BBC East Midlands recently visited Castle Gym upon reopening to talk to our staff and members about how it has felt being back.
Opening statement from BBC East Midlands reporter:
“It is a big day in England, it’s the next stage of the unlocking. You may well have already seen the pictures on your tv screens of queues outside shops as non-essential shops reopen once again. We’re expecting pubs and hospitality to be very busy later on in the day, they’re talking about a lot of bookings being taken. You can go there outdoors providing you’re sticking to the rule of six or two households.
Some things are opening up indoors again. Leisure centres and pools are opening up today, and also gyms like this one, this is the Castle Gym in Nottingham. It’s been waiting a very long time to reopen.”
Interviewing owner, Luke Willmott:
Q: How soon did you open up this morning?
A: 6 am this morning. They were already waiting at the door, the whole of Nottingham and the whole of the country have been eager, trying to get back. Everyone’s been trying to get back into the gyms, everyone has missed them and they’re not going to look back and definitely not going to take it for granted again.
It’s been a tough few months, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes, the team’s been amazing. What we’ve tried to do is to bring back the best, safest facility we can, so when people are coming flocking in they know they can do so and can do so safely, and we’ve tried to make it the best place we can.
Q: It’s been a very up and down year, being able to open, not being able to open, not knowing what the rules are. How difficult has it been for you?
A: Who can get a grasp of the rules? They change them that quickly. We’ve got to interpret them as best we can, we try to use our common sense. People who are coming to train they’re not out drinking, they’re here for a reason. They’re keeping their distance, they’re using the sanitiser, they know they have to treat the facility right for us to stay open!
Q: How hard have you had to work to make it feel safe to you and to everyone else?
A: We’ve had to put some new ventilation in to make sure the air flow’s in. We’re keeping the capacity down to what we’re allowed. And we’re just asking members to use their common sense and keep their distance. We’re lucky here that we’ve got enough space, we’ve got loads of rooms and plenty of kits. We’ve been able to put things apart, I don’t think we’re going to have any problems.
Q: Talk us through as a member, you have a card swipe here. How do you know who’s in here for contact tracing?
A: We run our membership system live, when they check in it gives us an exact figure for live numbers at any time, so if we are reaching capacity we can start advising. People aren’t messing about, they’re coming in, getting their workouts done, then they’re heading off.
Q: Obviously in the gym, there’s a lot of surfaces, people touch everything, you’ve made some changes, can you take us through them?
A: We’ve got loads of sanitiser in, this stuff is amazing, other places are using wipes on machines, but with the aerosol sanitiser they don’t have to touch anything, they just spray and it’s good. It’s a bit of a lifesaver, we’ve got tonnes of it. We’re saying to members use as much of it as you want it’s completely free, we’re providing it as a service. That’s why people are here and using our facility because they know we’re safe.
Q: How does it work with face masks?
A: Well you’ve got to think, health and wellbeing while you’re training, the last thing you want to do is hinder your breathing. When you’re working out that’s something you don’t want to have to do, you don’t want to wear a mask. When you’re travelling and coming into the facility you do, but whilst training they don’t have to wear a mask. I think that’s the right way to be. You can’t work out and wear a mask, it’s just counterproductive.
Q: Do you feel like you’re part of the solution?
A: Definitely, 100% we’re part of the solution, we’re actually helping health and wellbeing, it’s a part of what’s helping fight coronavirus. It’s not just the physical health, it’s the mental health as well, people who have been isolated due to the pandemic are here. Let’s get back to the gyms, they’re definitely part of the solution. We’re just happy to be open now.
Talking to members of Castle Gym:
Q: I can see you’re working hard, are you pleased to be back:
A: Anton: I am yeah. I did actually train through the lockdown. I built a gym in my back garden so I was using that to keep me sane. But now I’m back. It’s a wonderful feeling. Gyms are overlooked in the aspect that it’s not just sociability, it’s to workout, it does a lot for your mental health overall.
A: Lorna: Really pleased. Fitness is part of my job so coming back to the gym’s been great. It’s not the same working out at home. Obviously, you can do what you can, but not all of us have the facilities as Anton does. Having a gym in his back garden but you’ve got to do what you can to pass the time and keep your fitness up.
A: Dom: For those who say they enjoy going to the pubs, that’s their socials, this is our pub, this is our happiness. It’s a nice little community.
A: Joseph: I’m enjoying it loads, it’s a nice change being able to come back into an environment like this, especially with the stress of lockdown. It’s a place to come enjoy yourself, better yourself, and make friends with people who have the same attitude as you.
Talking to Jamie Martin, Personal Trainer at Castle Gym:
Q: Just explain that…you’re offering your services here at Castle Gym is that right?
A: Yes, it’s my first day here as a personal trainer. It’s a risky business but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Business of course over the last year has been nothing, we’ve all lost clients, it’s been a really hard year. I lost a lot of motivation, I really struggled. This day is a big day for me, I can get back to training, socialising and working again.
Everyone’s coming in and enjoying themselves. We’ve all been in the same boat, missing lifting weights. The gym is our way and my way to better myself. To be able to do things, go out, be happy, and feel good about myself. It’s a lot of mental help, for me it’s a big benefit. I’m glad to see everyone here getting stuck in and am looking forward to a session myself.
Final words with Luke:
Q: Are you optimistic now that things aren’t going to go backwards and you are here to stay?
A: Well I think fingers crossed we’re not going to be closing again. It’s the beginning of the end really. We’re going to start opening back up. I think all small businesses have had it rough and we all want to support each other. It’s great that the community has come together and the community is supporting local businesses. I just hope that we can now remain open, and we should remain open. Especially from a gym point of view, like I said we’re part of the solution of the problem.
Closing interviewer comment:
It’s good to see places like this reopening and people here are certainly loving it!
We’d like to say a big thank you to the BBC East Midlands for coming down and reporting on our amazing community!