Consecutive COVID-19 lockdowns have meant Warrnanbool's Nikki and Bear Dixon have had to rethink their dream of running their gym business together.
The past two lockdowns has cost the couple 10 weeks worth of lost income and has forced Nikki to go out and get a second job - not just to make ends meet but to prepare them for any future closures.
Last year's extended lockdown, and tough restrictions, meant their Up and About Fitness business was cut back to just 30 per cent and they were left without any government assistance.
"We had to operate outside so we lost all our pre-dawn clients, the elderly, disabled, they couldn't train for five months," she said.
They have had to tap into their savings and superannuation to get through - using some of it to build a home-based gym in their backyard because they were optimistic about a post-COVID future.
"We put everything we had, energy, time and money into this and with each lockdown it's just feeling more and more ominous, the future of gyms," she said.
It was only during this past lockdown that they were eligible for government support because of rule changes to GST.
Nikki said if it wasn't for the change, the impact of the latest lockdown would have been diabolical for their finances.
She said each lockdown felt like another nail in the coffin of their dream business.
"You feel helpless, and we are. But we're not alone. There's other businesses like us," she said.
But the couple are trying to stay positive.
"We've been hit hard," she said. "But we are hopeful. I don't want to be pessimistic.
"We just want to look on the bright side. Every lockdown that comes, we will attack it with all the energy and passion that we've got. We're prepared for them now. We were shocked with the lockdowns after the big one."
Nikki said that because the lockdowns kept coming, they had to come up with a plan B.
"Sadly the days of being in the same business together and supporting each other and growing a business which we have done for 15 years, that's over," she said.
"I've had to go out and get work to try and have some income coming in.
"But this is gym is our true vocation. Our focus can't be solely on our passion anymore."
Nikki said now they had a taste of repeated lockdowns, they had to change the way they planned for the future.
"Every business has contingency plans for if we get sick or injured and we can't work. That is always there, but now we have lockdowns thrown in which is going to impact us should they keep continuing. We just have to be smarter about it."
The couple said in between lockdowns, however, their business had thrived and continued to grow as their determination to run a small but successful business remained unshakeable.
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