Gyms exploring ways to keep members moving after closures

CHALLENGING: Nerida Bint is one of many gym owners in the region exploring their options to keep members active through closure of premises. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
CHALLENGING: Nerida Bint is one of many gym owners in the region exploring their options to keep members active through closure of premises. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Members of the community need exercise more than ever. That was the message Newcastle gym owners and personal trainers were delivering as they came to terms with closures this week.

Finding how to do that under new Federal Government restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis has meant quickly adapting the way fitness sessions are delivered.

Nerida Bint owns female only gyms Lissome in Carrington and Maitland and has never felt so anxious as in the past week.

Since Monday, when gyms and indoor sporting facilities were shut down by the government, she has lost nearly one-seventh of her 350 members across the two sites but has moved swiftly to offer online support through workouts, nutrition tips and daily contact.

"We can foresee that the full-on lockdown could come any time now, so we're just trying really hard to prepare our members as best for that as we can," Ms Bint said.

"And to adapt them to that style of training so that they have the best chance of getting through what might be four to six weeks of lockdown where nobody has access to a gym or much outdoor contact and connection."

The survival of her business remains "uncertain" and Ms Bint has urged staff to explore individual government support.

Newcastle personal trainer Scott Hingston.

Newcastle personal trainer Scott Hingston.

"I honestly don't know," she said. "I'd love to say yes, but the reality is it all just depends on how long this goes for and how we can get through the next couple of months. Every day brings a new challenge.

"We have lost around 40-50 members. People like that face-to-face connection and we've had some people who financially are just not able to continue because they're going through their own hardships. But we've had some really amazing feedback from some of the girls who want to keep training with us."

Gym owners and personal trainers expressed initial confusion on Monday as to whether the closures included outdoor training.

Clarity on Tuesday night that they could proceed with boot camps but numbers were limited to a maximum of 10 participants and with strict social distancing measures was a relief for personal trainer Scott Hingston.

He trains clients out of Green Life Gym in Merewether and will continue outdoor sessions for small groups with no equipment at Townson Oval.

Newcastle personal trainer Scott Hingston has welcomed the government's announcement he can continue to train clients outdoors with limited numbers and adequate spacing.

Newcastle personal trainer Scott Hingston has welcomed the government's announcement he can continue to train clients outdoors with limited numbers and adequate spacing.

"If it gets to the stage where everything gets locked down, then we've got to support that," Hingston said. "But while we have the opportunity to be able to get people outside I think we need to be able to do that.

"You can be creative with it. We're basically doing a circuit and it's all bodyweight, agility ... and with more people working from home there's a bit more flexibility for us."

Dan Marshall owns CoreFit Newcastle in Mayfield West and has this week successfully started online virtual sessions for his members. He was also exploring whether he could continue to deliver his outdoor component of training on the grounds of a local school.