SOME gym owners have voiced disappointment that they will not be able to reopen until May 10, despite previously being told they would be among the first businesses return.

On Wednesday evening, the Welsh Government announced gyms and leisure centres would be able to reopen from May 10, although exercise classes would not be allowed to resume for a further week after that.

It was much later than many had hoped, and later than neighbouring England where gyms will reopen on April 12 along with non-essential retail.

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Claire Pennington, the owner of Hub Gym in Chepstow, said although it was positive to get a date for reopening, it was "disappointing" that was so late.

“A positive is that we have finally got some sort of date set in stone for reopening,” she said.

“It’s disappointing that at the beginning we were told gyms would be one of the first to reopen, and that has been backtracked on substantially.

Claire Pennington, owner of The Hub Gym in Chepstow. Picture: Claire Pennington.

Claire Pennington, owner of The Hub Gym in Chepstow. Picture: Claire Pennington.

“I think it’s disappointing for people in Wales that they have to wait almost a month longer than people in England to get back in the gym. I don’t think they’ve taken into account that people cross the borders. We are four or five miles from Thornbury, it’s causing unnecessary competition between businesses on either side,

“But we are happy about having a date. The staff are excited.

“Hopefully there will be some additional funding to help us through not the middle of May.”

Alex Bodin, owner of OneGym in Newport, said his reaction to the announcement was one of "disappointment and frustration".

"They have basically dangled a carrot in front of us, telling us we’d be among the first to reopen back in March. We’ve lost all trust now.

"For a lot of people, walking or outside activity just doesn’t work. You don’t have the equipment or the trained professionals who are specialists in health and fitness.

Alex Bodin, owner of One Gym in Newport. Picture: One Gym

Alex Bodin, owner of One Gym in Newport. Picture: One Gym

"Why is it so far behind England? Particularly when the cases are so much lower than England.

"We are bottom of the pecking order, and should we go into another lockdown, it looks like we will be one of the first to be closed down.

"We are in the process of putting together a collective of gyms, health clubs, sport professionals and personal trainers and are looking at doing a march in Cardiff to raise awareness.

Our message is the Welsh Government stance is putting the health of the nation at risk. They are putting things that are detrimental to people’s health ahead of an industry which improves people’s health.

"We want these businesses classified as essential so if there are any further lockdowns, we’re not closed down."

Angharad Collins, chief executive of Torfaen Leisure Trust, described the decision as “bitterly disappointing”.

“We have consistently provided evidence to Welsh Government over the last 12 months that our sector is safe,” she said. “There is no new additional evidence that we are aware of that Welsh Government is considering to arrive at the reopening timeline for leisure centres.

“It has left myself and the whole team shocked and disheartened.

“We urge ministers to reconsider the timelines with regards to the return of sport and physical activity. They are key components for the recovery of the nation from the pandemic.”

Pontypool Active Living Centre, run by Torfaen Leisure Trust.

Pontypool Active Living Centre, run by Torfaen Leisure Trust.

And ukactive, a not-for-profit health body for the physical activity sector, also called for the date of reopening to be reviewed by the first minister.

Chief executive Huw Edwards said: “Today’s announcement from the first minister provides mixed emotions for the operators and customers of gyms, pools, and leisure centres across Wales.

“While there is now a date for gyms and facilities to reopen in Wales, there remains deep disappointment and frustration at how late May 10 is within the published roadmap.

“Gyms, pools, and leisure centres proved in the first reopening they were safe, with an extremely low prevalence rate of Covid-19. This was primarily a result of the framework developed by the Welsh Government and partners, including ukactive.

“This unnecessary delay in reopening the sector will place more financial pressure on the ability of these facilities to survive, and delay the ability of the Welsh public to improve their physical, mental, and social wellbeing.

“We believe this date should be reviewed and the Welsh Government needs to provide greater bespoke support for the recovery and survival of these essential facilities.

“ukactive will continue to work with the Welsh Government to ensure facilities are able to reopen as soon as possible, and to ensure they can continue to provide their essential service to the communities they serve.”