Hundreds of gym members march to Senedd calling for sector to be classed as essential

Gym owners and members want the sector to become essential

Hundreds of gym owners and members marched from City Hall in Cardiff to the Senedd this morning, protesting for the sector to become classified as essential.

Around 300 gathered for the protest, holding up signs which read: "When did our health become non-essential?"And: "Together we'll shape a healthier community".Earlier this week, First Minister Mark Drakeford brought forward the reopening of gyms from May 10 to May 3.

Around 300 protesters marched across Cardiff

Welsh Health Matters, a group of Welsh gym owners, said their goal is for gyms and leisure facilities to be classified as essential. They said this is because of the positive impact they have on the nation's wider health - both physical and mental.The group hopes this would mean that, if future lockdowns are required in Wales, gyms would not be forced to close for prolonged periods of time.

Gym members said its health benefits must be recognised despite Covid-19

Alex Bodin, director of One Gym in Newport, said: "We're pushing the message that the health of the Welsh public is at an all-time low, obesity levels are at an all-time high."People in our industry, who are experts in working day-in, day-out to better people's health, aren't being prioritised."It's hard for us to see things that are actually detrimental to health being prioritised ahead of us: pubs, drinking, takeaways have been open throughout this pandemic when all the figures suggest that being overweight and unhealthy leads to an increased likelihood of becoming ill with Covid."

The Welsh Government has maintained a cautious approach to the easing of lockdown measures. The First Minister Mark Drakeford has said it is safer to open outdoor hospitality ahead of gyms as coronavirus is more likely to spread indoors.