A GYM owner has spoken of her relief after being given a date she can reopen her premises after more than three months of lockdown.

Last week, gyms were told they can reopen again, with restrictions, from July 25.

Susan Spinks, who owns First Step 2 Fitness in Darlington, said: "It's been a nightmare having no date and there being no mention of it.

"We've continued on Zoom and we're up to 25 classes a week doing that, and we've started car park workouts, which have been crazy.

"But it will be good to open again." She added: "It's going to be very different and we're going to have to teach a bit differently but we can get around it."

Government guidance says gyms must take steps to make them Covid-secure, including encouraging customers to shower and change at home, limiting the number of people using the facility and reducing class sizes.

Ms Spinks has spent about £50,000 on the premises during lockdown, some of which came from a government grant.

Among the changes are getting rid of the sauna and steam room, and using part of the changing rooms, to create a third studio to cater for more, smaller classes.

A new floor is also being installed, which will make cleaning easier, and the gym has bought new equipment, as well as installing a system to improve ventilation.

Ms Spinks said: "We are kind of ready but it's a case of making all our members feel safe.

"From the 23rd we will open up for drop in sessions to show everyone the changes we have made and we will be ready to open on the 25th.

"I'm excited and I'm ready to get back to normal. My biggest fear is that we reopen and have to go back into lockdown."

Class numbers will be reduced from up to 100 to about 40 and they will be streamed using Zoom so people can still take part from home if they prefer.

"About 90 per cent of people are excited to get back and can't wait," said Ms Spinks.

"But there are 10 per cent who are still worried and will still be doing Zoom."