Local gyms in Utrecht impacted by COVID-19

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The fitness industry was one of the last to open its doors again to their members. Their doors were initially set to be opened in August/September but a few bigger gym owners stepped forward and convinced the government to allow opening in July 1 2020. How has this pandemic impacted this industry?  

Bigger gym chains had a greater advantage than local gyms 

Due to the gyms being temporarily closed because of the pandemic there was a huge influx of people buying gym equipment for home use. The bigger chains had more stability in keeping their business afloat during their closure. The ones that really felt the impact were the local gyms in Utrecht. Many gym owners were left in shock as to why hairdressers, nails salons and tattoo parlors could open their doors earlier than the fitness industry.  

Exercise helps the immune system 

They all believed health comes first to allow the human body to have a strong immune system. Gyms like Fit-Fast, Curves, FIG ( Food and Bar Gym) and Sportcentrum Olympos have all told their story on how they approached the whole situation and how they are doing now. 

Fit-Fast paused all the gym memberships for their clients until the first of July and offered workouts online to the members. In mid-May outside training was allowed but under strict regulations. Once doors were open on the July 1st, members were allowed to train indoors adhering to the regulations such as the 1.5 meter distance rule. Due to the layout of the gym, the members can come in through the back entrance which leads them into the main workout space. Members all have their workout station and disinfectant is provided to clean the equipment after use. Some members have left and some new ones have joined. There has been an increase in personal training so this has helped greatly.   

Curves also offered their members online home workout videos. Before the pandemic, they mainly offered indoor training for their members. In mid-May they took the opportunity to offer outside training to their members. Since their re-opening in July 1st, they divided their schedule to be indoors and outdoors (some of their members aren’t ready to train indoors yet). They are allowed a maximum of 9 members to train indoors adhering to the 1.5 meter distance. They asked their members to use disinfectant before their workout and unfortunately their dressing rooms can’t be used. They also now work with an online booking reservation system. Due to the pandemic, they lost a lot of their income. The owner runs most of the workouts as salary for extra staff can’t be provided. They lost some members and some are still waiting to see how the situation unfolds. There are also new members looking for a gym, so that brings some positivity. The owner does believe there is a positive change happening in this whole situation, and people have realized that sports plays a big factor in their health and now they are allowed to do it. 

Gyms offering food had an earlier start of indoor regulations 

FIG (Food and Bar Gym) also offered their members online home workout videos, but they soon realized that some members just couldn’t continue with following the videos anymore. A lot of their members were anxiously waiting for this whole closure of the gym to change. In mid-May they started their outside workouts. As FIG is also a restaurant, they opened the food bar on June 1st. They were ahead of understanding how to follow indoor protocol. Once they could open their indoor gym, they also asked their members to disinfect their workstations after a workout. Due to their small gym size, the numbers of members allowed to train indoors was greatly reduced. Luckily they still continued to hold outdoor workouts at the same time. In the first two weeks, members were hesitant to do their workout indoors but the numbers of indoor participants are slowly increasing. The amount of memberships have decreased in comparison to the number before the pandemic, but they are hoping that with time, things will slowly come back to normal. 

Sportcentrum Olympos’s, where 80% of the members are students due to their location near the campus, is a gym that focuses more on team sports. During the early stage of the pandemic, they began offering online lessons and training instruction videos. Once they were allowed to open outdoor training, they offered tennis, climbing, outdoor fitness and group lessons. They did have to adhere to the social distancing guidelines. Since July 1st, they could open their indoor training but they were still limited due to COVID regulations. Lessons are also limited to a time slot reservation system. Extra hygiene is also obligatory. The sports café opened on June 1st and has to follow the bar and restaurant protocol, this too has been impacted due to limited capacity and hours. There has been a decrease in subscribers due to the lock-down as the students and some of the international clients have all left Utrecht. Although they are open, most members are now on vacation in line with summer holiday season. Things will and are slowly picking up as some teams decided to continue training during this period.

Photo by Maciej Karon on Unsplash

The pandemic has affected many local gyms and they all are working hard to get through these times. Remember that a healthy life style provides a healthy immune system. Support the local gyms in Utrecht.

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About the Author

Sarah Chebaro

Sarah Chebaro

Sarah Chebaro is an Architect/Graphic designer who graduated with a MSc from TU Delft. She realized she wants to delve into the Journalism world and is now pursuing that part of the creative field. She is a traveler and enjoys to start conversations to allow people to explore certain subjects that they do not normally think about. She is an athlete wanting to inspire people to get their goals and aspires to spread the truth about what is happening around us.

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