With the continued closure of his gym facilities in Level Five lockdown, Darragh Holland from Dutchy’s Fitness has taken his sessions online in an attempt to help his members keep fit.
Darragh said the closure of his business in January, typically the busiest time of the year for new memberships, is a “massive loss” but he is trying to “make the most of a bad situation”. He feels the government could be doing more to support the sector.
He has a gym at Corlurgan Business Park in Cavan and another in Dundalk - his staff members are all on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and Darragh is endeavouring to avail of the wage subsidy scheme for himself.
“We are lucky that we went online and that is keeping the business ticking over. We are doing workouts via Facebook – we go live and the members are able to watch me and follow what I do for the 45 minute workout,” he told the Celt.
“We are still helping people with diet and nutrition and also mobility classes,” added Darragh.
“It’s a disaster but there a lot of other people worse off too,” he said.
Dutchy’s Fitness count a lot of teachers as members and Darragh revealed they said “they felt safer with us in the gym than they felt in class during the day and people also told us that they felt safer in our place than they did in the supermarkets”.
He said they had taken all the relevant precautions in the gyms and were following all guidelines.
“We had everyone spread out and in their own spot. There was no need for you to be touching any other equipment and it was working great. I feel it is a bit harsh on certain gyms. I know the Government have to do what they have to do as numbers [Covid cases] were very high. I would like to think we would open in March and, if it came down to Level Four, we could go back to doing our thing – it would allow us to do individual training,” surmised Darragh.
“Ideally we would like to return to Level Three or Two – we are very limited in what we can do. The Government supports are okay but I don’t know if they are just enough, especially in the second and third lockdowns. I would say there are a lot of companies really struggling,” he continued.
“We are lucky enough... if we had any debts, we would be under a lot of pressure,” said Darragh.
While the physical benefits of exercising in the gym are obvious, Darragh pointed to the social aspect.
“Members are finding this third lockdown the toughest. They are raring to get back to the gym. There is only so much coaching we can do on Facebook live. When they are there in front us, we can be a bit more direct and spot what they are doing wrong and coach them a bit better,” he said.
“There is so much more to fitness than losing weight and getting a six pack – mental health is a massive part of it... We are hearing from clients a lot more about their head space,” said Darragh.
Dutchy’s Fitness, when fully operational, provides over 40 classes a week and there is always a coach present to lead the sessions.