Victoria gym owners eager to reopen amid COVID-19
VICTORIA -- It’s been weeks since indoor gyms and recreation centres were ordered to shut down by Island Health. Some boutique gyms in Victoria say they’ve come up with creative ways to keep their members safe but are still eagerly waiting for the green light to open back up.
“I am like a caged animal ready to get out and ready to roll,” says Wesley Wood, owner of Limitless Training.
Membership is down 70 per cent at the gym, even though it has tried to adapt to the current pandemic.
“It’s definitely been a big hit,” says Wood. “We haven’t received any rent relief.”
Alex Mueller, co-owner of CrossFit Zone, says they’ve moved classes online and are doing their best to support their members.
“We at this point don’t have a date to open, we are just waiting to hear more,” Mueller says. “We were ready and we have lots of plans but need to find out what the criteria is to reopen.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says it could be a while before gyms reopen, saying transmission of the novel coronavirus has occurred at such facilities.
“Even those smaller facilities need to have an appropriate plan in place, and they need to really look at the business model that they have and their ability to keep people separated in time and space so that we're not having groups of people in there together,” said Henry.
Smaller gyms like Limitless and CrossFit can accommodate smaller class sizes and spread out with ample room.
Island Health says it is still working to determine reopening dates and protocols for gyms.
“Island Health’s public health team is actively involved in conversations around considerations to lift the order and allow those businesses to reopen in a safe and consistent way that would minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the health authority said in a statement.
“We’d just like some solid dates so we can plan, that is the key,” says Jason Ball, owner of Body Dynamics Headquarters in downtown Victoria. “There’s been no way to plan ahead.”
Ball says the gym has been struggling amid the pandemic. A GoFundMe campaign was created by his friends and family to help.
“We are ready to open but we haven’t heard what the mandate is, and how we are going to open, when we can open and what is going to happen, there has been nothing really said,” says Ball.
Ball, Mueller and Wood all say they will put limitations on class sizes and increase cleaning at their facilities.
Fitness studios like Annex and Spinco say they are currently working on plans to reopen but are waiting for guidelines from the province.
“I am hoping something comes out in the next week or so,” says Ball. “I see a lot of baking going on and a lot of treats... It’s a good stress release to be able to get in the gym and get those endorphins going and be able to work out again would be a huge boost for Victoria.”
An update is expected from Island Health in the coming days on an exact date of reopening. Until then, gyms will remain closed under the order by Island Health.