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Toronto gym forced to permanently close due to lockdown funding loophole

When Jonathan Wiseman opened up the second location of his OBF Gyms branch in the Upper Beaches in late 2019, he had no idea that his gym would only stay open for a total of five months before closing for lockdown.

After fighting for his business for over a year, Wiseman recently made the decision to throw in the towel.While his first location downtown will remain open, his Upper Beaches gym is now officially closed.

The business's first tax year fell into 2020, despite the fact that it opened in 2019.

One of the requirements for government relief is that a business must have taxes filed from 2019 or earlier, which made Wiseman unable to access the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan, or any loan for that matter.

"The government should have given businesses the opportunity to speak and come up with solutions that work cohesively with the government, as well as the medical community," he said. 

Wiseman told blogTO that he also spent a large amount of money updating the gym to meet safety standards, including installing a temperature checker, plexiglass and PPE despite the constant closures.

The gym was also open at a limited capacity, and Wiseman says his patrons complied with safety regulations such as wearing masks and physical distancing.

"Everyone just wanted to get back in the gym," he said. "They were willing to do whatever it took."

It's no surprise that exercise creates a positive mental state for a lot of people — in fact, many studies have proven that excercising reduces depression and anxiety. In a time where most people are locked in the house, working out can be the one thing that improves a person's mood.

"I wish governments were willing to hear small businesses out instead of just allowing big-box stores to be open," Wiseman said, noting that there were no outbreaks of the virus at his gym. 

After being closed due to lockdown for well over 300 days, Wiseman has since started a GoFundMe page for the financial losses that he and his employees have endured.

Lead photo by

OBF Gyms

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