Gym owners: Coronavirus rules killing our business

Customers who have had both shots of vaccine or recovered from COVID allowed back in fitness centers, but owners say that as they still have to cover 100% of costs it is impossible to operate without state financial support

Alexandra Lukash |
Gym owners on Tuesday said they would not be able to operate under government restrictions that would only allow them to admit users who meet new coronavirus regulations.
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  • The coronavirus cabinet on Monday decided to allow businesses to including gyms to reopen their doors from next Sunday, but only for clients who have been fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 or can provide a negative test for the virus.
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    מחאת ענף חדרי הכושר מול הכנסת
    מחאת ענף חדרי הכושר מול הכנסת
    Gym owners and personal trainers protest outside the Knesset in Jerusalem over closures due to the pandemic, Dec. 2020
    After signing a petition calling on ministers to allow in all members of the public, three gym owners told Ynet that they will keep their establishments closed.
    The three said that government regulations would make it impossible for them to operate in a financially viable way.
    "We've been begging to be allowed to reopen for months but we need time to prepare," said Yaron Sela, the owner of Great Shape gyms.
    "We are required to make sure all our staff have been vaccinated. Only about a third of my employees have received their coronavirus shots. How am I supposed to operate like this?"
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    חדר כושר "אייקון פיטנס" בבאר שבע
    חדר כושר "אייקון פיטנס" בבאר שבע
    A Be'er Sheva gym stands empty after it was closed due to coronavirus regulations
    (Photo: Barel Ephraim)
    Sela said the decision to motivate the public to get the coronavirus shots by restricting the activities of those who have not been vaccinated is only hurting gym owners.
    "We need a solution for our loyal customers who have paid good money for our services but choose not to get the vaccines," he said.
    Doron Cohen, the owner of the Studio C chain of gyms said vaccines were important but there must be consideration of financial needs as well.
    "We are running businesses and hundreds of people in our line of work understand they will only be able to admit 30% of their clientele while still having to pay 100% of the costs. You don't have to be a genius to understand that there is no viable way to make that work," he said.
    "How can I survive like that?" Cohen said. "I am happy to join the effort to incentivize people to get the shots, but I need financing to do so."
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    בנימין נתניהו עם פורום הכושר
    בנימין נתניהו עם פורום הכושר
    Gym owners meeting with Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu to voice their concerns earlier this month
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    Yuval Libling, owner of Pro-Fit gyms added he had no idea how he could even begin to prepare to reopen under the current guidelines.
    "I have 35 branches. Show me one business around the world that would open its doors under such conditions," he said.
    "We are the scapegoats," he said. "We are not coronavirus deniers. We are a sector that promotes health and safety, but cannot survive this way."
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