A HELENSBURGH fitness instructor has called for greater leeway in restrictions on gyms re-opening after claiming the current guidelines are “handcuffing” the industry.

Museums, galleries, libraries and other visitor attractions re-opened last week, along with hairdressers, while beauty salons and a range of other ‘personal service’ businesses were given the green light by Nicola Sturgeon last week to re-open on Wednesday.

Organised contact sport for children under 18 is also permissible.

But indoor gyms, even with physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures in place, cannot re-open before July 31.

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Last week LiveArgyll – which operates Helensburgh leisure centre and swimming pool – announced that indoor gyms and fitness centres in Argyll and Bute are planned to re-open on August 3, initially on a restricted hours basis, pending government guidance.

Currently, one-on-one personal training or coaching is permitted if it is outdoors, physical distancing can be maintained, and is delivered to no more than 15 people in total at a time from a maximum of four different households.

But Steve Losh, who runs SOS Fitness and The Journey in West Clyde Street, says many independent personal trainers (PTs) are fearful of losing their business because complying with the guidelines is simply not feasible.

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“There’s a slight disconnect between what’s going on in England and what’s happening in Scotland now,” Steve told the Advertiser.

“PTs down south are now in their sixth week of working with clients but it’s very difficult for us in Scotland.

“I’m very enthused that they’ve been given a date in England for the full re-opening of indoor gyms [July 25], because that means hopefully a similar announcement will only be a couple of weeks away in Scotland.

"But my biggest challenge at this time is to have some of the restrictions lightened.

READ MORE: When will gyms reopen in Scotland – and what changes will be in place?

“We are being treated like a commercial gym which is very unfair. We don’t have rows of machines, we have isolated pods, isolated sanitisation stations, when people come in they bring their own kit and leave with it, and we have isolated areas for every client and we have a one-way system.

“We are ahead of the game when it comes to being prepared to re-open but we are being classed as a commercial gym, which is unfair for people like myself and for a facility which is already adhering to the guidelines.”

Steve admitted his frustration at seeing differing guidelines in each of the UK’s four countries, but said he has little choice but to continue to cooperate with Scottish Government advice.

He added: “These guidelines are effectively handcuffing the industry and it’s brought upon by ill advice.

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“It’s down to people not appreciating the difference between working indoors and working outdoors.

“We have to adhere to the guidelines because we have a client base who trust us and we want to steer other PTs in the industry in the same direction.

“We had 132 members when lockdown started and we’ve been working in Hermitage Park recently, but the scariest thing for me is opening everything back up, then the virus kicks off again and we have to shut it all down.

“This is not going away so we have had to adapt: we now have three different membership options, one for those who want to do their thing at home, one for outdoors in the park, and one for when the bricks and mortar gyms are given the all clear to re-open.”

The First Minister said in a recent briefing: “If you run a gym or a swimming pool, or you want to use these places, don’t assume it’s not in our heads and we don’t think about it.

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“We just can’t do everything at once, and we need to think particularly about places that we know pose particular challenges. And gyms and swimming pools are in that category.

"But we will continue to assess these things, and get dates for when they can open as quickly as possible.

“For those business premises or those aspects of life that haven’t yet been given the go-ahead, we have not forgotten about you.

“That is true of gyms and swimming pools, it is true of the live entertainment sector, which I know fear that they are going to be one of the last sectors to open.

“We have not forgotten and we want to work with you and keep working with you to give as much clarity as possible, as soon as possible.”

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