gyms ontario

People are leaving Toronto to work out at gyms in the suburbs

In the five days since gyms were shut down in Toronto and Peel over surging COVID-19 transmission rates, hundreds of local fitness buffs have discovered a hack that ensures they won't have to skip even one leg day.

Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for people in the neighbouring regions of York, Durham, and Halton), the idea is more "hacky" than "hack" — and one so dang obvious that fitness clubs are already taking steps to thwart it.

As it turns out, you can't simply drive from your home in Brampton to a GoodLife Fitness location in Mississauga for a sweat session, not even if you have the type of membership that gives you access to all of GoodLife's five zillion gyms.

Residents of Peel, Toronto, or Ottawa, where modified Stage 2 restrictions are in place until at least Nov. 7, are either strongly advised not to visit clubs outside of their own regions, or straight-up prohibited from doing so by way of membership freezes and ID checks.

GoodLife, LA Fitness, and Orangetheory Fitness are among the chains that have now taken action to prevent people who live in COVID-19 hot spots from using their facilities in other regions, whether proactively or in response to a flood of boundary-crossing members.

This hasn't stopped people from trying to get around the rules, of course...

Or from freaking the heck out upon learning that their memberships have been temporarily frozen.

Regular members of gyms in regions surrounding Toronto have reported a marked upswing in wait times since Canada's largest city was pushed back into a modified version of Stage 2.

Some credit this phenomenon to people from hot spot regions skirting the rules or ignoring public health recommendations, but it's of note that fitness chains are actively working to stop this kind of behaviour.

"Update: I tried to go to the gym again and they flagged it because my home address is Toronto," tweeted one local resident. "Sooo no more gym uggh."

"Because I live in Toronto, my GoodLife membership has been frozen," wrote another. "Markham/Durham/Peel Regions, please grant me access! I can feel my (mini) gains withering away..."

In a statement sent to local members, LA Fitness asked people from Ontario's three hot spot regions to stay away from gyms outside of their own jurisdiction.

"To be clear, if you reside in a 'hot spot' region, we must ask that you not travel to visit LA Fitness clubs in regions outside your own during the temporary closure," it reads. "Let's all work together to promote health and safety during this public health crisis."

The California-based chain went on to say that it had "already frozen the membership status for all members located in these higher transmission areas."

CTV reports that an Orangetheory Fitness club in Markham has similarly put systems in place "to prevent people from those hotspot regions from attempting to book a workout."

GoodLife, the largest fitness chain in Canada, has said that it is "reviewing member's accounts on a case by case basis."

"Following the recommendations provided by the Ontario Government, GoodLife is strongly recommending Members from Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto not visit other GoodLife Clubs in regions outside of their own during this temporary closure," wrote the chain in response to an irate member on Twitter Thursday morning.

"Due to the Government Announcement made last Friday, we did place any membership on Freeze for locations that went back into Stage 2," reads a reply to another person.

"Appointments would have been cancelled in this region."

Lead photo by

Adam Hummel

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