Gym goers in Northern Ireland have spoken of their relief at returning to their workouts.
As gyms across the region opened following lockdown, the first classes at a Belfast chain were oversubscribed.
GymCo owner David Conlon said he welcomed his first clients back through the doors at the Cityside and Finaghy gyms at 6am on Friday.
He told the PA news agency: “We had our first class at 6.15am and there was a huge demand for it with both classes in each gym full. We had 20 people in the spin class and another 20 people on the waiting list.
“Everybody seems to be enjoying being back training in the ‘new normal’ environment.”
Q Radio presenter Ibe Sesay was among the first back on Friday morning, describing missing his regular workouts as one of the most challenging elements of lockdown.
Over lock down as a family we exercised outside but you just didn't get the same motivation as you do going to a gymIbe Sesay
“I was pleased to get back, it’s been a long time coming,” he said
“It was difficult initially and it’s going to take a long time to get back into it.
“Over lockdown as a family we exercised outside but you just didn’t get the same motivation as you do going to a gym and being in that environment, it spurs you on more.
“Training helps not only the body but also the mind as well, it wasn’t easy at home.
“I was working the whole way through lockdown, training and staying active helps with the motivation.
“And then while in lockdown, we were eating more, a lot of takeaways and not so good food, and drinking much more if I’m being honest so those added calories need to go.”
Mr Sesay said he noticed his energy levels being lower, getting out of breath more quickly and lower strength levels.
“It’ll take a while to find that flow again but I’ll get there,” he added.
“First thing everyone was saying was, ‘it’s good to be back’, and it is definitely.
“I was a bit apprehensive about how many people would be in the gym, but within five minutes of walking in and seeing the familiar faces, you feel at home again pretty quickly.”
Mr Conlon said their steam rooms and jacuzzi have remained closed, while capacity has been reduced to ensure two-metre social distancing, while extra sanitising stations and new mats have been installed.
“The shower facilities are open but we have closed every second shower for extra social distancing,” he said.
I think gyms are one of the safest environments to be inDavid Conlon
“The feedback is very positive so far, everyone is very happy, feeling safe.
“We are very lucky because of the space we have in each gym so we haven’t had to reduce any equipment, just had to space it out to two metres apart.”
He said staff have been working to ensure their database of members is up to date in case of any potential cases of coronavirus coming to light.
“We have a full database of all our members and when they have been in the gym which gives a lot of traceability,” he said.
“I think gyms are one of the safest environments to be in.”