Sports clubs ready to play on

The return of recreational sports is going to be a huge boost for the country.

Sam Sorrell's socially distanced Zumba class in Skegness's Tower Pavilion.

Whether it's the return of fans to professional football matches or once again being allowed to have a game of cricket on your local sports field, it’s bound to lift spirits after the past 12 covid-hit months.

But with organised outdoor sports able to restart on March 29, but indoor adult group and sporting activities having to wait until May 17, those organising community sports have been left frustrated.

Sam Sorrell runs twice-weekly Zumba classes in Spilsby’s village hall, the Franklin Hall, and in the Tower Gardens Pavilion in Skegness and managed to run a number of her classes outdoors over the summer.

Ryan Gray of Feel Good Studio in Louth.

She said: “It was amazing to be back and interacting. The biggest issue I faced here was how many participants I was allowed into a space, and I had to leave cleaning time before and after class to keep everyone safe.

"I then let them enter through an open door so there were minimal touch points, took their temperature and asked them how they were feeling. The masks stayed on until we started to dance.

“We then shut down in November due to tier 3 restrictions into the full lockdown in January.”

But as classes have had to be cancelled, Sam has had to take on supply teaching work to make ends meet and offered her clients free 30 minute long Zumba classes online.

Horncastle and District Bowls Club

She said: “In the first lockdown I realised how vulnerable I was. I ran two small businesses; Zumba teacher and Firsby Fudge and both had to close. We suddenly had no income.

“Fortunately the businesses qualified for some help as I have been running for a fair few years, but it wasn’t enough.

“I had come from a teaching background so I decided to apply for agencies as a supply teacher. This really helped to alleviate the financial pressures we were under.

“There is no doubt that this period has been a massive ‘wake up call’ to many businesses. It has made me think about my options and whether or not to continue, but, I know how important my classes are for not only my physical health but, I think more importantly, my mental health.”

For some businesses and sports clubs, one big concern is that after such a long time away, their members won’t return.

This is the case for Mark Hildred, chairman of Boston Squash and Raquetball Club, as squash has to be played in such a small and enclosed indoor space:

“We’re ready to go again but we’re worried that as it’s been so long, people won’t bother to come back or that they’re worried about their safety.

“Our club is very covid-safe and squash is a good, healthy sport which can be played in an enclosed court with someone in your household or bubble, if you’re worried.

“There are plenty of opportunities to play and we have our children’s activities ready to go too.”

The squash club has all necessary Covid-19 protocols in place and as it stands, will be reactivating their members’ key fobs so they can start to book and play again as soon as restrictions are lifted.

Anyone interested in joining Boston Squash and Raquetball Club can call the club on 01205 839475 or Mark on 07703 193678.

With gyms not set to reopen until April 12 at the earliest, personal trainers and gyms have been left frustrated at the lack of income and their members unable to maintain their fitness goals.

Ryan Gray owns Feel Good Studio and Gym in Louth and has been trying to keep members on track by sending out fitness kit, including barbells, static bikes and weights, as well as running online classes via Facebook Live.

“This lockdown has been really draining for some people and getting on top of them," he said, “We've been getting messages from people saying they’ve been finding it hard so we’ve sent them some kit and doing online classes. It’s not as good as being in the gym, but people have been really missing going to the gym.”

Ryan is also concerned that they will lose members as people fall out of the habit of going as part of their daily routine.

“We just hope that when we’re allowed to reopen that our members will come back,” he said, “Exercise is really important for people’s mental health and I think that people will either be raring to get back in the gym or they won’t be bothered anymore.”

It's not just the lack of members that is concerning indoor sports clubs, but the financial implications of having to close the club to members while still paying overheads and other expenses.

Sleaford Indoor Bowls Club director Gerald Pask said that the club had to spend a lot of money making alterations to the building, including installing an air ventilation system in as well purchasing signs and other safety measures to make the building Covid-19 safe.

“We made all these changes and then we could only open for two months before we were locked down again, it was very frustrating," he said, “Also we were only allowed 30 members in at a time, and only two thirds of our members came back because most are over the age of 60, so they weren’t happy about coming back even with all the changes we made, so it’s hit our finances badly.

“Thank goodness we received some government funding as I don’t know where we would have been without it."

Gerald said that their bowling community is desperate to come back to play and socialise:

“We really hope people will come back, we’ve followed all thew guidelines and it’s very covid-safe. We’ve got lots to offer and we just need to get going again, so fingers crossed for May 17."

New members are welcome to come and try the first three sessions for free at Sleaford Indoor Bowls Club, Visit www.sleafordindoorbowlsclub.com/ for more details.

It's a similar picture at Horncastle & District Indoor Bowls Club, where the committee also installed a air ventilation system during the latest lockdown to comply with government guidelines.

Committee member Lyn Ulyatt said: "We had to reduce our rinks from five to four to maintain distancing and masks became mandatory along with the rest of the country.

"We had to have automatic hand sanitizer and take people's temperatures on the way in, and people seemed happy with what we were doing."

The club is hopeful that once they are allowed to reopen in May, all of their precautions will put the minds of their members, both current and prospective, at ease that they will be safe.

Any one interested in joining Horncastle & District Indoor Bowls Club should call the clubhouse on 01507 522147 and leave a message with their contact details.

For some self-employed fitness instructors, those who were not eligible for government funds had to find a way to not only keep their clients engaged but also make ends meet.

Karen Gilbert runs Total Balance Pilates classes in Market Rasen's New Life Church, but when lockdown hit last year, took to running her classes via Zoom and also works part-time in Tesco to make ends meet.

"It's been tricky though," Karen said, "Because a lot of my clients are older and live in rural areas where the internet can be an issue and doesn't support Zoom, so I've lost quite a few of my clients.

"Without my job at Tesco I'd have been really stuck as I fell through the cracks to receive government funding."

As pilates is better when your instructor is on-hand to help you with your form, Karen said that she's had to adapt her teaching style while conducting her classes online, but she's hopeful that her clients will return once she's able to run classes in the church hall again.

"It's been good running the classes online, it's been a good way to keep everyone motivated and we can have a giggle, which I think we all need at the moment."