There has been a renewed interest in physical activity since the reopening of the Raymond Terrace Squash and Fitness Centre in October, following a two-month shutdown period due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Centre manager Phil Jenkinson admitted this week that he was unsure whether members would return to the fold after the centre's second forced COVID lockdown in two years. The centre caters for a range of health and fitness activities including squash, gymnastics, martial arts and yoga classes.
"We were a little apprehensive about what would happen this time round, we knew that most of the regulars would be back but we were unsure how many newcomers would return, particularly in the martial arts and yoga classes," he said
"As it has worked out we have seen a great bounce back in numbers across the entire centre.
"Simone from the ShimShakti yoga studio was able to maintain contact during the COVID restrictions with her members through zoom classes, which made it easier for members to come back once we were able to reopen our doors.
"Likewise the martial art and kickboxing classes run by Michael and Natasha have resumed with renewed interest and they are seeing an increase in numbers week by week."
Jenkinson said that the squash activities - both competition and social - had picked up where they left off without a hitch.
"We have most of our juniors - aged seven to 17 - back on the courts on a Monday afternoon, while the Monday night senior competition is in full flight with 40-plus players each week.
"A more flexible, social competition is conducted on Thursday nights which is open for newcomers. It has around 30 members and kicks off from 7pm. New members are always welcome."
Jenkinson said that the Port Stephens Street centre would be hosting a Hunter region junior training camp early in the new year (January 9) where kids will be provided the opportunity to come along and try squash for the first time.
"In addition to the many health benefits, squash can be a lot of fun and can be enjoyed by males and females of all ages."
One of the centre's youngest members, Jack Jenkinson (Phil's son), aged 15, is a rising star in the sport and he regularly takes on the more senior and experienced members at Raymond Terrace. He can even be seen playing against the centre's oldest member, 83-year-old Derek Ray.
Jenkinson said that the shutdown allowed staff to undertake some maintenance work and tidy up the place to ensure the centre remains COVID safe into the future.
Anyone interested in participating in any of the sport and fitness classes, in addition to the squash social competition, can telephone Phil Jenkinson on 4983 1350.