Ayrshire personal trainer wants gyms to reopen early and says ‘having a burger isn’t essential’ – Daily Record

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A Kilwinning gym owner is backing one MSP’s call to reopen gyms three weeks earlier than planned.

Chris McMahon, owner of Energyze Personal Training, is supporting MSP Jamie Greene’s pleas to reopen gyms on April 4 instead of the planned April 26 reopening date.

The Tory MSP believes the earlier date is now a realistic time for reopening because of the declining prevalence of the virus and the health benefits that exercise provides.

Chris opened his dream personal training studio with wife Jacqui last summer when lockdown restrictions eased.

But when the government shut down ‘non-essential’ businesses from Boxing Day 2020 Chris and his wife were at a loss and unable to receive any financial grant as they were open less than one year.

Chris, a former bodybuilding competitor, spoke about the damage the lockdown has inflicted on his family’s livelihood.

He said: “It would be a godsend if the gyms were open at the start of April.

“Costa Coffee, kebab shops and McDonalds have all stayed opened but scientists have found a direct link between Covid deaths and obesity.

“But they’ve shut the gyms and kept open fast-food takeaways. It makes zero sense.

“It’s hard to take, having a coffee or a burger isn’t essential. Gyms across the country would be able to follow simple safety measures in order to reopen and keep their clients safe.

During the tiered lockdown stages, Chris and Jacqui adhered to strict safety measures. Only limited numbers were permitted in the spacious studio per-hourly block, each client was given their own spray bottle of disinfectant and cloth to wipe down equipment and regular deep cleans were carried out throughout the day.

But their carefully laid plans were dashed in December when it was announced they would be forced to close their doors from Boxing day for three weeks.

“We’ve been shut for three months and we’re operating at a 100 percent loss. We still have to pay rent and don’t qualify for any government grants because we have been opened less than a year,” Chris added.

Chris was unhappy with the government’s compromise to allow outdoor exercise during the winter months.

He added: “Especially with it being winter and the dark nights; I’m not comfortable with my wife or clients walking around in the pitch dark, freezing cold or snow.

“It’s not safe and it’s not like we live somewhere like Australia where you can exercise outside and be warm.”

Chris believes staying active helps his clients with their mental health too.

He said: “A lot of clients use personal training to boost their mental health and confidence.

“I have clients with depression or who have suffered from eating disorders and working out seems to help them and now, that’s just been taken away. There is no sense to it when we can operate safely.”

Commenting, West Scotland MSP Jamie Greene, is confident gyms can reopen earlier than scheduled.

He said: “The huge success of Scotland and the UK’s vaccine scheme has brought the virus back under control and we should now look to safely start on the road back to normality.

“Whilst I would like to see schools return from next week, there is also a strong argument for reopening gyms far sooner as well.

“Given how important exercise is for mental and physical health, the safe reopening of gyms should also be a priority of the Scottish Government.

“By the start of April, the vaccine will have been even more widely distributed across North Ayrshire and gyms will have had time to prepare for once again welcoming their customers.”

And Chris fears for the future if the gyms continue to stay closed.

He added: “We’ll just have to keep struggling and try and stay afloat. I could go stand in the rain and hope people show up for bootcamp style classes but it’s just not realistic.

“The double standards during this lockdown have been really frustrating; how a kebab shop can stay open but the gym can’t.

“I could understand if it was essential businesses only that were allowed to stay open but a kebab and a Costa Coffee are not essential to anybody.

“Let the businesses reopen and trust that adults can make safe and sensible decisions.

“I’m not a Tory voter but I completely support and agree with Jamie on this and hope we can reopen as soon as possible.”

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