Martin Duracka and Lisa Asandei at their Fitness Forever Gym.

‘No end in sight’ - Fit Forever

A popular Cavan couple, who run a successful gym in Cavan Town, have said they see “no end in sight” to the current situation of rolling lockdowns and business closures. Martin Duracka and Lisa Asandei, proprietors of Fit Forever at Kilmore Business Park, are alarmed to see their savings dwindling away as they remain closed, and the pair strongly believe there is less risk of contracting COVID-19 in the gym than in a busy supermarket.

Martin cannot understand why gyms are closed and says they are an important facility for health and well-being. “What is the difference between gyms and Tesco?” he ponders, as he speaks to The Anglo-Celt this week about the affects of the lockdown on the industry and gym members.

“Why are they doing these nonsense restrictions? Do they want people healthy or do they want them to be sick? Gyms help people to build up their immunity systems and people in Ireland suffer more with depression than anywhere else,” contended Martin.

His business has lost the months of January and February - typically the busiest for new members and renewals.

“As we stand here today, we don’t see the end of this in sight,” said a dejected Martin.

“We have no problem with the Government closing down businesses but €350 is not enough to pay my bills. They are giving €350 to people who never paid taxes – that is why we are upset about the situation,” he lambasted.

Martin pointed out they have to pay rent for the business, and also meet their household bills like everyone else. They are receiving €203 a week in relation to the closure of the business.

Lisa further explained that they still have to pay insurance, which is €1,000 per month. “It is difficult for everybody and not just the gym industry,” she said.

“When the gyms were open last year, there were no reports of people being infected with the virus [in gyms]. I don’t get why they closed down the gyms,” said Martin.

“If there is a virus out there, we should all be in the same boat and be closed - not saying you are essential and you are not,” he added.

The gym had strict Covid measures put in place during the first lockdown but say their equipment was always wiped down before and after use by members.

“You can control the amount of people that are let into the gyms. We have 500 sq meters in the gym and, between it and the studio, you could easily fit 10 to 20 people and they will be five meters apart.

“Why would they not let 10 people exercise every hour and that would be better than having the gym closed altogether,” suggested Martin.

Difficult situation

“We had some savings and we put them into keeping the business alive. Imagine our savings run out and we can’t open the doors again for the people. Take for example what can happen on the Main Street - every second shop is closed and will never re-open again,” Martin continued.

“Every year we were making the gym bigger and better and look where we are now,” he added.

Clients are contacting them to say they are depressed. “The weather is no good and they have nowhere to go. The gym is there for the community of Cavan,” said Martin.

“When you exercise you release a happy hormone, endorphins, and if you can’t go to the gym, you get upset with yourself. You miss your routine,” he added.

Partner Lisa agrees, adding that a one-hour workout in the gym is good for your body and your mind. “It is helping people to be happier afterwards,” said Lisa.

The couple are hopeful they will be permitted to reopen after March 5 if restrictions are eased.