Jacuzzis and steam rooms are ‘a thing of the past’ for Ben Dunne Gyms

Gym owner says he will be doing well if half of his 10 gyms reopen

Ben Dunne: It’s impossible to socially distance in a swimming pool.

Ben Dunne: It’s impossible to socially distance in a swimming pool.

 

Jacuzzis, steam rooms and swimming pools are “a thing of the past” in Ben Dunne’s network of gyms as a result of Covid-19.

The well known businessman said on Wednesday that he will be doing well if half his 10 gyms reopen as he implements his own safety protocols.

In an interview, Mr Dunne ruled out pools, jacuzzis and steam rooms featuring in any reopening. He said: “No more swimming pools, jacuzzis,  steam rooms – they are gone. A thing of the past because you can’t socially distance in them – impossible.”

Mr Dunne shut his 10 gyms within hours of the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announcing the first wave of restrictions on March 12th, and he admits he doesn’t know when his gyms will be reopening. It could be two years away, he said.

Mr Dunne’s gyms employ 90 and have 53,000 members.

“We closed down on March 12th and I have no idea when we are going to reopen.”

Mr Dunne said that last year, the business recorded revenues of almost €14 million and had operating profits of €4.3 million.

“The business was going fairly well and I was happy with the performance and it was flattened out, for want of a better word, by the virus.”

The Government’s roadmap for exiting lockdown foresees gyms reopening from August 10th in a safe manner, but Mr Dunne said he doesn’t believe a two-metre rule is safe for anybody near somebody running on a treadmill. 

“I must get over the first hurdle – and that is how to make them safe – and a piece of perspex glass is not the answer.

Lifetime

“It took me 20 years to build the business up to 10 gyms. I don’t think in my lifetime – I’m 71 now – I will have 10 gyms reopened.

“I think I will be doing well if half the gyms reopen because of the stance I am taking on safety because I do think that people’s lives do matter.”

He added: “I’m not going to have a business or a club where it is not safe for people to be working out in.” 

Mr Dunne said he was thinking about people’s lives rather than the economics of reopening. Mr Dunne said that all members will get their membership money back if they haven’t been able to use their membership because of Covid-19.

“It is their money. They have paid for membership. If they don’t get use of their membership, they will get their money back. They need not worry, We will give it back – that is definite.”