So, the great nation of Ireland once again finds itself in a full lockdown. People woke up this morning finding themselves out of work or their businesses closed once again. Now with Christmas only around the corner and the dark rainy evenings coming in this is an extremely stressful time for many up and down the country.

While we can all debate if a lockdown is a good solution until the cows comes home, we won’t do that here. We’re a sports website and try to be an outlet away from Covid-19.

But today I do want to touch on a Covid-19 related issue.

Everyone is different and everyone has a different way they like to unwind and relieve stress.

Some people like to get their hair or nails done, others like to go shopping and plenty partake in sports as their outlet. For all those people suddenly their outlet of enjoyment is gone for at least six weeks.

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People Need An Outlet

I can be honest and say my outlet is gone but I’m more fortunate then many.

Anyone that is a regular here on the Big Kick Off will know I’m a massive League of Ireland fan. Rightly or wrongly the league is still going ahead and will finish the season and us fans have the option to see all of this play out on WatchLOI.

But many of my fellow League of Ireland fans will agree with me that’s as great as it is to have that service, it’s just not the same.

The social aspect is missing and for many that’s their favourite part of going to games. I know personally that some weeks that’s what got me by, knowing that I’ll get to go and see my mates and watch my team play on Friday.

Millions of people across the country can relate. Yes, there are more important issues going on right now, but people will struggle without their outlet.

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Are Gyms Essential?

However, the one thing people can’t seem to agree on is if our gyms should remain open.

Gyms are another outlet for people. It’s also a livelihood for others with people owning independent establishments and others making a living as personal trainers and such.

It’s just another industry that has been negatively impacted by Covid-19.

But it’s the industry that is receiving the most debate heading into this lockdown.

Everyone sympathies with people in the retail, beauty, and hospitality industries but there isn’t much fight back to get these places classed as an essential service by the public at a large level.

However, that’s exactly what’s going on when we are talking about gyms. There is even a petition going around to get gyms classed as an essential service by the Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly with the petition almost reaching 50,000 signatures at the time of writing.

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Essential At This Time Of The Year

It’s a proven fact that exercise has a whole host of positive physical and mental benefits. Out of the two of them it’s the mental health benefits that people are pointing towards when making an argument to keep the gyms open.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that starting to go a gym saved people’s lives. A quick look into any comment section debating this matter will show you that. The routine and the feel-good factor you get after a gym session can really help people even on their darkest of days.

Suicide is another horrific pandemic in this country. Now as we come into these winter months the fear is the number of deaths by suicide will just keep going up.

Suddenly, it’s dark outside around 5pm. People are starting work in the dark and ending work in the dark whether that be working from home or in an essential service.

Ireland in the winter months only means a consistent run of bad weather. People might not want to go on a walk or jog out in the cold or the rain. For some people they don’t feel safe going out in the dark.

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People Need Different Things

Some people don’t get anything for just walking or jogging. Their idea of a workout could be weight training or a specific class they attend. Others get motivation out of other people and personal trainers.

Simply buying some gym equipment may not be feasible. People may not have the space or money to buy the equipment that they need.

Also, for people working at home the visit to the gym is a vital part of their day.

Getting up and going to a different environment and having other human interactions besides talking to the same people at home or at work. This all benefits people much more than working out at home or taking part in online classes.

Everyone is different and everyone does different exercises depending on their needs.

Again, if I may get personal for a second. I enjoy walking and jogging whether that be alone or with my dog. I get good benefits out of it and when I get home, I feel good that I done it.

Even I understand not everyone works that way. What works for me doesn’t always work for other people and vice versa.

People really do use gyms as a combating for mental health. Others use it for physical benefits and for social interactions. It really does help different people looking to achieve different things.

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The Obvious Benefits

So many industries are struggling, and people’s livelihoods are at risk due to Covid-19. People are out of a job and it’s a very worrying time for a lot of people and no industry should get special treatment over another.

Like I said earlier different people have different outlets of enjoyment. But when talking about peoples mental and physical wellbeing in this one lad’s opinion that must be essential.

Even if the gym isn’t your thing, we can’t undervalue how important it is to other people. It’s scientifically proving to create happy hormones for lack of a better term and boosts our immune systems. It would be ignorant our parts to look someone in the eye that uses the gym to improve their mental wellbeing and tell them to get over it.

I will hold my hands up and say to this point in my life I have never truly struggled with mental health. I’m not an overly anxious person and besides bad days like we all have I’m blessed that I don’t struggle mentally. Like many people I do have people near and dear to me that struggling daily.

Some of those people use to gym as their outlet and would be lost without it.

This Will Make You Go to the Gym More | Real Simple

To Answer My Own Question

I don’t want to seem to be ranting endlessly and I’m not saying I’m right. This is an opinion piece that hopefully can start a civil discussion.

Of course, opening gyms will have its pros and cons.

You may fear if gyms open the floodgates will open and other industries will demand to open.

I have seen people argue that people are using mental health as a crutch in their argument to get gyms open. That once you throw mental health into an argument it’s game over and people use this to their advantage. I might not agree but I respect the views of others and its okay to do that.

If we can open the gyms in a manner that makes staff and customers feel safe in their surroundings then yes, we should open the gyms in Ireland.

I will sign this off with this simple statement. It might not be your thing and that’s fine. But as a nation it helps a vast amount of people and gives them positivity when they need it the most. In my opinion that has all the hallmarks of something essential.

Stay safe during these trying times and be kind to each other.

Gym? What's a gym? : TheSimpsons