NSW COVID-19: Sydney gyms tackle ongoing challenges despite easing restrictions


Exolt fitness class in Drummoyne Sydney. Source: Supplied.

Small businesses in New South Wales are relieved COVID-19 restrictions will ease further on Monday but those in the fitness industry say operating profitably remains difficult.

On Friday morning, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said 80% of residents 16 and older will be fully vaccinated by Saturday, allowing restrictions to ease further on Monday October 18.

As restrictions currently stand, up to 20 fully vaccinated people can attend a class at a gym or fitness studio, subject to a capacity limit of one person per four square metres. Staff working indoors and customers in small group classes must also wear masks.

When restrictions ease on Monday, fitness studios will be able to operate under a one person per two square metre rule instead of four.

For Liz Nable, director of Xtend Barre in Mosman and Dee Why, bringing in enough revenue to cover operating costs while juggling these ongoing capacity limits will be challenging.

“[The restrictions] make it really difficult but once December 1 comes around, we can have everyone back again,” Nable tells SmartCompany.

“We’re just looking forward to being able to trade openly and freely, and not feeling like the police are going to walk in at any point and give us a fine.”

From today, NSW residents can now check-in to businesses and show their digital vaccination status at the same time by scanning a QR-code.

“It does make the check-in process more seamless and it means you don’t have to have extra staff on the door,” Nable says.

Despite easing capacity limits and the new feature on the Service NSW app, small businesses in the fitness industry are mainly waiting for further restrictions to ease from December 1.

Sigrid Chambers, co-founder of Exolt fitness studio in Drummoyne, says she is effectively running two businesses until the NSW government scraps vaccine requirements in December.

Exolt, which offers a niche type of electro muscle stimulation (EMS) exercise, is running in-person sessions for vaccinated customers as well as online classes for unvaccinated clients.

“It’s quite tricky. It does feel like we’ve got two businesses, and it’s only one week in,” Chambers tells SmartCompany.

Chambers is posting regularly on social media and on Exolt’s business app to keep unvaccinated customers engaged.

“I’m trying not to isolate them so that when December 1 does come, we get their business back into the studio so that our revenue gets back to where it was,” she says.


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