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The charitable trust which runs LiveArgyll has described the ‘amazing’ reaction it has received as it begins to welcome users back to its leisure facilities including Campbeltown’s Aqualibrium.
Kevin Anderson, general manager, also paid tribute to the ‘formidable effort’ by staff in getting the facilities open on the first allowable date.
Leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools are among the most recent facilities to be allowed to reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased in Scotland.
They were given the green light to resume from August 31, two weeks earlier than had been expected, and while many facilities across Scotland remained closed until September 14, LiveArgyll reopened as soon as it was possible to do so.
As a charitable trust, LiveArgyll, is not run for profit. While some trusts have highlighted that it is simply not financially viable to reopen in the current climate, LiveArgyll – with support from Argyll and Bute Council – says it put the health and wellbeing of its community ahead of the significant costs and the economic uncertainty of the current situation.
Adapting venues to meet social distancing requirements also comes with significant financial pressure and is an extremely complex exercise.
A spokesperson said: ‘We’re working hard to provide as many services as possible in the soft opening phase and we’re hoping that our members and pay-as-you go users continue to support us as we continue to expand opening hours and programmes in the coming weeks and months ahead.’
LiveArgyll runs 28 venues and services across Argyll and Bute including leisure, libraries, archives and museum, halls, Active Schools and Sport Development, community centres and community lets.
A small number of services are now up and running including leisure, a new click-and-collect library services in the six large town libraries, outdoor pitches and Active Schools.
The charity says reopening the venues was a ‘big and complex task’ which involved bringing staff back from furlough, many of whom needed extensive training before starting work to ensure a safe environment for all staff and customers alike.
Gyms and fitness classes
LiveArgyll gyms have reopened and fitness classes have commenced – but users will be asked to book in advance and their stay will involve a designated booking slot length to manage the number of people in buildings and to ensure enhanced cleaning and hygiene standards can be met.
Many gyms have moved equipment to areas with more space to allow users to social distance and the feedback from LiveArgyll customers has been great so far. In several areas spin bikes and classes have been placed on sports courts or the halls to allow more room for activity to take place and ensuring all Scottish Government and industry guidance and protocols are followed for the health and safety of customer and staff.
Further fitness classes will also be added to the timetable in coming weeks as LiveArgyll progresses into phase two of its reopening route-map.
LiveArgyll, is carefully managing the initial soft opening phase based on overall demand for swimming pools. With significantly reduced capacity, a lane swimming service has been introduced for competent swimmers aged eight and over during the current week-day service. LiveArgyll hopes to extend opening hours and accommodate all types of swimming users in weeks ahead.
Under current restrictions, offering programmes such as swimming lessons and fitness classes such as Aquafit are more complex and, therefore, such services will slowly commence in phase two, as well as re-introducing the pay-as-you-go service for non- members.
Customer Caroline Sutherland said: ‘I’m really impressed with what’s been done. Got a “welcome back” from staff as I entered the building and it was great to be back.
‘There’s obviously been a lot of thought and work gone into the lay-out, one-way systems and cleaning/sanitising which has resulted in a very safe atmosphere. I’d like to thank all the staff for their hard work and looking forward to next week’s classes – honestly!’
Jackie Theaker added: ‘It is good to have the fitness classes up and running again. The staff have put a lot of work into reorganising the venue so that we can all enjoy a safe environment for our gym and fitness workouts. Thanks to you all.’
Library user Lindsay Els said: ‘I was really happy to have some new books. There were some good choices!’
Last year, as part of LiveArgyll’s commitment to the health and well-being of communities as a local charity, it introduced a new affordable leisure membership scheme. The membership is all inclusive of gym, swim fitness classes with single and family options available.
With all the positive feedback received across their facilities and confidence levels high, people are encouraged to get involved and support the Argyll and Bute charity. Their highly trained and experienced staff are always on hand to offer support with health and well-being and fitness goals.
For more information about membership, or to keep up-to-date with the phased re-opening route-map for LiveArgyll facilities and services, visit liveargyll.co.uk