The Gym group was growing rapidly as the lockdown approached, having opened 20 locations in 2019.
Its 24/7 contract-free gyms are a hit with time-pressed workers and students, and it has 184 locations across the country.
But all of that has slowed down as the pandemic hits and, if they stay closed until March, its gyms will be closed for eight out of 12 months.
“It will have been eight months where we have effectively had no income,” said Managing Director Richard Darwin.
“Very early on, we realized we couldn’t charge our members while our gyms were closed. So it had a significant impact on business.
Staff were laid off while the Gym Group also raised new equity and debt to help them see through.
Mr Darwin said during breaks between lockouts, gyms open safely with social distancing and strict cleaning protocols.
They should be allowed to do it again as soon as possible, he argued.
“It’s clear the schools will be first, and I think that’s absolutely right, but we’d love to be next on the list.
“The case is twofold: the benefits of physical activity in terms of mental well-being and physical health in general are very clear.
“In a survey, 86% of our members said there was an impact [of lockdown] on their well-being and 91% said their physical condition had been affected.
“And second, when we were open, we were able to demonstrate that we could operate safely.”
Extending corporate rate relief, along with VAT cuts, would also help the industry get back on its feet.
“The industry needs some visibility on when it can reopen and what additional support will come,” Mr. Darwin said.
Prof Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter
Never has a classroom full of students been so necessary. This cruel pandemic has already cost far too many lives. But we cannot let that mark a whole generation. Losses in learning and well-being increase with each additional day of school missed. Our children have suffered enough.
In those dark times, all of our hearts would be lit by that instantly recognizable sound of young chattering voices resounding again over full playgrounds. This may not be the end of our troubles, or even the beginning of the end. But as the Prime Minister’s hero Winston Churchill once said, maybe that will signal the end of the beginning.
Churchillian rhetoric is overused. But these words, spoken after the first victorious battle of World War II, are quite appropriate. We are facing the biggest education crisis in 100 years. It is a fight for our future.
The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the divisions between the education haves and haves. Our research shows that students in private schools were twice as likely as students in public schools to benefit from full days of online lessons during school closures during the first lockdown. A quarter of the students received no education.
Even before this current lockdown, we estimated that some students had lost half a year of learning. Some kids just don’t have the quiet study space, computers and support that others have, let alone the luxury of private tutors. We estimate a sharp drop in future levels of social mobility.
School, of course, is more than just a matter of academic progress; it’s about socializing with your friends and classmates, sharing these formative life experiences. Our surveys show an increase in anxiety levels among young people who feel increasingly isolated.
The urgent priority must be the reopening of schools for all students. Nothing in education is more important or more impactful than a highly effective teacher in front of a class of engaged students.
During the Great American Depression, that other great warlord, Franklin D. Roosevelt, inspired huge, multi-year national efforts to improve society.
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have a lot,” said the then president in 1937. “It is whether we are providing enough. for those who have too little. “
As we begin our journey towards recovery from this terrible pandemic, reopening schools as soon as possible is the test we cannot afford to fail.
Donna Pierpoint, registered manager of Sheffield’s only senior charitable care center, The Broomgrove Trust