HEALTH and fitness are part of the daily routine for most Coffs Coast residents.
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The climate and natural beauty of the area encourage people to exercise, particularly outdoors.
The various gyms in the area are very well patronised, so that, when they were amongst the majority of businesses that were forced to close because of COVID-19, many people had to make choices about the amount of exercise they would do.
Local gyms had to become entrepreneurial to support their members during the challenges of COVID-19.
Equipment was rented to members and activities and classes went online.
A few people gave up exercise altogether and some did not exercise until they returned to the gym, but many kept up their fitness during lockdown.
Duncan Marchant, owner of the Coffs Coast Health Club said, “We surveyed our members and found that 75% continued to exercise on their own”.
Tony Farrell, owner of Beachbodies Health Club felt that, although many members had continued to swim, walk, jog and/or cycle, not all had maintained their pre-COVID-19 fitness levels.
Both the Coffs Coast Health Club and Beachbodies Health Club report that 80% of their members have since returned.
So, even though gyms have reopened, with very stringent hygiene procedures, some people are still deterred, particularly those concerned about their immunity to disease, or that of close family.
According to Tony Farrell, others who may not yet have returned to the gym include small groups of people, particularly men, who enjoy training together.
Because of physical distancing, some of these groups have moved to other locations to maintain the social aspects of exercise.
Gym owners, like many small business owners, are apprehensive about another lockdown.
Most suffered significant income drops because membership during lockdown was optional and some members, themselves, are struggling financially and/or have health issues.
Both Duncan and Tony remain optimistic about the resilience of the industry.
Even though gyms are in friendly competition for members, Tony observed that the only way for most to survive is “Don’t jump in anyone else’s lane – just keep swimming”.
By Andrew VIVIAN