THE last few months have broken new ground for the fitness industry..

Seasoned lifters have found themselves restricted to doing burpees in their bedroom while the entire UK appears to have taken up jogging in a bizarre reaction to the lockdown.

But, despite being forced to close for more than four months, some innovative gyms have found ways to keep their communities together at a time when physical distance is the order of the day.

One of these is Cycle City in Hove which, as the name suggests, provides a wide range of fitness classes largely centred around static bikes.

Bertie Wilkins, director of the Goldstone Villas site, said the gym had started to see a drop in attendances in the week leading up to the announcement of the lockdown on March 23 as concern about coronavirus spread.

With the health and safety of customers in mind, the site did not wait to be told by the Government to shut, closing on March 15.

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But, with its customers being the beating heart of the business, Bertie said it was important to keep the sense of community alive during the lockdown.

The 26-year-old said: “We started filming a lot of online content and had really good feedback. I think we have managed to make the best of a bad situation.

“One of our instructors has held 150 classes on Zoom – spin and yoga.

“Customers would buy her gifts and flowers to say thank you, but we didn’t charge at all for any of the stuff we put out.

“It was just about keeping people active and connected.

“The instructors have been great. They have done it off their own backs to keep people moving.

“People had built friendships (at the gym) so, for us, it was all about keeping that community together.

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“And now, when we reopen, we can come back just as strong as we were before.”

But the reopening process has not been straightforward.

With sudden Government updates and stringent new standards needing to be met before the doors can be unlocked, changes have had to be made to the gym.

And, while many were perplexed when pubs were given the green light to reopen before gyms, Bertie has taken something of a laissez-faire approach to the situation.

He said: “The communication has been a big thing. Just a little bit more would have been good, knowing what is happening every step of the way.

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“I’ve just had the attitude that ‘it is what it is’. If they open pubs first then that’s what they do.

“If decisions have been made, they must have been made for a reason. I’m just glad we have a date now.”

Boris Johnson revealed earlier this month that gyms, pools and leisure centres could reopen on Thursday.

But, as before, Bertie pre-empted the Prime Minister’s announcement. He said: “To be honest, at the start of June I decided ‘let’s get back to work as much as we can, let’s get everything prepared’.


"Due to the lack of communication, we thought we should be ready to make a move.

"So, when the announcement came, we were ready.”

When the site reopens this week, there will be contactless temperature checks for staff and customers and social distancing practices have been put in place, with floor markers to show people where to go.

High-grade disinfectants and cleaning products are used throughout the day, including on all touch points between classes, and protective screens have been introduced at the front desk, among other measures.