Fitness franchises join fight to get gyms open in Victoria

By Sarah Stowe | 08 Sep 2020 View comments

Fitness franchises are joining the fight to re-classify gyms, health clubs, fitness centres and studios as essential services, following an open letter from Fitness Australia.

Michael Jordan, CEO of 12RND Fitness, issued a statement in support of Fitness Australia’s push back against Victorian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brett Sutton’s comments that gyms are “high risk” and “cause outbreaks”.

Jordan pointed to his own brand experience with a Covid-19 case.

“A 12RND Fitness club in Queensland, previously attended by two members who tested positive for Covid-19, linked to a known cluster, resulted in 0 cases of community transmission following their workout,” he pointed out.

“Throughout the process of contact tracing, Queensland Health were extremely satisfied with our efforts to track member visits using our member management system, and that our cleaning, sanitisation and social distancing practices all met and exceeded Government standards.”

Jordan said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ roadmap for the state to ease restrictions meant fitness providers such as 12RND Fitness will only be able to reopen in the final stage of the plan.

“Provided that there are no new cases for 14 days prior to the step’s scheduled commencement, this would mean that exercise facilities would reopen on the 23rd of November,” Jordan said.

“Individuals will continue to go without access to expert support from certain health and fitness professionals for another 10 weeks, in addition to over 150 days of forced closures to date,” he pointed out.

In his statement Jordan acknowledged and supported the efforts of the Victorian government to implement strategies in the interest of public health and safety. 

But he argues that the physical and mental health needs of Victorians can be best served by opening up gyms and fitness centres under heavily restricted guidelines.

“In line with Fitness Australia we want to demonstrate gyms are low risk environments that should be reopened as soon as possible as an essential service to benefit the health of our communities,” Jordan says.

Justin McDonell, co-founder and chair of Anytime Fitness Australia and Collective Wellness Group, also voiced his support for Fitness Australia’s stand, sharing and commenting on recent Fitness Australia LinkedIn posts:

“Fully support your views Barry. From what we have seen Gyms are safe” and “Great to have the numbers to back up the fact that gyms are safe.”

The call for rethinking the approach to Victoria’s gyms reopening has raised a number of petitions, including a Victorian Parliament Legislative Council e-petition which has accrued 10,297 signatures to date.

Selina Bridge, CEO of KX Pilates, last week posted on LinkedIn her support of a Change.org petition to open up fitness studios which has reached 20,000 signatures so far.