Gyms across Lancaster and Morecambe get ready to reopen after lockdown

The Hive Crossfit team.The Hive Crossfit team.
The Hive Crossfit team.
Gyms and personal trainers across the Lancaster district are gearing up to open for business once again after the government eased lockdown measures further.

In line with government regulations, gyms - along with non-essential shops, restaurants, pubs and bars - closed their doors at the end of March as part of the UK's fight to stop the spread of Covid-19.

However, Thursday's announcement by the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden means gyms have finally been given the go-ahead to reopen on July 25, alongside swimming pools and outdoor arts performances.

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At 3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster, staff have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure everything is safe and ready for the restart.

3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster.3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster.
3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster.

Manager Deena Gillan said it had been a frustrating wait for a decision to be made.

"We had originally hoped for July 4," she said. "They were saying how important it was to get your exercise, and in other countries health clubs werre opening before restaurants and bars.

"Also, chlorine kills coronavirus but we weren't allowed to open the pool.

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"We have a lot of members with mobility issues and just half an hour in the pool can alleviate someone's pain a lot."

Deena Gillan, manager of 3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster.Deena Gillan, manager of 3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster.
Deena Gillan, manager of 3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster.

Deena said the club has had to keep on top of numerous guidelines.

"It's been a constant battle keeping up with everything," she said. "We were reading guidelines knowing that they might change a few days later.

"We have reduced our class sizes by 50 per cent, and to ensure we can still facilitate all our customers we have had to double the number of classes.

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"We have had some building work going on so that we can host outdoor training classes, and we have moved furniture and gym equipment around.

"We have also invested a lot in hand sanitiser stations and changed our rotas to allow for new cleaning procedures and social distancing.

"All our staff have had updated training and will be having a final run-through next week."

Deena said the club was inundated with enquiries following the government's announcement last Thursday.

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She said: "By Friday morning we already had people asking for bookings. We have been inundated with requests from people desperate to be back, it's gone crazy.

"We have also had a lot of people enquiring who have never been a member of a gym before."

Deena said classes will adhere to the two metre rule in most cases, although more dynamic classes will have even more space to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

"We feel we have now got a good basis to start with, and once we have got people coming we can look at how it's working and see if anything needs tweaking," she said.

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Members will be able to book via the club's members app from Friday - the app will tell customers how many people are in the building at that time, to ensure they feel comfortable before they visit.

Meanwhile, staff at Hive Athletics - CrossFit Central Lancaster are also delighted to be re-opening their doors later this month.

A spokesman said: "We are in a better position than most health clubs, as we are based in a big 'warehouse'. This is going to enable us to easily adhere to the 100sq foot per person that has been set out, while maintaining a 2m social distance.

"At the forefront of our minds as we do re-open is our members and coaches safety and confidence, but we are still ready to provide the unique experience that Hive Athletics is known for.

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"We have two large shutter doors that can be kept open to keep fresh air flowing, plenty of equipment so sharing equipment is not needed, and a strict class structure to ensure the flow of one class to the next is as safe as possible. There will be deep cleans, mini cleans and class numbers will be limited.

"All that is left to do now is open the doors and welcome faces old and new. This may be a new normal to training, but our coaches are ready to give expert guidance and continue to support clients on their journey to health, strength and individual goals.

"As a final note, the team at Hive Athletics would like to praise the loyalty and dedication of its members for keeping its head above water during the Covid-19 pandemic - you guys rule!"

Measures set out in the government guidance for gyms include:

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*Limiting the number of people using the facility at any one time, for example by using a timed booking system;

*Reducing class sizes and allowing sufficient time between each class to avoid groups waiting outside during changeover;

*Ensuring an appropriate number of people are in a swimming pool at any one time;

*Spacing out equipment or taking some out of service to maintain social distancing;

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*Enhanced cleaning and providing hand sanitiser throughout venues;

*Considering how the way people walk through their venue could be adjusted to reduce contact, with queue management or one-way systems;

*Ensuring adequate ventilation;

*Encouraging the use of outdoor spaces for individual, team or group activities, making sure to comply with the latest restrictions on public gatherings;

*Exercise or dance studios should have temporary floor markings where possible to help people stay distanced during classes;

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*Customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms will be available;

*Despite face coverings being recommended in enclosed spaces, those attending the gym will not need to wear one.