As a gym owner, I am very concerned about the fact that our gyms and other fitness facilities have not been able to open since April of this year.
We have liaised with all the gym owners of all the major facilities and they have all followed all the COVID-9 protocols as mandated by the Ministry of Health and still they have been denied.
Full sanitation by the approved COVID-19 facilitators, signage, online COVID-19 certifications, sanitation stations, front desk client temp checks, questionnaire and mask requirements, social distancing, equipment spacing, open floor views enabling the staff to observe all members and police the protocols, limited clients based on square footage of the facility or hourly appointments, open air studios and the list goes on.
Each gym facility is different, each focusing on a specific market or clientele and providing the landscape, programs, equipment and trainers required to successfully cater to the members.
We currently not only have pro athletes, but we have athletes who are regional title holders, national team athletes, athletes on college scholarships and seasoned upcoming athletes preparing for the 2021 season and these include athletes from all the various sports, not just bodybuilding and fitness.
In addition, the gym closures also deny the people who need specialized wellness programs from advancing in their exercise prescriptions; people who have diabetes, hypertension, obesity, some kind of physical limitation or disability or need pre or post operational therapy.
These individuals cannot run the beach, go to the 66 Steps or walk the streets. They need the specialized equipment and qualified trainers that the gyms provide. Not to mention the fact that the gym atmosphere also provides an avenue for people who have anxiety, additive, depression or stress-related issues.
The gyms have catered to government officials, members of the uniformed services, civil servants, bankers and individuals across our society, who all at this time are being denied their right to gym exercise.
We currently have about 10 major gyms on New Providence and about five on Grand Bahama.
To date, according to the Ministry of Health reports, no COVID-19 positive cases have been traced back to a gym, nor a gym member, trainer or owner.
In addition, we see the newspaper articles highlighting the fact that obesity has risen during the COVID-19 lockdowns, many of the COVID-19 victims were in poor health and had preexisting conditions as a result of poor fitness lifestyles and the fact that the most susceptible individuals to COVID-19 are those with weakened immune systems and poor fitness lifestyles; yet the gyms and personnel that can help to correct these national concerns and be proactive in the healing and preventative health of the Bahamian people have been forced to close — first ones to close and the last to open.
The Bahamas is one the of this region’s leaders in many of the various sporting disciplines and as gym owners we need to be able to support all of our national teams and athletes, especially those who still need to prepare for events this year.
We have sent letters and made calls to the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of Attorney General, minister of sports, minister of health, deputy prime minister and Ministry of Health advisors requesting a meeting, gym inspections or viewing, or some consideration from April 2020 and to date we have had no response, no acknowledgement, no return calls, absolutely nothing.
Apart from the athletes and clients suffering, the rent, utilities and maintenance bills have not stopped, employees cannot be paid and their families are affected and gym owners have not been given any type of stimulus package for financial assistance, hence many may have to close their doors for good.
At this juncture, whereas businesses that pose a much higher risk in terms of crowding, lack of sanitation or COVID-19 protocol monitoring, closeness of one-on-one services and have no benefits of improving health have been allowed to open, we ask why in spite of all the efforts made have our gyms still been denied opening.
Our plea is in no way political or intended to undermine our leaders or those in authority.
When decisions are being made that affect various businesses and industries, key people from those areas should be invited to meet and advise the leaders on how best things can be done.
Understand that these businesses are our life savings investments and the health of a nation is the wealth of a nation and not only do gyms play a vital part in this equation, but the gym owners contribute to the local economy and our athletes have taken The Bahamas to the world.
No marches, motorcades, blocking Parliament or protest. We have followed all instructions, complied with the protocols, respected our leaders but the question is, is anyone out there listening or caring about us?
— Gym owner