A GYM manager has assured the public his facility is coronavirus-safe as he appeals for support during the pandemic.

Deith Bridges, of Physique Health Club, Darlington, said the club has lost up to 500 members since last March due to gym closures during the various national lockdowns.

And despite reporting a positive reaction from gym-goers since reopening in April the business is appealing for more customers to visit and exercise in person.

Deith said: "Without a doubt the fitness industry has been hit hard over the past year due to the pandemic and like many businesses we have suffered with a high loss of members as they cancelled memberships and found ways to exercise at home.

"There has been a change in the dynamic of the gym industry and a lot of people are nervous about coming back."

The gym received support from government grants and furlough scheme but Deith admitted the businesses recovery out of lockdown has been slow.

"We're making every effort to make sure people are safe and secure and exercising in a safe environment," he added.

Physique has also signed up to the Government's Kickstart Scheme which provides funding to create new jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.

At a visit to the gym on Wednesday Darlington MP Peter Gibson praised the gym's safety measure and called on his constituents to continue to support local businesses throughout the pandemic.

Mr Gibson said: "Physique have invested heavily in developing a great facility over the course of recent months with rigorous safety measures in place.

"There are an amazing array of people and businesses driving things forward in Darlington.

"We have all suffered through the pandemic and the government has provided incredible support to businesses. They are now relying on all of us to go out there and use them and spend money in the local economy."