Wakefield gym lets members train for free amid Covid-19 financial difficulties

Men in a gymAstar Muscle and Fitness Gym are supporting their members if they have taken a financial hit.

Gym owners offer to freeze memberships in the hope that exercise will boost the mental health of its members.

Astar Muscle and Fitness Gym in Wakefield has told members that if they have been affected financially by Covid-19, then they can continue to train. They will have their membership frozen until they can get back on their feet.

Keith Brook, Co-Owner of Astar Muscle and Fitness, said: “I’m a massive believer that the gym helps people’s mental health. If you’re off work, you’re sat at home and you can’t afford to go to the gym, then you’re not going to be doing yourself any favours.

“We’ve all struggled at one point, and we know how much it can affect you mentally. If you’re in trouble financially, it blows your mind.”

According to the Independent, nearly a third (32 per cent) of people said coronavirus had impacted their personal income.

Joe Davies, Co-Owner of Astar Muscle and Fitness, said: “We closed down in the first lockdown as everybody did, and us as a business, we knew how hard it was that time around and not getting any income.”

Gyms and leisure centres are not currently forced to close in areas deemed “very high risk” (or tier 3) in the government’s three-tier COVID-19 alert system.

Davies said: “Touch wood, it looks like gyms are going to be allowed to stay open so we’re obviously really lucky, but other industries aren’t as lucky.

“We’re obviously really lucky, but other industries aren’t as lucky”

“We’ve got friends who own bars, friends who own restaurants, friends who own clubs, who are literally searching around for the next penny. And we know how important the gym is for people, so it’s something that we felt we could do, that’s not going to cost us a lot, but could mean the world to somebody.”

Keith Brook posted a video to Facebook to tell members what they were offering.

In response to their social media post, some current members of the Astar Muscle and Fitness Gym offered to pay the memberships of those who could not afford, on top of their own.

Davies said: “Our members have supported us a lot, a lot of them carried on paying their membership when the gyms shut to help us, so we wanted to do something that could give back to them.”

The membership fee is £25 a month – a lot to find if you’re on a low income in lockdown.

Mental health charity Mind has said that physical activity can improve your mental health in many ways. It can help with better sleep, happier moods, managing stress, anxiety or intrusive thoughts, better self-esteem, reducing the risk of depression and connecting with people.

Stuart Price, a member of Astar Muscle and Fitness, said: “From a personal point of view, the gym gives me confidence and it gets me out there.

“It gets me up on a morning and gives me something to look forward to”

“It’s easy to be just sat at home, if you’re sat at home and not doing anything, you get depressed quite easily and start overthinking. Whereas if I’m coming here (Astar Muscle and Fitness Gym) it gets me up on a morning and gives me something to look forward to. And after I’ve been, I feel so much happier and it gives me a spring in my step.”

Price’s son, Josh, was badly beaten up around six years ago. He was on a life support machine with a blood clot on his brain. Josh now suffers from bad mental health because he struggles to do the things he used to do. Price said: “coming to this gym gives him positive thoughts and the boost he really needs.”

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