THE owner of a popular Bradford gym has asked what makes garden centres essential businesses in lockdown why gyms are being forced to close.

Terry Holt, who runs The Pride Gym in Abb Scott Lane, Low Moor, questioned the rationale behind forcing gyms to shut, saying infection rates are low and they are crucial for people's physical and mental health.

From Thursday, gyms will be among a vast swathe of businesses forced to close as part of the new month-long national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It follows them being forced to close in the initial lockdown which started in March, and also being told to shut by Bradford Council in local lockdown.

Mr Holt, whose gym opened in December 2018, said: “This is the third lockdown on gyms we’ve had this year, it’s pretty devastating for us.

“And it’s not just the gym it’s our members too who are finally feeling confident to return and getting into a routine again.

“This is impacting on people’s mental and physical health. Bradford has a diabetes, an obesity crisis. It’s one of the most unfit cities in the country and we’re shutting the gyms.

“The financial support on offer is minimal, what’s on the table will barely even cover the bills.

“Gyms should be protected as an essential sector. Why is a garden centre seen as being essential but a gym is not?

“The lockdown is just a lazy cover-all approach. There have been 45 million gym visits since the last lockdown and in gyms there is a transmission rate of 0.99 infections per 100,000 people, in comparison in Bradford the rate is something like 450.

“The impact of this is going to be long term and more damaging than a few Covid-19 cases. The gym is an escape for people, a place to work out and get away from normal life and now people will lose that.

“I’ve had hundreds of messages from members offering their support and will try to stick by us, but everyone is going to suffer some hardship in this lockdown.

“We’ve been closed more than we’ve been open this year, I don’t know how longer we can continue to operate.”