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Our statement on the Scottish First Minister's decision to delay gyms reopening

30th July 2020

We are extremely disappointed that the possible opening of gyms in Scotland has been delayed until September 14th. We know that the majority of our Scottish members (over 120,000 of them across 24 gyms!) are desperate to get back to their gyms to improve their physical and mental wellbeing and them, and the whole gym and fitness centre industry in Scotland will be as disappointed as we are. We have a vital role to play in the fight against obesity which is a public health challenge in Scotland and right across the UK. More broadly, it strikes us as truly extraordinary that, in the middle of a health crisis, the First Minister and her team have not ascribed any real priority to working with us and our sector to understand our capacity to help provide for the better health and wellbeing of the Scottish people at this time.

Her approach seems to be in direct contrast to other countries. For example, our gyms in Switzerland are in their 12th week of opening and in Denmark we are in our 7th week after opening. Across those countries, we have welcomed over 3 million visitors since reopening. We have been audited and visited by police and authorities in those countries on dozens of occasions and passed every test. As far as we know, there have been no incidents of transmission of infection in our facilities – and both Denmark and Switzerland have good “track and trace” systems and tracing Apps operating. Furthermore, we reopened gyms in Northern Ireland three weeks ago and in England this week and these reopenings have met with strong local support for the access to exercise and much consumer praise for the protocols, standards and safety processes that have been implemented.

In prior speeches, the First Minister has alluded to “evidence” that gyms are a problem and in her speech today she referenced “clinical advice” that gyms pose a “particular risk”. We acknowledge that there are problems, challenges and risks in all areas of society at the moment – and gyms have their own specific risks of course. That is precisely why we and the entire gym and fitness industry have invested huge effort and rigour in devising safety protocols and procedures that materially reduce the risk of viral transmission. These protocols are now allowing hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and across Europe to reap the mental and physical benefits of exercise without exposing themselves to undue risk. We urge the Scottish authorities to share openly relevant evidence and the cited clinical advice but above all to work with our sector to understand the approaches to risk mitigation which we have successfully implemented in other countries and which stand ready to benefit the people of Scotland.  

Our gyms at PureGym are, on average, the size of five or six doubles tennis courts and are exceptionally well ventilated, enabling people to work and exercise safely and securely. Through our existing electronic entry system, we know the names and details of every single member in our facilities at any moment so can exercise tight control over attendance. As well as being staffed at all opening times we also monitor behaviour inside the gyms on CCTV so we are well prepared to oversee and enforce social distancing.

We have developed detailed, industry-agreed guidance and are confident gyms are safe places to work and safe places to workout. The protocols which have been developed with the input of recognised medical experts cover all aspects of hygiene, disinfection, access control, physical separation, number limitations per venue, monitoring and oversight, education and training.

In summary, we urgently call on the First Minister to re-examine the current, factual evidence, engage with us and our industry bodies, and allow the Scottish people back into gyms as soon as possible so that we can support them in living happier and healthier lives.

Our statement on the government's decision not to reopen gyms

23rd June 2020 

We are extremely disappointed that the Prime Minister has decided not to include indoor gyms in his announcement today on easing of restrictions, which will prevent us at PureGym from providing access to gyms for our million plus members. This intense disappointment will be shared by our sector and the ten million gym members across the UK. 

We understand that these decisions are not easy, but it is a strange ‘war on obesity’ that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms. Our facilities are, on average, the size of five or six doubles tennis courts and are exceptionally well ventilated, enabling people to work and exercise safely and securely. Through our existing electronic entry system, we know the names and details of every single member in our facilities at any moment.

Detailed, industry-agreed guidance was submitted to the government on May 7th. The protocols we suggested – which had been developed with the input of recognised medical experts - covered all aspects of hygiene, disinfection, access control, physical separation, number limitations per venue, monitoring and oversight, education and training. We are confident we can provide a safe place for people to work and a safe place to workout having already opened our gyms in Switzerland and Denmark over the last 6 weeks. In those countries, we have welcomed over a million visitors since reopening, with protocols very similar to those we suggested for the UK. We have been audited and visited by police and authorities in those countries on over 60 occasions and passed every test and, as far as we know, there have been no incidents of transmission or infection.

Our sector provides truly vital support to the mental and physical well-being of the UK public and specifically in the fight against Covid-19. We are bitterly disappointed that the one sector that has the potential to help people and that has developed clearly workable protocols for safe operations is prevented from opening for a further undefined period. We urgently call on the Prime Minister to re-examine the evidence, engage with us and our industry bodies, and allow people back into gyms as soon as possible.


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ukactive's letter to the prime minister

Chair of our industry body ukactive, Tanni Grey-Thompson, has written to the Prime Minister seeking clarity on the decision to delay the reopening of gyms and leisure facilities, outlining the threats to community health during the COVID-19 crisis and calling for a clear timetable.

read here