A SOUTHEND personal trainer believes half of the community’s fitness fanatics still fear working out at gyms because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 outbreak affected numerous businesses across the country and gyms were forced to close their doors to halt the spread of the deadly disease.

Jacob Cleaver, who owns Jacob Cleaver Fitness and holds personal training sessions at Specifix on London Road, Leigh, feels gym owners and fitness gurus will have to contend with limited numbers for an extensive period.

He said: “It has been difficult for personal trainers and gyms since the initial outbreak in March.

“We stayed open as long as we could but when we were told to shut down we didn’t know what to do.

“When we were given the green light to re-open, we had to make a lot of changes to ensure we complied with government guidelines.


Smiling through tough times - Southend-born personal trainer Jacob Cleaver

“We have had to cut down on the amount of trainers and people in the gym at any one time.

“People have not been confident coming back to gyms since March, so footfall has dropped. I would say 50 per cent of our usual clients are still uncomfortable with being in a gym and personal training.

“It’s far from being back to normal and I cannot see that changing until possibly next March or April.”

Jacob, 27, set up his personal training business while flourishing as a non-league footballer with the likes of Billericay Town and Great Wakering Rovers.


His clients have included singer Lydia Lucy, a finalist on The Voice UK in 2016.

But a reduction in clients has resulted in Jacob having to seek another source of income.

He added: “While we were shut, we were not necessarily losing money but it was more a case of we weren’t making any money.

“I have had to get another job to try and make ends meet.


Building muscle - Lydia Lucy lifts weights during a personal training session with Jacob Cleaver

“I’m now a delivery driver during the day to make up 50 per cent of what I’m missing out on.”

A second spike in the number of coronavirus infections has led to fears a second full lockdown could be enforced.

Jacob hopes Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not shut gyms for a second time.

He admitted: “I hope the government leaves the sport and leisure sector alone because it is a release for people.

“Being without the normal gym routine has had a mental health impact on people.

“Gyms being shut and personal trainers being unavailable had a big knock-on effect.”