Some gym goers are still paying their membership rates in an effort to help businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gyms have shut up shop for the lockdown and initial indications show they’ll likely remain closed until the second alert level.

It has put enormous strain on businesses large and small but some are getting a financial leg up from their client base.

Urban Fitness owner Mike Young said he lost about 20 members of his 135-strong crew at the Wellington gym.

“Some of them [opted out] straight away which is understandable; you get some people that just get nervous.

“We’d never hold anything against anybody that wanted to opt out but the majority stayed which is amazing. The support has been incredible.”

Young said his income had dropped to about a third of what it was before lockdown.

He said members who’ve lost income are paying partial or no fees but it’s hard making decisions about money in his tight-knit community at such an uncertain time.

“I literally know everybody’s names, everybody knows me and they see me almost every day. We have social occasions and people want to see the gym survive.

“However I also still feel, it’s like a little monkey on my shoulder, I don’t want a small percentage of people carrying the gym as well.”

Les Mills is one of the country’s larger gym outfits with 60,000 members in 12 clubs in the largest biggest cities.

Head of club operations Brett Sutton said the business had to stop billing members as soon as the lockdown came into force.

“Essentially our revenue went from hero to zero as we closed of the billing tap and we won’t turn that back on until such time as that we’re open.”

Sutton said the business has since launched online classes and partnered up with TVNZ to air fitness sessions.

However, he said this had not stopped some people offering to continue paying for their membership.

“We had a number of people come back to us and ask if they can pay their dues in support of our business.

“We’re a legacy business, 52 years old and a real pillar in the industry in New Zealand and a number of our members aknowledged that and have loved what we’ve done for them in the past.”

Sutton said about 200 members were still paying their gym fees to support the business and while it was a drop in the bucket, every bit counted.

“It makes a big difference when people do offer up their generosity and want to continue to pay their dues,” he said.

“We’re super grateful for that level of contribution and support in an attempt to be there at the end of what looks to be a lengthy shutdown.”

Hamilton woman Donna-Lee Biddle is doing her bit to keep her local cross-fit gym open.

A journalist by trade, she said she was lucky to still have a job as an essential worker and wanted to keep paying her gym fees to work out online.

“It’s a bit sub optimal but I continue to pay because I hope the gym will still be open when we are able to go back there after lockdown.”

Biddle said she wanted to keep investing in what had become an important community in her life.

“I’ve been part of that gym for more than a year so it’s something that I don’t mind investing my money in.

“I see it as more of an investment as opposed to giving it away when I’m not really getting a service.”

The current risk of Covid-19 transmission is still too high for gyms to reopen, even after lockdown.

The government has signalled gyms may open again at alert level 2 if appropriate health measures are in place.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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