Call for stronger advocacy and support for fitness operators in regional Victoria

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Citing a bleak outlook for the fitness industry in regional Victoria, gym owner and business leader Mel Tempest has called for stronger representation for the sector and a rescue package for the industry from the Federal and Victorian Governments.

With fitness operators across Victoria having endured repeated lockdowns over the past 16 months, Tempest, the owner of the Ballarat Body & Soul Genesis 24/7 gym, believes that the current lockdown for another week spell the end of many gyms, as well as other small businesses, in regional Victoria.

Tempest (pictured), who has worked to achieve a high international profile in fitness, says “there is not a day that passes where I don’t receive a call from a distressed business owner”.

Aware of the situation of many business owners, she explains “the Federal/State Government needs to come to the industry’s rescue with a national relief package … without it, the industry will shut down and this will cost us all in the long run.

“Already we are starting to witness a broken industry, business owners living day to day, no money left, borrowing money where they can, overdrafts and credit cards maxed out and landlords screaming for rent.”

She goes on to express her fears that without new financial support “clubs will close, mental health problems and suicide will increase, chronic illness will grow, and our health care system will crumble under the already existing strain.

“The fitness industry is more than a selfie on Instagram and the days on steel plates dropping in clubs are gone. We need to eliminate this poor image and promote what and who we are, ‘a lifeline for many’ (and) we need new representation and the fitness professionals of today to stand up to represent the next generations, so they have an industry to go to.

“Associations have done what they can, but it’s not enough to get us across the line.

“More fitness professionals men and women need to get involved with local, state and federal government.”

She added “we need funds now” citing that the relief payment system was too slow, noting “I only received a business relief grant for lockdown four yesterday, and here we are in lockdown number five.”

Tempest herself has repeatedly engaged with Victorian politicians and has gained the support of opposition members Louise Staley and David Hodgett who, she says, have thrown their support behind the fitness industry.

She has also been quoted in Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun in a report on the impact of lockdowns on small businesses in regional Victoria.

Click here to view this report.

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