A Chippenham man has spoken of the devastating effect gym closures has had on his mental health.

Sam Burgess recently met with MP Michelle Donelan to discuss the topic.

He said: “I have a syndrome called Asperger's and it means I have routines that have to be followed. The gym is the second most imperative routine I have and because I've not been able to do my routine my mental health has subsided severely. I have had depression everyday and have been, to a degree, unpleasant to be around because of the ruined state my mind and mental health is in.

“Having not long since started an apprenticeship course at college, over the recent weeks I've not been able to apply myself fully to that, which means because my routine is non-existent my ability to learn and go about my day without severe anxiety is non-existent.”

Mr Burgess has added that, in his opinion, gyms not only promote a better standard of mental and physical health, but are also cleaner than other public spaces.

He said: “ I've been told that whereas educational establishments will remain open they've all had to follow a new protocol in order to keep interaction down between everyone there. However, looking at the statistics, there have been more cases of children contracting the virus from schools than there have been from people in gyms. You can't keep 1500 children 2 meters apart at all times; nor can you sanitise every chair, handrail and table between uses."

Last week, it was announced that Swindon's Oasis Leisure Centre would close permanently as operating. The impact of both lockdowns had led to social enterprise and leisure operator GLL and landlord Seven Capital deciding that the facility's future is no longer viable.

About two-thirds of gyms and leisure centres in England are in private hands, with the 2,116 council-owned sites typically run by charitable trusts on their behalf.

Mr Burgess added: “The unpleasant facts about the first lockdown is that a number of the rise in suicides were because of the impact closing the gym had on peoples' mental health. It's innocent blood on the government's hands. As each day goes by where the gym is closed my depression gets worse. My health goes further downhill and those around me have a more unpleasant experience.

“Not only has the government made the nation much lowered peoples' internal and physically health but they've cost lives because of how much damage is done to peoples' mental health conditions."

Later this afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will explain England's future tier system, and it is expected that gyms will be able to open.

However people have been warmed, especially those with New Year's resolutions in mind, not to swarm in large numbers to gyms and leisure centres once they open their doors.