Huge interest in North Kirklees gyms as people look to shape up after lockdown

Health and well-being are at the forefront of people’s minds after 12 months of Covid-19 and a lockdown winter which saw many gain weight.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 6:00 pm
Lifeguard Josh Truman and fitness instructor Becca Morris at the re-opened gym at Dewsbury Sports Centre, which has seen the return of customers in recent weeks

Lockdown has also taken its toll on mental health and more people are waking up to the need to take better care of themselves.

Since more lockdown restrictions were eased on April 12, gyms across North Kirklees have been inundated with new members. Slimming and weight loss groups have also had a flood of enquiries ahead of people being able to meet up again in more settings from May 17.

The traditional January rush, when New Year resolutions to get fit or lose weight are made, didn’t happen this year as gyms were only open for one day before the third national lockdown.

Lauren Pachniuk at MP Fit gym, Birstall, says people have been signing up in droves

Instead, the busiest time of the year has been pushed back to April and May. Since gyms were able to open for personal sessions inside, membership enquiries have exploded and people have been signing up in droves.

Gyms are expecting the boom time to continue and believe new members will stick with their lifestyle change.

Kathryn Cooke, who runs PJ’s Health & Fitness Village in Cleckheaton and two Slimming World groups in Roberttown and Liversedge, said people now wanted to look after themselves.

“Living with Covid has meant that people are now realising the massive benefits of looking after your health and fitness. Covid has really brought it home to people that they have to look after themselves,” she said.

Kathryn Cooke at PJ’s Health & Fitness Village, Rawfolds, Cleckheaton has been welcoming back gym-goers who are keen to get back into good habits after lockdown

“Mental health has been a huge issue too and people realise that exercise can make them feel so much better generally.”

Kathryn signed up a lot of new members at the gym who said their motivation was putting on weight during lockdown.

“It wasn’t too bad during the first lockdown because the weather was good and people tended to go out for walks but the lockdown over winter was more difficult,” she said.

“There were long evenings, it was cold and dark and people didn’t want to go out. That’s when bad habits creep in.”

While personal gym sessions are back, Slimming World groups have to wait until May 17 to meet in person, although groups have kept going virtually during lockdown.

Kathryn said she’d had lots of enquiries for her sessions on Wednesdays at Roberttown Community Centre and Thursdays at St Andrew’s Church.

When group sessions resume they will be limited to 30 people and be shorter in duration but Kathryn will run as many as she needs to. “We don’t want to disappoint anybody,” she said.

“We usually run two sessions per night but we’ll be running at least three this time and more if we have to.”

People who wouldn’t normally join a gym have been signing up in droves at MP Fit in Birstall.

Lauren Pachniuk, general manager at the gym at Britannia Mills, Gelderd Road, said they had been inundated with enquiries for membership, and everyone was delighted and relieved to be back.

“It’s been really busy and there’s been a real positive vibe about the place,” said Lauren.

“People who I would never have expected to see have been wanting to join the gym. I think Covid has given people not a scare as such but maybe the kick they needed to look after their health and fitness. Our personal trainers have been very busy.

“We never had a January rush because of Covid but that’s what we’re getting now. When we opened at 6am on the first day after lockdown the gym was full in no time at all.

“People really struggled to exercise outside because the weather had been so cold during the winter and people’s mental health had also been affected.

“Hopefully coming back to the gym and being able to see other people will improve their mood. We’ve certainly seen some happy people and we’re really excited for May 17 when our classes can start up again.”

The Ellam family, who run two gyms in Mirfield and Ravensthorpe, say their customers generally remain cautious.

While many were chomping at the bit to get back in the gym, others are preferring to wait on the sidelines a little longer.

Champion bodybuilder Jeannie Ellam, who runs Roy Ellam’s Premier Health Club and Fitness Connection in Ravensthorpe with dad Roy, said: “It’s great to be back but I still think a lot of people are a bit scared to come out again.

“Gyms are safe places and we have all the protocols in place but some of our customers haven’t come back yet.

“A lot of them are waiting until they have had their second vaccine and others have got used to exercising outside and going out walking and they are continuing with that.

“Then there’s a third group who are back out enjoying the pubs being open again!”

Kirklees Active Leisure, which runs gyms at Dewsbury Sports Centre and at Batley Sports and Tennis Centre at Howden Clough, has also welcomed back its customers.

In a statement a spokesman said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be back open and to see all our customers, who we have missed so much.

“We understand the importance being active plays in people’s physical and mental health so to be able to support our customers with that again, through our centres, has been brilliant.

“Over lockdown we invested in a new fitness suite at Batley Sports and Tennis Centre and have really enjoyed the positive response that has received from customers returning and making the most of the new facilities there.”