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Newbury gyms get the green light to reopen from this Saturday

Leisure centres also set for a phased reopening

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby


01635 886637

Newbury gyms get the green light to reopen from this Saturday

DUST off the dumbbells and brush the barbells because Newbury gyms are opening again.

In an announcement on July 9, culture secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed that from this Saturday, gyms will be able to reopen to the public.

Newbury-based personal trainers Abstract Bodyworks, which was set up by Stephen McKinnon and his wife Pat in 2013, is one such gym, although its business model differs from regular gyms in that clients receive one-to-one training.

Mr McKinnon said that it was “about time” that gyms were allowed to open, voicing his frustration that the Government hadn’t allowed it sooner.

He said: “It’s hard to understand the Government’s logic – they have a one-size-fits-all, sweaty-bodies-in-confined-spaces view of gyms.

“All gyms have been absolutely scrupulous in defining new procedures and Abstract Bodyworks in particular because it’s a one-on-one training facility – we didn’t have as many problems in the first place.

“If you think of more in terms of a chiropractor, they’ve been open the whole time.

“I’m not complaining, it’s just about time.”

Mr McKinnon said that although its model gave it a head start in keeping their clientele safe, Abstract Bodyworks still had to introduce new measures to guard against Covid-19.

He said: “It’s one-on-one training on a scheduled appointment, so previously we used to allow our clients to turn up and sit in a waiting room for us to be ready.

“Now we’ve changed that so doors will be locked, so when you arrive if we’re not ready you can’t come in.

“We’re also mandating that everyone washes their hands before they start working out.

“After each client goes, we will do a thorough clean down of all the machines they’ve used, so every client gets a brand new space.

“We’ve always been health conscious and our facility lends itself very easily to being a very safe environment.”

The council’s leisure centres are also set to reopen – Downlands Sports Centre aside, which will remain closed – however not all facilities and activities will return just yet.

The leisure centres, which are run by Legacy Leisure, are taking a phased approach in returning to business, with just gyms and studio programmes restarting from Saturday.

To safely limit the number of people in the gyms and group exercise classes, everyone is asked to book in advance.

The next phase begins on August 17, when sports halls and squash courts will reopen.

While not all activities will be permitted within the sports hall at this time, there will be a number which can return, such as badminton.

A full list of activities which can return will be published closer to the time.

The final phase will involve the reopening of the leisure centres’ swimming pools, which should take place around early to mid-September.

This will allow controlled sessions such as club swimming, swimming lessons and school swimming, while there will also be an increase in the number of activities which can take place within the sports halls.

For more information on booking and the safeguards in place at the leisure centres, visit

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Article comments

  • Bored of registering

    24/07/2020 - 13:23

    Could you maybe do some investigative journalism to understand the reasons for the local authority not opening their indoor pools? We have heard the excuses for the Lido not opening (by the way, its the same excuse every year for opening late! another story) is it down to profit? more people in Gym membership, even if they don't come they get paid, however swimming is most likely a loss-maker for the LA, however a vital community asset.