Gyms and leisure centres across the capital have warned that a lockdown in the New Year could be “catastrophic”, as one says it’s already seen customer numbers drop by 30 per cent.
The beginning of the year is normally the busiest time for membership sales, where gyms can sell a third of their yearly memberships from the second week of January to mid-February.
Mark Sesnan, Chief Executive of Better, who operate about a third of London’s public leisure centres, told MyLondon: “It will be catastrophic for a number of businesses if they lockdown in the New Year again.”
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Mr Sesnan said: “In that first five weeks of the year we probably take about a third of the memberships for the whole year.
“We lost it all last year because we were in full lockdown, to lose it again in the coming year would be disastrous for most health and fitness businesses.”
Even without a government enforced lockdown where gyms would be told to close, gyms and fitness centres are already struggling.
Mr Sesnan revealed that due to the government telling people to work from home, “we’ve effectively got a lockdown by stealth”.
Up until a few weeks ago Better’s gyms “were doing quite well” with about 80 to 85 percent of pre-lockdown business back.
Mr Sesnan said: “But when the government made the announcements that you shouldn’t go to work any more that dropped by 20 or 30 percent overnight.”
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The business, which operates leisure centres across the city such as in Highgrove and Hillingdon, already took a hit after the previous lockdowns.
It was revealed that by the end of 2021 their accounts are showing a £16.5million loss for first time ever due to the Covid closures, even after all the business reliefs and grants
The government has been slammed by fitness business for the failure to include them in the most recent Covid support package.
Rishi Sunak announced that hospitality firms can apply for grants of up to £6,000 to deal with the collapse in confidence caused by the Omicron variant.
However, fitness businesses were not included in the offer.
Several gyms have since written a letter to the Prime Minister, warning that the sector is “now on a knife-edge fighting for survival”.
According to the Guardian, independent London gyms, such as Frame, Triyoga and 1Rebel, said the capital’s fitness industry had been “decimated by a lockdown in all but name”, with attendance slashed.
Sandy Macaskill, co-founder of Barry’s UK, told the BBC : “It feels we are being completely ignored and it’s heart-breaking.”
Since the government told people to work from home, Mr Macaskill has had to close three of his London sites temporarily because of low footfall.
Duncan Jefford, Regional Director at Everyone Active, told MyLondon: “In line with the current guidance, we are still actively encouraging members to visit their local Everyone Active gym and keep on top of their health and fitness regime.
“As we all know, good health has never been so important at this time, both mentally and physically and staying fit and healthy is critical in the fight against Covid.
“In light of this, we are hopeful that we can continue to operate in the new year. In fact, 23 percent of our yearly sales are made in the first six weeks of the year, so this is an especially key time for us as a business.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and will follow all Government guidance surrounding Covid should further restrictions be imposed.”
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