GYM members can’t understand it and gym operators say there’s no data to support it but the ban on indoor exercise at gyms stays in place.

That’s the word today, Friday, September 18, from the Premier Daniel Andrews who said during his daily coronavirus update that there was ample evidence from overseas that venues hosting indoor exercise were a risk.

The ban therefore stays in place, at this stage, in both metro and regional areas, until November 23, although there may be slim hopes of an earlier opening via a meeting between Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish and Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng next week. Fingers crossed.

It’s tough, according to Voyage Fitness gym operator, Jake Wright, who runs gyms in Wonthaggi and Leongatha.

He’s challenged the Premier on the data and the science.

“We had 7 million users go back to using gyms in those two months after the first lockdown and there was not one case, not one of community transmission,” said Jake this week.

“If the sector came up like aged care, you’d put up your hands and say yes, for sure. We wouldn’t have a problem with that.

“But where’s the data. They don’t have a number.”

Mr Wright said the gym environment was in fact an extremely hygienic one where both operators and members were very aware of their responsibilities.

“It’s not like restaurants and cafés where you just write down your name, we know exactly when people attend and when they leave and we know them and all their contact details.

“It’s a completely different situation.”

However, Premier Daniel Andrews is firm in his views on indoor gym activity.

“Obviously they are almost always in an indoor environment, that’s why if they can move their activities outside as they have done in regional Victoria, they are allowed to do that under the steps that have been outlined. There are no changes to the steps that have been outlined, Mr Andrews said.

“I’ll come back to you with the exact wording to avoid confusion to the extent that there has been confusion.

“We have had many, many discussions, not just in terms of some of the experiences in our country but some of the overseas’ experience.

“And when you think about it, it makes sense, it’s indoor, people are obviously very active, they’re using all sorts of different equipment, they’re exerting themselves, they are expressing, there is a lot of airflow…”

Mr Andrews was pressed to explain.

“Has there been an outbreak or an example that you can draw on? Asked a reporter.

“I’d have to come back to you around any specific cases but the volume of evidence around the world is very, very clear and the nature of exercise is pretty well universal. That’s why it is regarded as a high-risk environment.”

He said shared equipment outdoors was one thing.

“But what you can’t do is filter the air when you’ve got multiple people in the room. Being outside is a very different matter, a much lower risk situation.”

Dark side of no exercise

But Jake Wright of Voyage Fitness believes there’s a dark side of stopping people from attending their usual exercise.

“Exercise has a tremendously beneficial effect both physically and mentally, we know that, not only boosting your immune system and keeping you fit, healthy and active but it also relieves stress and depression.”

Mr Wright said there was an important mental health aspect to exercise, and he was aware of people who were struggling in that regard.

He said he also had concern about the rising incidence of family violence, not specifically locally, but in the general community.

“There’s been no attempt to take account of that. It’s pretty silly what they’ve done.”

But Jake says the business will survive and members were very keen to resume.

“We’ve been running our free live classes online. That’s free for anyone.

“And we’re starting our outdoor bootcamps, three to four times-a-day for up to 10 members, from Monday.

“They don’t count under 18s as a number. Figure that out.

“All the information on times etc is on our Facebook page.”

Jake’s other concern is the amount of money going out to prop up business.

“We’ve been smashed and don’t get me wrong, we’ve needed the Job Keeper and business subsidies they’ve provided, plus we’re not paying much tax but how long can that go on. It’s going to cost the community a fortune.

“The sooner we get back the better, and if it comes sooner than November 23, so much the better.”

What step 3 means for exercise

* Outdoor non-contact sport can resume for adults.

* Outdoor sport (contact and non-contact) can resume for people aged 18 and under.

* You can exercise or do sporting activities outside with the people you live with or up to ten people (including yourself). You must be able to keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.

* Groups of up to ten people, plus the instructor or trainer can take classes and do personal training outdoors.

* Outdoor skateparks will reopen. Indoor skateparks will remain closed.

* Outdoor swimming pools can open for up to 50 people or the number allowed when the ‘four square metre rule’ is applied.

Can I play golf?

* Yes. Golf courses and outdoor driving ranges in regional Victoria can open. You can play golf with members of your household or in a group of up to 10 people. Golf carts may be used, but course operators are required to thoroughly clean the carts in between each use. People playing together must be able to keep at least 1.5 metres distance apart.

(If you are not doing exercise or a physical activity where you are out of breath or puffing, then you must wear a face covering, unless you have a lawful reason not to. You must carry a face covering with you and wear it before and after you exercise).

Indoor facilities (except for communal changing facilities and toilets) cannot open. Other indoor areas must be restricted to the public. You must clean and disinfect equipment between users. Where possible you should minimise the sharing of equipment.

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne, you cannot play golf.

Is outdoor communal gym equipment open?

Yes. The use of communal outdoor exercise equipment is allowed. While using outdoor gym equipment you should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others. Wash your hands when you get home.

Can I go to the beach?

Yes. You can go to the beach with the people you live with or in a group of up to ten people. Babies under 12 months of age are not included in the ten-person limit. You can swim or surf at the beach.

You can travel to a beach in regional Victoria. You cannot visit a beach in metropolitan Melbourne.

Can I participate in recreational activities like fishing?

Yes. You can leave home for permitted exercise and recreation activities that are outdoors and can be done by yourself, members of your household, or in a group of up to ten people.

This includes, fishing, hunting, boating, surfing, and recreational diving. There are no limits on the distance you can travel to exercise in regional Victoria. You cannot travel to metropolitan Melbourne for recreational activities.

You must be able to maintain a 1.5 metre distance from others. Where possible you should minimise the sharing of equipment. You must clean and disinfect shared equipment between users.