Darragh Holland also known as Dutchy with his wife Lorraine and son Jamie at their gym Dutchys Fitness at Corlurgan, Cavan along with members of their gym. Their are expressing the importance of exercise for mind and body and hoping their gym can reopen soon. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Fit for the fight

A group of protestors gathered in Cavan Town last weekend to emphasise the importance of opening up gyms and fitness clubs as soon as possible. The expectation is that Ireland’s lockdown may be eased in the coming weeks and months if case numbers stay stable. Government leaders have expressed a degree of optimism regarding an announcement of further relaxation of restrictions tomorrow (Thursday).

This hope is good news to the fitness enthusiasts who gathered at Corlurgan Business Park on the Ballinagh Road to protest outside Dutchy’s Fitness, Cavan on Saturday. The group wanted to make a public stand on the importance of fitness to physical and mental well-being.

For the past four months Ireland’s Level Five restrictions saw non-essential retail and services like hairdressers, cultural institutions, gyms, pubs and restaurants closed. On Monday zoos and wildlife parks, outdoor tennis courts and golf courses were permitted to reopen as a number of COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.

“A couple of our members arranged the protest,” Darragh Holland, the owner of Dutchy’s Fitness, said of the public gathering on Saturday. The fitness instructor and business owner is hoping that this Thursday’s announcement will be in line with what is happening across the Border where gyms in Northern Ireland will reopen on Friday, April 30.

“We have been closed all of January, February and March,” Darragh told the Celt. “We tried to do a limited open up in April, but the guards told us to close. Some of our members have been on to politicians to lobby them about opening gyms up. As you can imagine our members are very annoyed about the way things are.”

Dutchy’s Fitness Cavan has been in operation since September 2011 offering services that encompasses all aspects of healthy living, from exercise to nutrition. Darragh expressed optimism after a difficult year: “Things are very positive at the moment. The number of people being vaccinated, the promise of more things opening up, but God knows what will happen in September/October. If there was another lockdown, it would be a disaster for myself, my staff and other businesses.”

The business owner feels left out of the loop on what measures will be taken by the State later this week: “No one has contacted me at all. We are watching the news to see what is going on. We are awaiting the announcement this week to see what is happening. We have invested in a marquee, so hopeful that will allow us to hold some outdoor classes.

“Our unit is very spacious. We have big windows and doors, but I have to invest in the marquee. You need something because the Irish weather is unpredictable,” he says of his contingency plans.

One development in the last year will be continued regardless of what happens later this week: “We will keep the online classes even when things open up. People are still a bit nervous about getting out and about. The online classes have been very helpful, they have kept pour members going and kept us going as a business. We are lucky in that regard.”

Darragh says if things go according to plan the next year should be very different: “I like to think we will be busy, it might start slow, but over the summer we should do well. Come September, if most of the people in the country are vaccinated then we could be looking forward to a good busy winter.

“It will be viable. We just broke even over the last year, so we have a lot of ground to make up, but at least we have no big debts to clear, our landlord has been very helpful in that regard,” he concluded.