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Why thousands of gym owners were left ‘devastated’

2 weeks ago 10

A peak Australian fitness body has penned a desperate letter to Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton, saying “thousands” of gym owners were “left devastated” by his comment their industry “caused outbreaks”.

In the letter to Professor Sutton on Monday, Fitness Australia chief Barrie Elvish wrote: “Yesterday when speaking at the Victorian COVID road map press conference, and echoing the Premier, you stressed the importance of using data to make informed decisions yet, in the space of 20 seconds you repeated twice the claims gyms are a ‘known high-risk setting’ and ‘cause outbreaks’.”

“I know from myriad comments I received yesterday that your words were devastating to thousands of gym owners, exercise professionals, personal trainers and gym members across Victoria,” Mr Elvish wrote.

“Devastating, because many owners, sole traders and employees see their livelihoods being destroyed through no fault of their own and despite endeavouring to work collaboratively with Victorian authorities.”

On Sunday, as Premier Daniel Andrews announced stage-four lockdown measures in Melbourne would be extended until September 28, Professor Sutton said gyms would be among some of the last businesses to reopen.

“They are still high risk inherently because of the exertion that people are undergoing at the gym and the fact that it is an indoor setting,” he said.

“But boot camps are different and obviously we want to encourage those outdoor activities on those principles that it is a much, much lower risk to do anything outdoors.”


Gyms and exercise studios in Victoria were the last in the country to reopen on June 22 after closing in mid-March during the first wave of the pandemic.

They were then forced to shut again after just two-and-a-half weeks after Mr Andrews declared a 6 week lockdown.

In his letter, Mr Elvish claimed data by Fitness Australia in NSW showed there were more than 7 million visits across 500 facilities without a single cases of coronavirus since reopening in mid-June.

“I am not so imprudent to believe that at some time in the future there may be some community transmission within an exercise facility but the data to date indicates that with good protocols, and positive adherence to them by all stakeholders, gyms can be indeed low risk,” he wrote.

Under the road map plan, some conditions will be eased from 11.59pm on September 13, including the 8pm curfew, which will move to 9pm to account for longer spring days, while public outdoor gatherings of up to 2 people will be allowed.

Exercise will also be doubled to 2 hours per day.

Singles will be able to have 1 nominated person visit them as part of a “bubble” system.

But people must continue staying within 5km of their home, unless they are travelling for essential work or education purposes.

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