GYM closures across the borough have sparked outrage among their users who feel statistics don’t back up the ‘baffling’ government decision to shut their doors - potentially leading to a negative spiral of both physical and mental health.

Following the new national restrictions imposed last Thursday, all gyms and leisure centres were forced to close in order to prevent a ‘medical and moral disaster’ for the NHS.

However, this has left many gym users reeling at the thought of not being able to use facilities until at least early December - which could leave many in Barnsley negatively impacted, according to a Carlton personal trainer.

Kienhan Powell, 21, of Wood Lane, has been a personal trainer since last November and admits that the first lockdown took its toll on his own mental wellbeing.

He told the Chronicle: “When the government first locked us down it was because we didn’t have the figures to show how the virus was transmitted but now we do.

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“Closing gyms which are keeping people healthy when the virus generally affects those that are unhealthy will do more harm than it will good.

“You’ve also got to look at harm it will have on small businesses like my own - when the first lockdown hit, I basically had no wage so financially I took a big hit.”

Kienhan feels that the mental health rewards from the gym are just as great as the physical gains, and with gyms now set to close for a month he believes the repercussions will be there for all to see.

“I know that a lot of my clients suffer from anxiety or depression, and my sessions are an outlet for them to speak to someone,” he added.

“There are more issues than Covid at the moment as well, you’ve got to look at suicide rates, mental health and obesity figures - obviously coronavirus is important, but so are they.

“A lot of people that have come to me for the physical benefits of the gym but have then stayed because of the mental health benefits.

“I’d never really had any mental health problems myself and I think that’s because of the gym, but as soon as first lockdown hit I saw myself struggle - this decision will make more people struggle with mental health.”

Figures provided by NHS Test and Trace show that gyms were the sixth-highest reported setting for positive coronavirus cases as of October 29 - the gym’s proportion against all other common locations reported was just 2.8 per cent.

“The number of positive Covid cases in gyms are low compared to everywhere else,” Kienhan added.

“There’s a petition and that’s had more than half a million signatures so it’s clear that people are passionate about this.

“I’m also qualified in sports massage and I’m still allowed to do that which is baffling when I’d be in close proximity to someone in comparison to the two metres at the gym.”

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, added: “I am acutely aware of the huge physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits that exercise provides and I share the concerns about the government’s decision to close gyms throughout this latest period of lockdown.

“Millions found solace in exercise during the first lockdown, but as we enter the cold and dark winter months, it is increasingly more difficult to exercise outdoors in the same way it was back in spring & summer and many would not feel safe doing so.

“I applaud the exceptional work that gyms across our region have carried out in the last few months to ensure individual and group exercise can take place in a Covid secure way and transmission levels in gyms and exercise spaces has remained low throughout the pandemic.

“I will continue to press my concerns with the government at every opportunity on the impact these closures will have on our region’s physical and mental wellbeing.”