Posted: Mon 9th Nov 2020

Flintshire gym owners relieved to reopen once more after second ‘firebreak’ lockdown ends

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

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Local gym owners from Flintshire are relieved to reopen once more after the second ‘firebreak’ lockdown ended today, 9 November.

Gym owners Ricky Nicholson, AF Fitness Flintshire, and Matt Inskip, Toe2Toe Fitness, have both had positive responses since the closing of their facilities over a fortnight ago.

Ricky, a former World Professional Kickboxing champion, is “loving having people training back in our facility” says Marc Owen, one of the business’s partners.

“He is determined to get back to normal and get everyone back to enjoying the facility and the classes on offer as much as we can with the current government guidelines,” Marc said.

“Being a new business that has opened recently in these challenging times we recognized in our planning that another lockdown would come at some point and we have tried to factor this into our projections.

“It is the uncertainty of it all that is the most challenging aspect as it means people holding back on booking memberships as they didn’t know whether the two week lockdown was going to be extended further in any way.

“Luckily it hasn’t and with the amazing support we have had from the community we will continue to move forward how we can and continue to promote the huge benefits to health and wellbeing that our gym can offer.”

Matt Inskip, who is still actively fighting in Thai Boxing, was similarly happy to see the backend of the firebreak.

“With having my own gym, I’ve still been able to train during lockdown but it’s not quite the same training on your own,” he said.

The first lockdown, which was several months long, was a lot more impactful though, Matt says, since the gym was forced to close whereas the second two-week firebreak pales in comparison.

“It affected us massively,” he said.

“We had no income during the first lockdown for four or five months, but we had a bit of relief from the government which basically paid the bills.

“When starting to get the numbers back into the classes we were restricted with what we could and couldn’t do, so that’s affected the income coming into the gym.

“The likes of the MMA, jiujitsu – we still can’t be putting those classes on, they’re effectively banned sports still.

“We’re limited in boxing with what we can and can’t do – we can’t keep our fighters active with shows coming up, so it’s hard to keep them motivated.

“With the feedback we’ve had from this lockdown, everyone’s keen to get back today. So, fingers crossed it shouldn’t have had too much of an effect on us.”

Both agree extra funding would help their situations, being grassroots facilities ran independently, but are happy with how their members are responding to the challenges faced over lockdown.

Marc said: “A fund to support gyms and facilities in particular to stay open and support the physical and mental wellbeing of the public would be very positive and welcome.

“It would be great if local authorities could receive extra funding from government that could then could be passed on to support and recognize the positive physical and mental benefits that gyms can give to the community, and also help to support them to offer special packages that would be widely available to more people in the community if this was financially viable for them.”

Matt on the other hand says “extra funding would be great.”

He is currently restricted to 15 people per class, but to avoid disappointment for himself in terms of making a profit he has decided to double up and split two classes between different parts of his “massive” facility.

“Luckily enough I’ve got the space in the gym to social distance – it’s a big area to split the classes into, so it hasn’t really been a massive problem until now with it being 15,” he said.

Ricky kept busy over the lockdown period organising online classes, activities and challenges for his members such as his ‘5KADAY Challenge’ where he set members a goal of covering 500km via walking, running or cycling collectively.

With them hitting over 940km, Ricky and his team donated £100 to Dementia UK.

Matt himself says “there was not a big deal we could have done with being locked down this time,” and therefore trained at his gym whilst spending time with family.

He however believes another lockdown will only have an impact if the duration is longer than the second two-week firebreak.

He said: “It’s had a massive effect on everyone mentally.

“It was hard enough trying to get people back into the gym after the first lockdown, but with this one it hasn’t been too bad.

“With it only being two weeks, I think we’ll be able to get the people back.

“The booking-in system seems to be quite popular again, but I think if we went into another big lockdown then it will be really hard to get people back.”

Ricky and Marc agree, with Marc stating: “The impact of another lockdown would all depend on how long that would last for we think.

“As a fairly new business we have structured ourselves with the current climate that we have in mind so have been cautious in every way we can.

“It’s the uncertainty of everything that has the biggest effect we feel and the confidence that people can have that the gym can be open for them to train in.

“A longer lockdown again would be devastating for all businesses after this year to date, but again we remain positive that the future is brighter in the long term and therefore we will keep doing our best for our customers and the community come what may – hopefully the support of the government and local authority will be in place to support that moving forward.”

By Jordan Adams

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