Peel gym owners prepare for January 31 vaccine mandates

PREPARATIONS: Gyms and fitness centres in the Peel region are preparing for the vaccine mandates which will come in on January 31. Photo: Danielle Cerullo via Unsplash.
PREPARATIONS: Gyms and fitness centres in the Peel region are preparing for the vaccine mandates which will come in on January 31. Photo: Danielle Cerullo via Unsplash.

With widespread vaccine mandates set to take place from January 31 in Western Australia, the health and wellness industry has had to adapt.

The Mail reached out to a number of Peel gyms both independent and franchised to see how requirements of proof of vaccination would impact them in the coming months, and how they will implement the new rules.

Fighter Fit Boxing Gym owner Danny Heyes had one of his biggest years to date in 2021, with a number of members bringing home titles, securing an expansion that will double the size of the gym and breaking a world record.

With the mandate date approaching, Heyes said his gym would, for the most part, be able to run like normal.

"It shouldn't really affect us too much, all of our members bar a couple are vaccinated and that's their choice."

He said that while he supported the rights of members to make their own choices, the mandates would mean those who opted not to get vaccinated couldn't come into the gym until they were lifted.

"I get on really well with them and have had a talk with them about it.

"My wife Kelly and I are fully vaccinated. Quite a few have had their first jab and will be able to return once they've had their second."

Heyes said the issue he was most concerned about was COVID spreading and impacting their ability to work, which is why it was important to him that he and his trainers were vaccinated.

STRENGTH: Danny Heyes says his boxing gym will not be harshly impacted by the new mandates. Photo: Fighter Fit Boxing Gym.

STRENGTH: Danny Heyes says his boxing gym will not be harshly impacted by the new mandates. Photo: Fighter Fit Boxing Gym.

"A few of our mates have gyms over east and have had to shut down for a while because their coaches caught COVID. One are a husband and wife team like us and they're having to close the whole gym until they test negative.

"We're very lucky - we only had to shut down for three days last year and everything else was business as normal."

Anytime Fitness Falcon will be giving members the opportunity to freeze their memberships in the hopes that the mandates would eventually be relaxed when the situation was under control, as was the case in other states.

"We've got our workouts app which gives members access from home to over 1,100 workouts," Falcon franchise owner Tania Parsons said.

"All members have access to those workouts if they want to work out at home or take their workout to a park or the beach."

Steve Thompson is the co-founder of Feel Good Fitness WA, which is a gym specifically designed for introducing complete beginners to exercise.

He said, similarly to Heyes, that 90-95 per cent of his members were vaccinated, but they had created an option for both unvaccinated and COVID positive clients.

"For members we are currently starting up a whole new business doing mobile personal training for people while the mandates are in place," Thompson said.

OPTIONS: Steve Thompson from Feel Good Fitness says the gym has devised other plans for those who are unvaccinated or who catch COVID. Photo: Feel Good Fitness WA.

OPTIONS: Steve Thompson from Feel Good Fitness says the gym has devised other plans for those who are unvaccinated or who catch COVID. Photo: Feel Good Fitness WA.

He added that now, more than ever, was an important time to focus on health and wellbeing.

"Health is wealth. We are appealing to beginners and sometimes it's easy for beginners to go off track so we've really thought through it.

"We've got isolation pack options for members who do have COVID, which have non-sweat options and videos to go through."

Thompson saw a similar trend in gyms over east, with fitness businesses struggling to maintain enough trainers during case surges.

"I have talked to people on the ground in Sydney and Melbourne and it has been this logistical problem when there were an abundance of cases. It was hard to keep enough trainers on the floor to run classes.

"It's really important to have things in place in those situations."

Daniel Tancock, owner of Florida Beach Fitness, said the mandate would impact six clients and two prospective clients who were due to start with the gym in the new year.

"We have 130 active clients, so it's a small number, but they are very valued so it's a loss to our gym community."

Tancock said the gym had started buying equipment for clients to use in their at-home workouts.

"Our commitment to improving and maintaining health and fitness doesn't change with the mandate. In fact, I believe they need us now more than ever due to the mental benefits of regular exercise - something that will be even more important as things escalate with COVID in WA."

Florida Beach Fitness will offer online zoom training sessions and is looking into beginning outdoor sessions away from the premises for those who do group training.

Vaccine mandates will be in place from January 31 and anyone wishing to enter a gym will need to provide proof of double vaccination.