Like all such establishments, Whanganui's ReVitalise Natural Health and Fitness Centre had to close completely through alert level 4 lockdown. Even now, there are restrictions on numbers and spacing in the gym.

Throughout this time, ReVitalise clients showed the love.

"I've been very touched by some of the kindness that clients have shown," says owner Audrey McCosh.

One client renewed her membership, getting the usual renewal discount. When she saw how much the discount was, she insisted on paying the full amount, to help out.


Some clients renewed their membership early. Others kept their membership active even when they could not use the gym.

Payment at ReVitalise is by automatic payment (AP), not direct debit, so the client remains in control of outgoings.

"You can stop your payments at any time: there's no contract," says Julie McMaster.

Julie divides her working time between Mainstreet and ReVitalise. "Also, Audrey spent most of her time in lockdown ringing nutrition clients, gym clients and staff. That's a lot of people."

Audrey and Julie also kept up an online presence, keeping their clients engaged in a number of ways.

"We called it the Virtual Gym," says Audrey. "We never got bored during lockdown: we worked the whole time."

They included nutrition, recipes, instructional exercise videos using things in or outside the home — even road cones!

"People went two ways during lockdown: they embraced it and got out and exercised or they got depressed and anxious. It was important that we as a team at the gym kept in touch with everyone," says Audrey. "We tried to keep them motivated."


Now, under alert level 2, things inside the gym are different.

"We've got [spacing] marks on the floor, moved the equipment further apart, contact tracing ... basically, you come in and at the door you get your own cloth and your own bottle and you use it while you're exercising to clean the equipment," she says. "The staff and myself are cleaning three or four times a day on top of that. We've asked that clients all bring a towel and their own water bottle."

Audrey had people coming in especially to see what procedures had been put in place, even though they weren't ready to work out just yet.

"When it's busy, like at 6am or on the weekend, we are wandering around making sure people are not getting into each other's space."

With a limit of one person in the changing room at a time, clients are asked to assist by arriving in their gym gear.

"We're doing a 21-day challenge for anyone who has put weight on over lockdown, so it's 'kick Covid in the butt' with a 21-day nutrition programme with three weeks in the gym," says Audrey.

The programme started during lockdown with nutrition advice and at-home workouts.

She says regular clients are easing back into workouts after time away from the gym.

"Our keenest client is 75."