• Ebony Grant at Nana Blue. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Gym owner Ebony Grant says she's scared for the future of her gym, but heartened by the support she has been offered by her community after closing her Nana Blue Fitness centre yesterday.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
24 Mar 2020 - 12:23 PM  UPDATED 24 Mar 2020 - 12:27 PM

Wiradjuri gym owner Ebony Grant has been on an "emotional rollercoaster" since Sunday night when the Prime Minister announced stricter social distancing rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

She knew it would mean she would have to close her gym, Nana Blue, which she runs with the help of her partner Mark Branigan. 

"When I first heard the news I was overwhelmed with sadness and fear," Ms Grant told NITV News on Tuesday.

"The tears started flowing and I started thinking, what if there's no way through this. But at the same time I was being flooded with support from my members and from my community.

"As a small business, that support, it helps a lot. I started making a plan for the Nana Blue."

 

The plan included applying for the $550 a fortnight in government assistance being offered and creating new ways of running fitness activities.

Ms Grant said she had to jump some mental hurdles to put this plan in place.

"I felt bad applying for government assistance when there's people out there who are physically not able to work at all," she said.

"I had to realise there was no shame in reaching out for help, we all need a bit of help at some point in our lives. 

"I also decided to create some online fitness sessions so that my members have an option to work out at home, and I'll charge a small fee for that.

"It's not just me struggling, I want to help other people who are stuck at home and fitness is a huge part of feeling good."

 

Jeffrey Morgan, who has been running fitness programs online since 2014, said now more than ever it is important for people to keep active.

"You have to keep moving, grab a buddy, keep your social distance and keep active," he said.

'There for each other'

Mr Morgan said while he's lucky to already have an established online presence, he feels for gym owners who now have to reinvent their business models, and wants to help others in this difficult time.

"In 2016, the gym I was working at suddenly shut down, so I understand what they're going through," he said.

"I feel lucky to have that online presence set up, and I can pass that onto other people. 

"It's a sad time for a lot of people. I've thrown my hat in the ring to help some set up an online presence. We've got to make sure we're looking after each other.

"That's what times like this call for. Our communities have so many health issues, we've got to make sure we're supporting and lifting up our communities.

"We have to be there for each other."

For Ms Grant, she said she's trying her best to not just keep her own business afloat but support other local businesses too.

"It's scary being a business owner at the moment whether you're open or closed," she said.

"I hope everyone has support around them. Don't try to do this alone, people will help you out. You shouldn't be shame about asking for help.

"I'm scared right now but the more I've communicated my struggle the more help that's being offered."

I didn't want to be taking payments from people when they were struggling too

Ms Grant said she has also made the decision to pause all the existing memberships of Nana Blue, despite regular gym-goers saying they'd keep paying to help keep her afloat.

"I really appreciated their support but it was best to pause all the memberships because I didn't want to be taking payments from people when they were struggling too, I couldn't live with myself," she said.

"It wouldn't be okay if I was taking money from people who had also lost their jobs and were struggling. I decided it was best to create revenue in other ways."

Ms Grant said she's overwhelmed and scared at the thought of facing weeks - or months - of closure, but will sleep well knowing that she's doing everything she can to keep Nana Blue alive.

"I'm not willing to let it die," she said.

"Hearing that we'll be potentially be closed for one month is scary enough, but not knowing if that might be six months, there's no security for us.

"It seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. All we can do is try to keep our thoughts positive and businesses alive."

'We need the money now': Indigenous hospitality businesses struggle
The owner of a small Indigenous catering company has lashed out at the federal government for what they say is a lack of support and information for businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.