Croydon gym owner responds to repeated police checks despite not breaking lockdown rules
Croydon gym Hard Fitness in Hamsey Green has endured countless police checks during lockdown despite not breaking Covid restrictions.
Owner Martin Dilworth, 57, has faced lots of negative comments accusing him of keeping his Limpsfield Road gym open which has led to police check ups.
Mr Dilworth has tried to take this in his stride, making the officers cups of tea each time they turn up and while they’ve gone away satisfied no rules have been broken some of them have also been tempted into signing up for post-lockdown workouts.
“Amazingly I’ve got two police officers who are going to train with me when this is over,” Mr Dilworth said.
“As a thank you for their service I’ll train them for a month.”
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The gym has been subject to abusive comments on Facebook and the latest police visit came on Wednesday, January 20 when officers were satisfied “no breaches had taken place”.
Mr Dilworth told MyLondon the only people entering Hard Fitness are the staff delivering online personal training sessions, or those offering outdoor one-to-one personal training sessions in the car park which are within the lockdown guidelines as you are allowed to exercise with one person outside your household.
The gym has particularly come under scrutiny and suspicion since the windows were covered up.
However, Mr Dilworth has explained there is an innocent explanation – he wants to keep his expensive equipment, worth £250,000, out of sight when the gym is empty.
Despite receiving nasty comments online, Mr Dilworth doesn’t blame those complaining.
He said: “To mitigate the people that are being unbelievably negative towards me and my gym, I know they’re not having a good time either. Everybody that’s complaining about me, they’re unhappy.
“The simplistic view to take is, if they’re unhappy, they want everybody to be unhappy.”
Mr Dilworth says he does not let the negativity get to him, as his priority is providing “an hour of respite for his clients”, who are struggling with different issues in their lives, made worse by the pandemic, through online or outdoor sessions.
He added: “Covid ironically has made my phone ring off the hook. I deliver people into a better state than they were.
“This time frame [of lockdowns] has created a huge mental health issue with probably most of us. No one is saying they’re okay. Everybody is saying they’re not okay.”
The gym owner believes that exercise can be a powerful tool in helping both your physical and mental wellbeing, and his work focuses on helping those struggling with substance abuse problems.
He said: “I’ve put 25 years of my life into this.
“These people [complaining] want me to stop doing the thing that will protect everybody? Why?
“People need help and support and that’s what we provide. Nutrition and hydration understanding, portion control, discipline in regards to alcohol, drugs.”
Martin explained that it has been frustrating having so many visits from the police, as being right on the border between London and Surrey means he’s had visits from both the Metropolitan Police and Surrey Police.
“[There’s been] massive confusion, [the two police forces are] not talking to one another,” he added.
However, he says that his dealings with the police have all been very positive.
“The police are coming in, looking around, seeing that we’re doing positive things with our time to help people, and going out happy,” he said.
“Every time they come in they’re all happy.”
Martin added that those leaving the comments on Facebook are “malicious and unhelpful”.
He said: “But the only good thing from this nasty hate and bullying is that [other] people are seeing that and reaching out for me to help [them].
“We will keep you fit for your whole life.”
A Surrey Police spokesperson said gym staff “were complying with all current covid regulations” when officers visited on Wednesday afternoon, January 20.
The spokesperson said: “Although the gym falls under Met Police jurisdiction, our officers did visit HARD Fitness, in Hamsey Green.
“On arrival our officers were satisfied that the staff were complying with all current covid regulations and that no breaches had taken place.”
The Metropolitan police have also been contacted for comment.