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Why Your Gym Won’t Open During COVID-19!

June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
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The first COVID-19 case in Australia was identified on the 25th of Jan, 2020. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Coronavirus as a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ on the 30th of Jan, 2020. WHO then declared it a pandemic on the 11th of March, 2020.

Two weeks later, on the 23rd of March 2020, the unthinkable happened; gyms, studios, fitness centres, pools, health clubs, sports centres… pretty much every fitness-based facility was ordered to close… indefinitely!

Fast forward two and a half months of nothing but outdoor exercise and improvised home gym workouts to right about now and we are, THANKFULLY, seeing the slow return to normality in the Health and Fitness Industry.

But the real question is, when, how and why are some gyms going to open, while others remain shut and how is the ‘post COVID gym’ going to work?

Gym Reopening Schedules For Each Australian State


Gyms & Studios – Open since May 15th

Maximum session time of 2 hours


Gyms & Studios – Open since May 18th

Maximum of 20 persons per facility


Gyms & Studios – Open since 1st June

Maximum of 20 persons per ‘room’

Maximum of 80 persons per facility (requiring 4 ‘rooms’)

Class sizes capped at  10 persons


Gyms & Studios – Currently Closed

Proposed to reopen as of 13th June

Maximum of 100 persons per facility

Class sizes capped at 10 persons


Gyms & Studios – Currently Closed

Proposed to reopen as of 13th June

Maximum of 100 persons per facility

Class sizes capped at 10 persons


Gyms & Studios – Currently Closed

Proposed to reopen as of 13th June

Maximum of 100 persons per facility

Class sizes capped at 10 persons


Gyms & Studios – Currently Closed

Proposed to reopen as of 15th June

No confirmation on capacity guidelines


Gyms & Studios – Currently Closed

Proposed to reopen as of 22nd June

Maximum of 20 persons per facility

Will Every Gym & Studio Open As Soon As The State Allows?

No, absolutely not. Just because a business is allowed to reopen does not mean the owner can simply flick the light switch the next morning and resume business as it was ‘pre-COVID’. There is a long list of requirements they must ensure they address before they can even consider opening AND THEN there’s the financial side of things.

How Will The ‘Post-COVID’ Gym Look?

Let’s use South Australia as the example here as they are the most recent to open and have also provided some of the more in-depth guidelines and requirements.

Commercial Gym Post-COVID (in SA):

The blanket ruling of 4 square metres per person still applies as the foundation of maximum capacity in a gym. Should the gym be big enough to abide by the 4sqm p/person, they are still capped at only allowed to have 20 gym members on the floor in a ‘room’ + gym staff/trainers. If the gym has multiple ‘rooms’ and the required space they are allowed to have up to a maximum of 80 members in the facility + staff/trainers but they need to have 4 ‘rooms’ each able to hold 20 members.

More than likely, your typical gym will only have one ‘room’ and therefore only allowed 20 members + staff/trainers. Because of this, we have already seen gyms introducing systems and apps for members to book training sessions to ensure no more than 20 members are allowed access to the gym. For the typical gym-goer who goes for a session whenever they feel like it, this is going to be a BIG change! Let alone being restricted to 60 minutes of training from the moment you walk in, to the moment they ask you to leave.

Not to forget they are required to keep all equipment 1.5 metres apart from each other to allow members to maintain their 4sqm safety bubble. Some gyms won’t physically have the space to move their equipment apart enough to meet that requirement. Then you add on the extra sanitisation & cleaning, gym staff, members and professional cleaners will be required to perform to ensure the surfaces stay hygienic for each and every member of the gym.

Studios / Classes Post-COVID (in SA):

This is where things get even more challenging. If you are running a class of any type; whether it be functional fitness, CrossFit, aerobics, dance, pole dancing, spin class, etc you can only have 10 members per class + trainers/coaches. If the studio runs multiple classes at once, in an open space, that space would be capped at 20 members/ 2 classes running at the same time (assuming they have the required 4sqm per person of space).

Why Would A Gym Or Studio NOT Open?

Pretend you own a gym. It’s 6 pm on a weekday and in the gym, there might be 50-60 people there, and over the 2 hours between 5 – 7 pm there would be anywhere from 150-200 members that would come through your gym for a session.

Now you’re being told you can only have 20 people in your gym. Then to be fair you will have to implement a booking system to allow members to book in for, let’s say a 1-hour session. You can now only allow 20 of your members to train each hour.

That 2 hour period (peak time) you would normally be able to provide gym facilities for 200 of your members has just gone down to 40 members. Oh, and the same goes for the morning peak time between 6 – 8 am for those who train before their 9 – 5 workday. So now the 400 people you would see come through your two busiest times of the day has gone down to 80 people, 40 between 6 – 8 am and 40 between 5 – 7 pm.

What About My Gym Membership?

We then have the issue of memberships, 99% of gyms put ALL memberships on hold as soon as they closed in March, which is great! While some then allowed you to join on ‘virtual memberships’ with them providing online at home workouts others just tried to provide free content to keep members motivated.

The issue of memberships creates more questions…

Now the studio is open, under the new restrictions, will your membership then resume having payments debited regularly?

Is it fair for you to start paying your membership fees again when you cannot access the gym as you did when you signed up?

What if you cannot book in for a 1-hour session because that block is already booked up?

Will my gym start charging for casuals sessions instead of my weekly membership?

…as you can see, it’s a really complicated situation. And while we all want the gyms to open AS SOON AS POSSIBLE the reality is that for most gyms and studios it really isn’t a smart business option to open with these restrictions in place.

While you may think some income is better than none, most gyms will still require the same number of staff to run a gym floor with 20 members as they would for 50 or even 100 members. Let alone the cost of turning on the lights, TV’s, music, air conditioning and all of that also remain the same whether it’s got 20 members in a gym or 100 members.

So here we are hoping that everyone continues to follow the rules, acts smart and we can see more relaxing of the restrictions in the near future.

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