A DUMBARTON gym owner has hit out at the lack of support given to the country’s fitness studios after they were given the green light to reopen.

Jamal Hashmi, owner of the Energie Fitness branch on the town’s High Street, told the Reporter how the announcement of gyms reopening in Scotland has come too late for many independent gym owners.

On Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon announced that gyms, swimming pools and indoor sport courts will be able to reopen at the end of the month.

The First Minister told Holyrood she was bringing forward the reopening of the facilities, which were previously expected to open in mid-September.

Jamal said: “Our industry has been given very little support from the government.

“We do not have 50 per cent meal vouchers or 15 per cent VAT cuts.

“We have been left to pay our rent, services and debt in full while we have been closed and unable to generate income.”

He said the gym closure has already cost his business more than £160,000 – and that will rise to nearly £200,000 by the time he’s able to reopen.

He said: “It has been nothing but a massive financial stress for me, my family and my business partner. We are feeling really left out.

“I have no choice. I have got to go with what I have, whether that includes continuing to rack up more debts, because I refuse to let this business fail.”

All gym equipment is two metres apart and classes will have no more than 12 people.

Slots must be booked in advance, whether for solo workouts or for fitness classes or sessions with personal trainers.

Jamal continued: “The problem with gyms is the sheer size of them.

“To keep them paying bills whilst they are closed is unfathomable, not to mention the number of people who have cancelled their memberships as they have been scared partly due to the government announcing them as dangerous places for Covid-19 spread, despite any evidence to suggest this.

“Everybody knows who we are. People appreciate being able to talk to others including staff, but they have been scared by the Scottish Government about Covid-19.”