AN independent gym owner has branded the latest coronavirus restrictions "a joke" and described the devastating impact on his business. 

On Wednesday, pubs (that do not serve food), bars, gyms and bookmakers were made to close their doors as part of the latest Tier 3 restrictions placed on Liverpool City Region - which includes St Helens.

This is becasue of soaring rates of Covid-19 infections and rapdily increasing admissions to hospital of patients with the disease.

One of the gym owners affected is Mike Garner, owner of Evolution Fitness, on North Road.

He said: "I was devastated when the latest restrictions were announced, we've only been open for a year and a half and half of that we've been in lockdown.

"The personal trainers who base themselves here are self employed as well, so it's not just me, its them as well who are financially affected.

"I think the current restrictions are a joke honestly, pubs can be open if they serve food but not without and gyms cannot open at all.

"It's the atmosphere around it too, I've been told I can't open or I'll be fined, then fined again and again.

"So I thought, OK I'll use this time to do up some bits, and went in the other day and five police officers showed up to check what I was doing.

"This is 100 per cent going to impact people's businesses obviously but even worse people's mental health.

"A lot of people use exercise as a way to get away and work through some things and taking the gyms away at a time like this is daft in my opinion.

"I would understand if everything closed, but the reasoning behind what stays open and what shuts makes no sense to me, but I don't think the Government have that much of an idea either.

"Even the funding you can get to stay open, you can only apply for it from November 4 and for me I can only get £1,300, which isn't enough to pay the bills.

"The whole thing is ridiculous."

Meanwhile, Mark Hunt, the St Helens-based personal trainer, raised concerns about the “physical and mental health” of a lot of his clients, who use exercise to relieve stress.

Mark, who writes fitness columns for the Star, bases himself in Evolution. 

He said: “They [clients) have demanding jobs, busy home lives and the gym is the escape to release those endorphins and recharge to be able to function better mentally and physically.

“Eating healthily and exercise go hand in hand.

"I’ve been personal training for more than 10 years and know if the exercise slips, or in this case is taken away, the eating also slips which has the knock on effect of low mood, weight gain and the health issues that entails.”

St Helens Star: Mark Hunt

Mark Hunt is one of the many personal trainers hit by the closures

He added that most personal trainers are self employed and that any support being given is often delayed and nowhere “near enough to match earnings”. 

Mark said: “The last lockdown was crippling; we’ve all been struggling to build our businesses back up.”