Ballarat gyms and fitness studios were pleasantly surprised to be included in the new restrictions as Victoria starts to emerge from its fifth lockdown.
While previously having had to wait weeks before being allowed to reopen in a somewhat normal capacity, physical recreation and sport facilities can open subject to a density limit of one person per four square metres, a maximum patron cap of 100 people inside and 300 outside and a group limit of 10 people.
CBD group fitness gym The Underground Movement is one business to benefit from the new restrictions, being able to open back up to clients from Wednesday morning.
Owner Dylan Lesock said the announcement was unexpected as he was preparing to run classes exclusively outdoors.
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"It's unexpected because every time they've done some sort of lockdown, no matter what we've said or campaigned to do, we seem to be in the last slot opened and deemed safe without much explanation," he said.
"It's just sort of brushed under the rug, so it's really nice to be in the first round of opening."
Mr Lesock said the patron cap would not have too large of an effect on the business, but extra classes would have to be put on to cater for demand which means more hours for trainers, but no additional income.
"Our class sizes are pretty similar to cap on group fitness anyway so we should be able to cater for it quite easy and then in any sort of overflow situation, we put on extra classes or move a group outside and actually rotate through the building so that we have people working outside in zones," he said.
"We'll be somewhat profitable, but it does put a stress on numbers. It puts booking systems under pressure, and being forced to put on extra classes comes at a cost to us, not to the members.
"Where we could run four classes a day profitably, we might have to run five or six to cater for demand because of the restrictions and sort of break even on those ones."
Yoga and pilates studios will also be able to benefit from the rules. Absolute Yoga and Pilates owner Tracey Hargreaves said the new rules were 'a step in the right direction' but would not be an instant fix.
"It's pretty much the breaking even point for us, but it's still good," she said.
"Every lockdown comes with a lag afterwards, it does take people a while to get back into the habit of getting up and going to class. It's been that way like after every lockdown, we've just gotten back on our feet and then we've locked down again, so it doesn't stop when your doors open."
Ms Hargreaves, who is also a south ward councillor, said she hoped the fitness industry would continue to be included in further easings.
"Today's the first time that gyms, studios and dance classes have been included with that first step of opening, the same as hospitality and retail, so that's a really big thing because every other time we've had weeks longer. If we lock down again, I think I'd like to see our industry included with the others."
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