By Justin Flynn
Local gyms reopened this week as Victorian lockdown restrictions eased.
Oceans 24 gym owner Mark Rapa said, in the past, gyms had not been able to reopen immediately after lockdown ending, but Victorian Fitness Industry Advocacy Group VIC Active had lobbied hard to the state government to change that.
“In our industry there is a big push for it to be an essential service,” he said.
“VIC Active are pushing pretty hard to change the law around the restrictions and have been really vocal behind the scenes.
“Traditionally our industry hasn’t really had a voice, we don’t have a union.
“It’s taken a pandemic for us to band together and have a voice.”
Mr Rapa said his Ocean Grove gym had been very well frequented since lockdown ended.
“The first lockdown, people were really slow to get back,” he said.
“They were used to doing nothing and were a bit scared of what could happen in this environment.
“This time they have all bounced back pretty quickly. People know all the precautions – mask wearing, sanitizing.
“We know what our expectations are now.”
Mr Rapa said he has customers who are recovering stroke victims and needed the gym to continue their rehabilitation.
“For these people it’s a necessity,” he said.
“You’ve also got people who need that social contact, who live at home alone. This is their outing for the day. Go for a workout, get a coffee, have a chat.”
Mr Rapa said the gym industry was still recovering from the first lockdown last year.
“Business is up and down,” he said.
“The very first lockdown was where we hurt the most.
“We’re back to normal. We are just encouraging people not to fear us.
“It’s a clean environment, we constantly keep it clean.”