Gym owner loses some 200 members following Covid-cert introduction

Gym owner Dirk van der Flier has made nearly 200 cancellations or freezing of membership after the government’s decision to provide Covid-19 certificates for gym attendance.

There was widespread opposition among gym-goers to the mandatory vaccination certificates that were introduced so soon on December 7.

The Recreation, Health and Fitness Association, which represents 370 facilities, expects a drop of up to 40 percent in new membership next month — the traditionally busiest month.

Mr. Van der Vlier owns Gyms Plus which has headquarters in Ballsbridge, Rathfarnham and Swords in Dublin, Ashbourne in Co Meath, Cork city, Drogheda in Co Louth and Naas, Co Kildare.

“We have people who have canceled their membership. We have had people who have stopped working,” he said.

He said the cancellations should be viewed in the context of Gyms Plus, which has between 13,000 and 14,000 members across its network.

However, he stressed, it’s too early to have a definitive picture of how it will affect gyms.

“It’s hard to judge the effect because this is usually a very quiet week. It varies from place to place. I thought it would be much worse,” he said.

Mr van der Vlaer said the Covid statement came as a shock to some of its members when it was implemented so short on December 7 that not all members had heard or seen the news.

“It’s hard to know what the demographics are. The problem with the right people is that they think they are invincible anyway.”

He also believes there is an attempt by outsiders to pit gym members against the Covid testimonies.

“You should see the lengths of emails I get citing this verb and that. They are written by someone with the mind of a lawyer. People feel empowered to face this.”

There is no conclusive evidence

A small gym owner and personal trainer from north Dublin said he would not require his clients for Covid-19 certificates.

The man, who asked not to be named because he feared it would affect his work, said Covid clearances failed to stop transmission as was their original intention.

“There is no strong evidence to suggest that they mitigated the spread of Covid, but for some reason they spread Covid testimonials in gyms,” he said.

“Leo Varadkar said he has encouraged more people to come forward for the vaccination. It has been used as a more coercive tactic than it was originally meant to be a safe place to eat.”

He emphasized that the Health Surveillance Protection Center (HSPC) had recorded very few outbreaks in gyms.

He admitted that vaccines did indeed help prevent serious illness and death, but that his members were healthy people who took care of their bodies.

“Working in this industry, I know that a disproportionate number of the unvaccinated population will be gym users who will take extra care of their personal health. They may take a more holistic approach to their health.

“Despite what anyone says, vaccines are a new drug. Understandably, some people are a bit hesitant and want to see how it goes.”

He also says that a lot of young people, especially teenagers, use the recreational facilities. “The younger you are in your age group, the more likely you are to find people who are not immune.

“The only reason to get them into the gym is to force people to get their vaccinations.”

Val Kearney, a visitor to the Waterford gym, said he does not support Covid-19 certifications in gyms despite being vaccinated himself.

“I have been back in using the gym since they recently reopened. As far as I know, there has been no Covid panic. All the members have been great, clearing equipment before and after use. There were no issues from the staff either, from where the unwillingness to have unvaccinated members in the building.”

The CEO of the Recreation, Health and Fitness Federation, Carl Dunn, said many gym owners were in “the crosshairs – there’s a lot of pent-up anger”.

Gardy was called to two gyms as members refused to comply with the new Covid-19 regulations.

“We had one incident where a man threw a pen at the reception staff in anger,” he said.

negative messages

He added that many sports clubs were targeted on social media, and bombarded with negative messages.

Several anti-vaccination gym-goers have contacted the Adrian (Kennedy) and Jeremy (Gibson) Opinions Matter podcasts to express their disapproval of the Covid-19 testimonies.

Biancha, who did not reveal her last name, said she was not against vaccination, but she does not trust the RNA vaccines currently being given.

She does antigen tests every two days and they come back negative on all occasions.

She suggested allowing unvaccinated people separate days to go to the gym.

“All those people who are not allowed in because they make a decision, and that’s discrimination,” she said.

“Some ethnic groups are used to not being allowed in the bar. This is discrimination. We are talking about principles here. I am so mentally frustrated that I can’t go to the gym.”

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