Continued closures a heavy weight to carry for Melbourne fitness and health industry

  Jun 9, 2021

Despite restrictions easing in regional Victoria almost a week ago and today’s announcements regarding the easing of some rules in metro Melbourne, gyms across greater metro Melbourne remain ordered shut, which is bringing business owners to their knees, according to Genesis Health + Fitness which has 14 clubs across the state, predominantly owned by individual franchisees.

“We’ve been speaking with Fitness Australia about this issue, and they are staging an event in regional Melbourne tomorrow to protest the situation there – but the latest announcements from the government today revealing that metro gyms will remain shut from tomorrow is another massive blow for our franchisees and thousands of other gyms and fitness studios in Victoria,” said the CEO of Genesis Health + Fitness, Ian Jensen-Muir.

“The revenue for these businesses drops to zero as soon as lockdowns are initiated, leaving staff without shifts, business owners with no income and members with no access to a service that is a critical part of their physical and mental health.

“We stand with others in the industry and demand answers from the government as to why gyms are being singled out as presenting a higher level of risk than other business operations including beauty and hospitality.

“Genesis Health + Fitness has implemented a very strict and robust COVIDSafe Plan across all sites as have other fitness facilities across the state and they are clearly working as there have been zero transmissions in gym settings.”

Ian also expressed concern that the State Government’s business support package was not going to cut it for the fitness and health industry.

“This support is based on a one-week timeframe for regional and two weeks for metro, but that’s not accounting for the additional weeks gyms are having to wait to re-open.

“A week for a small business can be the difference between surviving, or not.

“And for gyms, these subsidies don’t even cover the rent and business owners are still paying back the last lockdown’s deferred rental. We need to see some kind of rental assistance package while these forced closures continue.”

The Federal Government subsidy for employees presented similar problems and would likely not apply to gym staff in need.

“We fully support keeping the community safe – the whole nature of our business is focused on the health and wellbeing of our 27,000 members.

“However, allowing some services to open and not others without reasonable justification and not providing clear information and timeframes is crushing our industry here in Victoria and we want answers.”