Group exercise return a boost for Benalla fitness fanatics

By Meg Saultry

While the easing of COVID-19 restrictions around group exercise looks good on paper, the reality of re-implementing workouts for some Benalla personal training and fitness businesses varies from case to case.

Group fitness and PT business MOJOfit owners Jo Toms and Kristy Morrison are working through the best ways to return parts of their business to the public.

“It sounds great on paper, but there are still a lot of restrictions,” Toms told The Ensign.

The pair won’t have access to the Benalla Showgrounds shed they run their bootcamps out of, while there is also the issue of facilitating smaller groups for classes.

“We can work with over 30 people at a time. We’re also child friendly which would add extra people,” Toms said, referencing the 10 person limit to outside gatherings.

Toms and Morrison are mothers’ themselves and are continuing to home school their children ahead of a return to face-to-face learning.

“We’ve been discussing the best way to return - it’s not feasible to run 30 classes a day to please everyone,” she said.

“We are running our eight-week bootcamp at the moment, and are in week five - that will remain online for the final three weeks.

“Our personal training side might be the first point of call to return.

“We may set up some face-to-face time-slots.”

For gyms it’s another story, with brick and mortar buildings to remain closed under the latest restrictions.

Primal Health Club Benalla has continued to offer online memberships and announced on Tuesday they would begin taking some classes outside, while Dynamic Fitness Studio has restarted their operations by taking a number of group training sessions outside.

Dynamic Fitness Studio’s Rhiannon Moss said there was a high level of excitement among the community to have group exercise back on offer.

“People have been jumping on board,” Moss said.

“It’s an opportunity to get outside, be around people and set new goals and challenges.”

Moss said the business had faced several challenges throughout the initial lockdown, but her team had used the recent down time to plan ahead.

“We were classified as a gym, even though we are a personal training business, so we weren’t able to use our studio,” Moss said.

“I think the instructions weren’t clear initially.

“It took over a week to get clear instructions from our MPs, but Felicity Hartridge from Steph Ryan’s office has been amazing in clarifying rules that at times have been a bit hazy.”

Moss said her landlord had also been fantastic throughout the restrictions.

“They were able to give me a reduction on my rent,” she said.

“When your business has to close through no fault of your own, you still have your financial commitments with no income so it can be tough.

“But during those first set of rules though, we were able to get the team together and work on new strategies we could implement into training when we did return.”

MOJOfit and Dynamic Fitness Studio turned to social media during the lockdown, offering different services online to keep motivation high among clients.

“The internet has been fabulous - we’ve pretty much run our bootcamp online, and we’ve been doing some free classes with MOJOfit at Home,” Toms said.

“We’ve been quite surprised with how consistent people have been.

“And it’s been great to create that community.

“We will stay online for a while longer.”

Moss is another advocate for the use of social media during lockdown.

“We have a very tech savvy team member, Leisl, who has been a godsend,” Moss said.

“We’ve been using Zoom and Facebook, with people doing training from the comfort of their homes.”

With outside classes now gearing up for Dynamic Fitness Group, Moss said her team had prioritised getting its seniors groups moving again, while also initiating contact with all their clients.

“We have a seniors group of 25 people who train three days a week. We can only have nine clients at a time, so we’ve been designating time-slots to get them out and moving again. That’s been a main priority,” she said.

“And we’re able to make us of our beautiful parks and ovals, which will get people outside.

“And we’re been touching base with everyone - everyone is in a bit of a lull, so it’s about getting them motivated and seeing them set new goals.”

Though there still remains uncertainty as to when step two of eased restrictions will be introduced - and if people will indeed be able to return to gyms - Moss believed if her studio was able to re-open, they would need to plan well in advance.

“We’d need to allow for social distancing and the four-square metre rule,” she said.

“We are here to support our amazing community whilst also adhering to the rules.”

It’s a sentiment Toms echoes.

“We’d love our community to get back together. We just need it to be safe for every one to jump back in,” she said.

Whatever the outcome, it’s clear to see Benalla’s fitness community doing its all to help keep everyone happy, fit and healthy during these uncertain times.