Study: Gyms open again but Covid restrictions keeping users away

Gyms have been allowed to reopen in the Czech Republic following an improvement in Covid-19 numbers. However, almost three-quarters of the country’s fitness centre operators say that strict hygiene conditions are deterring clients from returning.

In a survey of over 250 gyms just carried out by the Czech Chamber of Fitness, an industry umbrella body, 41 percent of operators said the onus on clients to offer proof that they are Covid-free was a deterrent.

Some 31 of the organisation’s members said a ban on using changing rooms and showers at gyms was causing users to stay away. Limits on capacity are also keeping people from returning, said just over a fifth of operators.

Fitness centre operators point to the fact that people were unable to use their facilities for a long time. In the interim, some have become lazy while others have purchased their own gym equipment or started doing outdoor sports.

What’s more, the timing of the change has not been ideal, with attendance at gyms usually lower at this time of year. On top of June to September normally being a quiet period, many of those returning have already purchased gym passes, meaning there is no immediate income for operators.

The Czech Chamber of Fitness says that in this regard the abolition of compensation for the month of June was an unfair move on the part of the government. Its members expect to achieve no more than a third of usual takings in June, meaning they cannot cover their overheads. Some say they will wait until the end of the year to reassess whether to keep their businesses going.

Another problem facing many gyms is a shortage of staff. Some 15 percent of operators are facing major problems maintaining their teams, with 42 percent saying some of their people have not returned.

The government gave the green light for the public to return to indoor sports facilities from May 17. A condition for this was a maximum of one person per 15 square meters and a maximum of 10 in total.

According to the survey, 64 percent of fitness centres welcomed clients back on that date.

On Monday maximum attendance was increased to 30 people and on that day another 29 percent of gyms resumed operations.

Prior to this easing, indoor sports facilities were among those businesses forced to pull down the shutters for longest, with the government having banned attendance at them back in mid-December. Previously they had been closed from early October to early December.