Members of council-run leisure centres will be able to use gyms at a number of sites, as part of a phased reopening of services in line with national health guidelines.
Facilities at some Stoke-on-Trent City Council-run venues will open again from Monday 27 July. It will mean that gyms at Fenton Manor Sports Complex, Dimensions Leisure Centre and The Wallace Centre Sport and Education Centre will be open for existing health members only.
A selection of fitness classes – aerobic, relaxation and indoor cycle sessions – will be available to existing health club members from Monday 3 August.
Due to the restrictions, all memberships and subscriptions have been frozen since March. Gym members will get free use of facilities throughout August. Membership fees will be capped at £10 for September, with a view to packages returning to normal after full services resume.
During August, all members will have ‘global’ access to facilities available at Fenton Manor, Dimensions Leisure Centre and The Wallace Centre. Gym users are asked to please ensure that they bring their membership card with them. There will be members of staff to greet visitors and a queueing system will be in place.
A range of safety measures will be in place to support visitors, including one-way systems, screens in reception, guidelines for customers and increased cleaning. Gym users will also be given materials to clean their workstations and equipment after they use them. There will also be restrictions on the number of pieces of equipment available to help ensure social distancing measures are followed.
Gym users are advised that all activities must be pre-booked via the ActiveStoke app, via the online booking portal at stoke.gov.uk/leisure, or by calling the leisure centres.
From August 3, clubs affiliated to their national governing body, for example the Football Association, will be able to book artificial sports pitches at Dimensions and Northwood Stadium.
The authority is also working through recently-published Swim England guidance and expects to be able to offer lane swimming sessions at Fenton Manor from August 3, subject to meeting the necessary safety measures. Educational and private swimming lessons are expected to start in September.
Sport and leisure teams are also analysing specific guidance from national governing bodies to ensure other indoor facilities and activities can open in a safe and controlled way. This includes facilities and activities at New Horizons and Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre, sports halls, club and coaching sessions, the health spa at Fenton Manor, cafés, and events or parties.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “It is such good news that we can begin to reopen leisure services, as we continue our recovery from the coronavirus lockdown. This will be done in a phased and controlled way, in line with national guidance. We can’t wait to welcome gym users back to our centres, and our teams have been working incredibly hard to ensure every safety measure and precaution is in place to look after the health and wellbeing of all visitors and staff. This is the beginning of the reopening of these services and as such, we’re really pleased to be able to be able to offer our gym facilities free of charge for existing members during August. We are also capping membership fees to a low price throughout September.”
Leisure centres temporarily closed on 28 March, as part of national coronavirus lockdown measures. Many staff have been redeployed to other roles to help keep vital services running through the pandemic. Fenton Manor Leisure Centre has been used as a base for the #StokeonTrentTogether campaign, which has provided support to thousands of vulnerable people. A number of virtual workout classes have run during the lockdown on the social media channels of the leisure centres, and have attracted thousands of participants.