Life After Lockdown – The Fitness Studio Owner

Take a look at her ‘Life Under Lockdown’ post too!

The Rollercoaster and the Sycamore Tree by Jules Parry

Finally, after three months of me jumping around in my makeshift fitness studio (aka our garage), and me talking to myself and a couple of screens, some lock down restrictions were lifted and I could start training actual real people in small group sessions outside.

This was such fabulous news, but I had to work out where to do it. I came up with the great idea of using our front garden. I had lots of equipment in my garage, and a private, fairly large space, with a massive tree.

The sessions were a lot of fun, we had many laughs, a couple of falls but our great members put in 100% as always. It was fabulous to be training together again.

The massive Sycamore Tree in the front garden became very much part of each workout: it was an umbrella on the traditional British drizzly summer day but also a sunshade in the tropical evenings. The tree brought a sense of calm and magic to the workouts, a side to the tree that I had never seen.

These workouts carried us into July, when the rumours were that the Fitness Industry would be able to open their doors on July 4th, which was named Super Saturday.

On Thursday 2nd of July we sat tentatively listening to the government’s announcement; hair dressers, barbers, pubs, restaurants were given the go ahead to open but the fitness industry were not mentioned, we felt forgotten! After some swearing and tears we got back on the emotional roller coaster and the outdoor sessions under the tree of magic continued.

Two weeks later, fighting back the tears we sat nervously listening to the government’s announcement again – and the words were mentioned! Indoor gyms could re-open their doors on Saturday 25th July! Wahoo! That was THE best news (alongside Leeds being top of the league with two games to go). I was so giddy and couldn’t stop smiling.

All the Covid safety preparations began. The equipment was re-arranged and the floor marked out into 3m x 3m boxes. Our capacity for each session was reduced by 50%, each member would book on their workout space. Hand sanitiser stations were available in reception and in the studio, and there was 45 minutes between each session to ensure a deep clean could be done.

We were ready, and opened our doors at 0:05 on 25th July for our first session. We had a full class, it felt so fantastic to be back. We had so much fun and I was back in my happy place along with many happy members.

The first week went really well, the trainers were glad to be back and delivered some fabulous sessions, the members felt safe, the new layout worked well, the cleaning processes were thorough – and then a bombshell was dropped. On Thursday 30th July at 10pm an announcement was made on Twitter about a local lockdown in the Bradford area. That was us!

The announcement was really vague but said that two different households could no longer meet indoors or in private gardens. We didn’t know what it meant for our business, but on Friday afternoon we had clarification that indoor gyms had to close by the end of the day. The Covid infection rate in Bradford had risen, not in Bingley though. Strangely, all pubs and restaurants were allowed to stay open which still baffles me! We straight away hopped back on that roller coaster.

We took the weekend to get our heads around things and on Tuesday launched 14 daily 30 minute back yard sessions in the outdoor space behind the studio.

The sessions include monster tyre flipping, battle ropes, sledge hammer tyre bashing, rowing, skipping and weights. The trainers and members have adapted brilliantly and we again are having fun, working up a sweat and burning many calories.

Today, 14th August, another announcement was made, more of the businesses in the country are opening up; soft play centres, bowling alleys but unfortunately our local lockdown restrictions are unchanged and we must remain closed.

This second lockdown is incredibly frustrating and I fail to see the logic, we were only open for 6 days, therefore the rise in infection rates was certainly not as a result of gyms reopening. Within other areas of local lockdown, gyms have not been instructed to close. According to the government this is a Council decision. The council have failed to provide us with any answers or evidence to back their decision.

Obesity is responsible for Covid complications, yet the fitness industry is not being heard or respected. People’s mental wellbeing has been impacted massively as a result of this pandemic, which the fitness industry also helps with – but again this hasn’t been thought about. Our gym is far safer and cleaner than many pubs but we are the ones that have had to close.

This lockdown makes no sense whatsoever, and we don’t know how long it will last for but until we can reopen we will continue to ride this roller coaster, adapt when we need to, but always deliver a brilliant workout!

Jules Parry is a 45 year old woman living in the North of England with her husband and three children, two girls and a boy, aged 13, ten and seven. She runs her own business, a group training fitness studio, (YourZone45) in Bingley, West Yorkshire, with over 200 members.

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