Gym manager moves equipment outdoors for avid exercisers to return to training

10 July 2020, 11:03

By Megan White

A gym manager was so keen to reopen amid the coronavirus lockdown he moved equipment outdoors, creating “Muscle Beach” for exercise fanatics.

Dave Bargent, who runs Unit 7 in Exeter, said he had been calling for gyms to have an opening date for “a long time” and had been hoping to reopen on July 4.

But after no date materialised, he decided to create an outdoors space for people to return to working out, which has been permitted since early July.

Gyms, pools, beauty salons and theatres: What is re-opening and what are the rules?

The Government eventually announced on Thursday that indoor gyms could reopen on July 25 – three weeks after pubs and restaurants opened their doors.

Mr Bargent told LBC News: “We’ve been calling for gyms to have an opening date for a long time.

Dave Bargent, manager of Unit 7 in Exeter, said he had been calling for gyms to have an opening date for “a long time”
Dave Bargent, manager of Unit 7 in Exeter, said he had been calling for gyms to have an opening date for “a long time”. Picture: LBC News

“Since May, UK Active have been pushing for a framework and guidelines as to how we can reopen, and the Government have taken it on board but they haven’t given us any feedback on it.

“Everyone in our industry was hoping for July 4 but the Government obviously didn’t allow that to happen, which was a bit of a shock to many in the industry, and now we’re just waiting.

“Our decision here to open Muscle Beach outside was we either wait and not know and continue to lose cash, or we try and do something in the meantime until we finally get that date.

“We just had this idea of moving the gym outside so we acted quickly on it and put together the plans pretty quickly and moved all the kit outside so we could operate and start generating some sort of income without knowing when we could operate indoors.”

Equipment was moved outdoors to create 'Muscle Beach'
Equipment was moved outdoors to create 'Muscle Beach'. Picture: LBC News

He added: “The response here has been pretty fantastic, our membership group are pretty dedicated, just massively keen to get back into training.

“We’ve had an awesome uptake – we’ve had our members as well as members from other gyms just so desperate to get back into training that they’ve been booking sessions up.

“We have followed all the guidelines, we’ve spaced kit out two metres apart, all the social distancing signs on the floors, we’ve got limits on numbers that can come into the gym at any one time.

“If pubs are allowed to operate with their distancing measures in place, there’s no reason why gyms shouldn’t be allowed to operate following more stringent guidelines.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced on Thursday that indoor gyms can open in just a few weeks.

Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, he said indoor pools and leisure centres will be permitted to open, so long as social distancing rules can be obeyed.

However, outdoor pools will be allowed to open from Saturday.

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