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Leisure centres play ‘essential role’ in virus fight, says health chief

PUBLISHED: 18:59 23 September 2020

Joe Prigg, operations manager at Felixstowe Leisure Centre  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Joe Prigg, operations manager at Felixstowe Leisure Centre Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Leisure centres across Suffolk are encouraging people to return to gyms in a bid to increase mental and physical wellbeing during the Covid-19 crisis.

Felixstowe Leisure Centre are welcoming people back to the facility, with lots of social distancing measures in place to stay safe  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDFelixstowe Leisure Centre are welcoming people back to the facility, with lots of social distancing measures in place to stay safe Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Suffolk County Council is calling on people across the county – of all levels of fitness – to join or return to their local gyms, which they say play “an essential part” in recovery from the virus.

It comes as part of National Fitness Day and the Great British Week of Sport, which aim to highlight the effects of exercise on health and wellbeing.

Although gyms and leisure centres were allowed to reopen from July 25, centre owners are continuing to stress that facilities remain safe and that strict guidelines are being followed.

MORE: How to get involved in the Great British Week of Sport

Gym member Eric Shar likes to keep fit and healthy  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDGym member Eric Shar likes to keep fit and healthy Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

At Felixstowe Leisure Centre, measures in place include one-way systems and hand sanitising stations positioned throughout the building. An enhanced cleaning routine has also been put in place, while facilities are available for users to clean equipment.

Joe Prigg, operations manager at the centre, said: “Since coming back, we’ve put a number of different measures in place in order for our staff and customers to return safely.

“Obviously we are encouraging everybody to come back as soon as they can – we all know the benefits of exercise for our mental and physical wellbeing.

“We have made it as safe as we can are encouraging everyone to come back as soon as they can, basically.”

Jane Pearce said she is pleased to be back at the gym  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDJane Pearce said she is pleased to be back at the gym Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Leisure centres and gyms remain open despite the latest round of coronavirus restrictions announced by the government, although indoor team sports are now subject to the rule of six.

MORE: Huge new £2.2million leisure centre upgrade underway

James Reeder, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, added: “Our sport and leisure facilities are hugely important community assets and an essential part of the UK’s recovery from Covid-19.

“Not only do they help improve the physical and mental wellbeing of the community, including improving the body’s ability to fight viruses like Covid-19, and in doing so reduce the burden on the NHS, they also help to address challenges such as loneliness and isolation.

People enjoying an aqua fit class in the pool at Felixstowe Leisure Centre   Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDPeople enjoying an aqua fit class in the pool at Felixstowe Leisure Centre Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

“Things will be different, so when visiting, please do ensure you continue to follow the guidance to keep everyone safe - wash your hands regularly, cover your face where necessary and keep your distance from those you don’t live with.

“If we all play our part, we can return to our local gym, pool or fitness class safely.”


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