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Penarth bodybuilder talks lockdown impact and opening dates

A PENARTH qualified fitness professional has submitted a comment to the Senedd reflecting his concerns on the ongoing closure of the sector and why a reopening date is needed.

Back in February, the minister for mental health and wellbeing Eluned Morgan said the Welsh Government were “really reluctant” to close the sector over the winter lockdown due to its physical and mental health benefits.

The health and fitness sector was forced to close along with every other non-essential retailers on December 20, and under Wales’ four-level alert system plan, the sector would be able to reopen when Wales moves into alert level three.

However, this has yet to happen, with gym owners and the hospitality sector now having to wait until April for any announcement on the governments position.

Anthony Stingl, who also goes by Mr Welshie, has been avidly campaigning to get the Welsh Government to reopen gyms by getting in contact with the Senedd personally to explain the situation in his words.

He says in his eight years of working within the industry, he has seen first-hand the importance health and fitness has, not only physically but mentally.

“I know there’s a lot of people who use the gym as more of a release mentally,” he said.

“I have suffered from depression, as well as a lot of people I’ve trained.

“I believe it is no longer an excuse to keep gyms and fitness closed when we are seeing higher infection rates in areas like schools and shops.”

Mr Stingl says it is “critical” that gyms receive an opening date in the coming weeks, and earlier this month the First Minister said that gyms, outdoor hospitality, and extended households will be considered as part of a review on April 22.

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“[The Welsh Government] said it was going to be one of the first things considered, and it just went quiet,” he added.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable to say that, and then not say anything about it.”

The First Minister recently suggested Welsh Government claims about gyms earlier in the pandemic may have been misguided, saying: “I’ve been reading evidence recently that says we shouldn’t treat all gyms the same. Up until now that is what we have done, we have treated gyms as one class and have kept either all of them closed or all of them open.”

Mr Stingl said, in response to Drakeford’s statement: “This is a man who only realised gyms were different sizes and had different ventilation systems a few weeks ago,”

“He should have maybe visited a few gyms before deciding what to do with them.

“Training at home out outdoors is not viable for everybody and the majority have suffered already.

“I believe it’s time to stop that suffering.”

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