With nearly 14 million Australians now living under some form of lockdown, Fitness Australia is calling on the Federal government to widen their financial support and bring back JobKeeper before the fitness industry is decimated and the prolonged closures have a devastating impact on the mental and physical health of many more Australians.

Fitness Australia CEO said the uncertainty of the “on and off again” lockdowns was demoralising members and putting more businesses at risk of permanent closure.

“We now have the best part of three states under lockdown, meaning thousands of fitness businesses, employees and personal trainers are in limbo. From a business perspective, how do you budget and plan for these on and off again lockdowns?” Mr Elvish said.

“The financial pressure our members are under by still having to pay ongoing fixed costs like rent, utilities, equipment rentals and other business costs  without income while still having to provide for their families and put food on the table, is a devastating burden.

“If state governments are adamant about snap lockdowns being the best way to control outbreaks, then the federal government needs to step in and reinstate JobKeeper for when these shutdowns happen.”

Mr Elvish said on average many fitness businesses estimated six to twelve months to get fully back on track after last year’s lockdown, but that was now thrown out the window with ongoing and unplanned lockdowns.

“The uncertainly is very disheartening and our industry is potentially going to lose a large portion of its workforce that will result in the closure of businesses and facilities where people can exercise safely under the guidance of a professional,” Mr Elvish said.

“The irony of the situation is politicians and health officials are praising the benefits of people exercising while at the same time causing the closure of exercise infrastructure through their decisions is devastating.”

For Sydney business owner, Phil Bagnall, who co-owns the Anytime Fitness studios in Miranda, Caringbah and Cronulla the current lockdown is costing him $15,000 a week in operating costs alone as there is currently no government-mandated relief.

“We are resilient but how resilient can you be when there is constant uncertainty, constant closures and constant bills to pay without any income coming in the door? It’s just disheartening, and I feel for every business owner who has had to close their doors once again,” Mr Bagnall said.

“What compounds our frustration is the continuous messaging that gyms are high risk. People who go to a gym know how fastidious we are about cleaning and keeping the environment safe and hygienic for everyone.

“All levels of government continue to say how important exercise is but at the same time they are tearing us down with crazy comments. When was the last time a government official actually visited a gym to see how we operate and how safe we actually are?”

Mr Elvish said recent comments by the NSW Premier about no cases of transmission in outdoor exercise should pave the way for more outdoor group training to be allowed.

“Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly said NSW authorities have not found any cases of transmission during outdoor exercise. When then can we start to increase the ability to have more outdoor training such as bootcamps or outdoor classes with social distancing in place?” Mr Elvish said.

“The construction industry has now been given a firm date to resume work, why can’t the same be done for businesses and personal training whose sole purpose is to help the community stay health and active?”

Last year Fitness Australia released its Impact of Extending the JobKeeper Payment for the Fitness Industry Report highlighting the critical role JobKeeper played in supporting an industry that’s designed to support Australians. The Report found:

Gyms, clubs and studios 

  • 93.4% of are relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat and keep people employed through this unprecedented time
  • 95.9% of have seen more than 20% decrease in revenue as a result of COVID-19
  • 72.9% of all those surveyed reported more than 40% decrease in revenue
  • 76.6% have lost more than 30% of their members.

Sole Traders, personal trainers and fitness professionals 

  • 82.5% are relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat and keep people employed through this unprecedented time
  • 90.5% of respondents have seen more than 20% decrease in revenue as a result of COVID-19
  • 78.1% of all those surveyed reported more than 40% decrease in revenue
  • 89.49% have lost more than 30% of their clients
  • 71.39% have lost more than 50% of their clients.

Mr Elvish said a reinstatement of JobKeeper will support a stronger Australia, fiscally, mentally and physically.

“Supporting Australia’s fitness industry by re-starting JobKeeper will ensure the sector can continue to be a key employer to support thousands of Australians with jobs; while supporting the broader population with improved physical and mental health outcomes,” Mr Elvish said.