist" and having to tighten security at the expense of a few doing the wrong thing, or hot spots popping up in metropolitan centres.

She said gym owners and trainers around the Valley had kept close contact throughout the pandemic and many were feeling the same tight grip on their business.

This story COVID-19 rules tighten for gyms first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.

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