gyms open toronto

Gyms in Toronto still not sure when they'll finally be allowed to open

Fitness experts often stress the importance of variety when it comes to working out, whether to avoid boredom, prevent injuries, blast through plateaus or all of the above.

Is it possible to exercise effectively without ever hitting the gym? Sure — but it's a lot harder to do without the access to so many different types of classes, machines and equipment that come along with a gym membership.

After nearly four months of endless outdoor cardio sessions and the occasional Instagram pilates class, many Toronto fitness studio regulars are missing their gyms something fierce.

Some of us were hopeful that our local clubs would reopen alongside restaurant patios and hair salons this week when Toronto entered Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan at long last. No dice.

Gyms across Ontario remain under the same mandatory closure orders that have been in place since early Spring, after Premier Doug Ford first declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19, and they'll be closed until... well, nobody quite knows when.

Under Stage 2, "personal physical fitness trainer and sports trainers" are permitted to conduct business again — but not in gyms. Current regulations literally specify that fitness professionals can work "outside of gyms only."

The government's reopening framework document states that, in Stage 3, "Ontario will consider... opening gyms, indoor sports facilities, fitness facilities and studios with public health measures in place, such as limits to the number of people, floor space, equipment, showers and change rooms."

Nobody yet knows when Stage 3 will hit, but the country's largest fitness chain has already pushed back previously-announced reopening dates due to the uncertainty.

Goodlife Fitness, which earlier this month told members that its clubs in Northern and Eastern Ontario would reopen on June 29 (with gyms in Southwestern Ontario to follow on July 6), sent out an email update on Wednesday stating that gyms would not in fact reopen next week and that the business does not "have a new date to share at this time."

Goodlife Fitness Public Relations Manager Adam Roberts told blogTO that his company is "keeping a close eye on updates from the provincial government" and that "Associates are hard at work to ensure The GoodLife Standard is fully implemented and we can provide the safest Club environment and best experience possible when we receive approval from the Ontario Government to reopen."

Not all gyms are alike, however, and some fitness pros argue that they shouldn't be treated as such when it comes to deciding when a facility can reopen.

Jonathan Wiseman, founder and head trainer at Toronto's OBF Gyms, isn't happy to see boutique training facilities like his lumped in with "big box gyms" like Goodlife Fitness, which have massive membership numbers.

"We already limit our capacity to offer an exclusive experience to our clients, and with ample space are able to physically distance with ease," he said on Wednesday to blogTO.

"Stage 2 has stated that physical fitness training can occur but outside only, which is odd. It's the summer — what if it rains out or what if it's just too hot for some of our clients to workout outdoors on a given day?" he continued.

"Not only have we been restricted from operating our business for 3.5 months now, but now we are at the mercy of the weather too?"

Wiseman, like many business owners across all types of industries affected by the pandemic, says he feels that a facility should be permitted to open if it's able to prove that it can follow the guidelines given to other businesses under Stage 1 and Stage 2.

"And not knowing when Stage 3 is coming makes it hard for us to prepare, project and organize ourselves as businesses," he noted. 

"Any good business is proactive instead of reactive, but the government is forcing us to act reactively every single week which is very challenging."

"We know that in Alberta, gyms were originally set to reopen in Stage 3, yet they ended up being moved to Stage 2," said Wiseman. "I wonder why?"

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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