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By Liam George Brannon, organiser of the e-petition on COVID-19 restrictions on fitness facilities, which was debated in Parliament this week

I’m a 28-year-old competitive bodybuilder from North Lincolnshire. I created the petition to prevent gyms closing in the event of a spike in COVID-19, which has received over 600,000 signatures nationwide. I originally created the petition at the end of the last lockdown to try to safeguard gyms and leisure centres from being included in future restrictions, as they were in the previous lockdown. I felt that this virus was going to come back.

During the previous lockdown, I and many of my friends really struggled mentally and also became physically less active and less fit. The gyms are not just a release for many, they are an important part of a healthy routine and in my opinion should be one of the most essential services available to people during this pandemic.

We know that the most vulnerable people among us are the physically unfit and people who are obese, we also know that mental health issue are on the increase this year – again, I strongly believe that access gyms can combat this. Endorphins are released on a huge scale during exercise and after. To just take that away from people or not allow people to use the empty fitness facilities feels an absolute disgrace and as bad as denying access to other essential needs.

Another important aspect which appears to be overlooked is the fact that gyms are one of the sectors to have recorded the lowest positive COVID-19 cases – way below hospitality and supermarkets, that’s for sure.

Another frustrating factor in all of this is the Government’s idea that you can just replace exercise and facilities in gyms and leisure centres with home workout sessions. The price of equipment went up by around 400% on free weights for example, leading to people not being able to find or afford to buy them.

We must all continue to fight for what is right, we are the solution not the problem.

We need to build back fitter.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ukactive

 Look out for the latest stories and blogs in our Together series on the ukactive News page and Journal. For the latest sector guidance and daily analysis, visit the ukactive COVID-19 hub.

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