Saturday morning at 8:30, on the rooftop “Tino Hogendijk Sports and Fitness” in Välardingen. Coach Marco Sage (51) hits things off even more. “Take it easy, boys,” he calls out to my exercise bike on either side. The bloated men follow his orders with a meek smile. But this is not enough. After a few seconds: “Four, three, two, one… Yes, good guys! That’s good!”
The sound of a house echoes in an almost empty nearby parking lot. Not too loud, but at a modest volume, so as not to disturb the locals on a Saturday morning. After about twenty minutes, the hard lesson on the rooftop was over and the participants got off the bike panting. Changes are made in a way that meets RIVM standards. First, the prepared athletes come off the surface, then the prepared athletes come out on the surface. No, it’s not perfect and the “real” math lesson isn’t really like that. They weren’t here on the roof before. “But we can take it up with Mark Root and take that literally today,” says Tino Hogendijk, 74, head of this small independent gym in a suburb of Vlardingen. He lifted exercise bikes with a winch.
Last Monday, the national activity of the gyms in which he participates was laid down, a day before the press conference. It quickly turned into a storm: This weekend, more than 340 independent gyms are participating, according to figures from VES, the federation of exclusive gyms.
Panic is increasing
The participating gym has been open in Vlardingen since 1974. Going to the gym was not popular at that time, but it is different now. Nationwide there are three million members. This business now also has several hundred members. Hojendijk suspects that all of these athletes have been suspended for months, with all the ensuing consequences. Because how will these members come back if something is allowed again? “You must know how many times I’ve heard from our clients that their doctors are happy with what they’re doing here about the exercises.”
In active gyms there is only a feeling that this contribution to health is not taken seriously. “I also notice that in the group app we created as gym owners: Panic is growing. Melancholy is growing in me too. This gym is my life’s work. Never before have I seen this slip through your fingers so easily, while you feel like: Damn, is that Is it really necessary? Exercise is healthy. Immediately.” This is also possible and safe. For members, but also for the gyms themselves.
According to owner Hoogendijk, the number of businesses that have run into difficulties is not that bad. But if this takes another six months, a battlefield will arise. You can’t miss it. I can manage myself, we still have fat in our bones after all these years. But of course this does not apply to everyone. Plus: All subscriptions are frozen, so our customers don’t pay for their membership now. Some do, who want to keep paying to support us. But this won’t last forever.”
Despite this uncertainty, he continues to fight. Of course he says he can’t do otherwise. “Who wants to take over this job now?”
On Saturday morning, coach Sage’s instructions regarding the empty Vlardingen car park continue to ring. “People who exercise are less likely to get sick,” he says, as he kicks hard on his roller coaster. : “Movement is also an outlet for many people. This takes a long time.”
The new group of two athletes is hurtling towards the rooftop. There is coffee in the basement, and the friends of Vlardingen meet again at a distance of one and a half meters. Many of them have not seen each other since the lockdown. According to gyms, the social aspect of the gym should not be underestimated. “We have members here in their 80s who suddenly lost their rhythm,” says Tineke Hoogendijk (71), wife of the owner Tino. She says this is close to her heart. “The ladies at the front desk now all have a fixed list of people to call. Just to see how it goes we notice some members are really getting down on the blues. A phone call makes you happy again. You should know how it went first: These members came to exercise, Then they drank a cup of coffee. This was a meeting place. The gym is a social network not to be underestimated.”
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