The new normal is bringing big changes to how fitness centres and gyms operate.
Effective yesterday (May 19), Island Health’s Medical Health Officer lifted an order closing all gyms, fitness centres, yoga studios or similar personal training facilities.
It’s part of Phase 2 of British Columbia’s Restart Plan.
These facilities will be permitted to reopen provided they meet provincial requirements to protect staff and clients against the spread of COVID-19.
Any facility wishing to resume operation must develop a plan that follows safety measures laid out by the Provincial Health Office and WorkSafeBC.
These measures will have an impact on 24-hour gyms such as Campbell River’s Club Fitness, which is reopening tomorrow.
The Willow Point gym closed March 20th, and owner/general manager Laureen Hawkins says it’s been a financial challenge ever since.
“It’s crazy because a fitness facility is a huge space, so we have a lot of bills and a huge rent payment so it was really nice to see the support of our community,” Hawkins said. “I was really surprised to see how many people said that that would work for them, to continue their (monthly membership) payments and have compensation on the other side.”
When the gym opens its doors again for the first time in just over two months, Hawkins said it will be mapped out with clear markings and rules that members must follow in order to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.
Staff will also set a limit on how many members can come into the facility at one time, as well as each section of the gym.
Moving forward, Hawkins said more than ever, they’re leaning on the support of their members.
“We’re leaning on the community, right now, to continue this,” she said. “We still have very big bills and we’re going to be actually staffing a lot more people, right now, in order to implement all of the changes that we need to put in place.”
The biggest change is switching from 24/7 access to staffed hours, 5:30am to 9:30pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekends.
“We won’t be able to operate with our swipe card access and that was definitely a huge pull for a lot of people, being able to access the facility on their own,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said if there’s a silver lining, it’s how the crisis has brought the Campbell River fitness community closer together.
“The great thing that came out of all of this was how close we’ve all become,” she said. “We’ve all connected and we’re really united in this, and we’re trying to stick together and come up with the best procedures. But the togetherness is what I’m really liking, for all the gym owners.”
Guidance for facility operators and for the public related to gyms and other fitness facilities is now available on the Island Health website.