Gyms across regional Victoria will re-open their doors from Saturday in a move that's been labelled as highly significant for people's mental wellbeing.
Outdoor and indoor swimming pools, excluding spas, saunas and steam rooms, will also re-open with limits while hydrotherapy and swimming lessons can start up again.
"It's pretty exciting," Nic Conway, owner of Wodonga's PT Fitness, said.
"Along with the stress levels as a business owner, I know there's concerns amongst members who certainly need to see friendly faces and get moving again.
"For that reason, in particular, it's very pleasing.
"The last few months have been hard. It's been a rollercoaster for Victorians, going in and out of these lockdowns for the last 18 months.
"I know a lot of our members come to the gym because, one, they want to get physically fit and healthy but two, the mental health aspect of coming to the gym is really significant.
"It's a fact that when you exercise, it releases chemicals in your body that make you feel better so the adverse effect of not being able to exercise is pretty significant.
"When we're going through this period in our lives, we need to get moving, whether that's at the gym, playing community sport or going for a walk."
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Conway's members have been able to train in the gym's outdoor area this week and he's thrilled to be opening the doors after the latest set of stay-at-home orders.
"This time, it hurt more than ever," he admitted. "Every time you read an article, it's not the straw the breaks the camel's back but it's starting to get pretty close.
"It's ironic. We speak about how beneficial exercise is to people's mental health but it seems to be the first thing that's shut down when we need it the most.
"We're looking forward to going back indoors as soon as we can."
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