Toronto gyms told to close for another month just as they were about to open again
As Ontario heads into a new blanket lockdown, gyms in Toronto are once again trying to cope with another month of uncertainty.
Gyms have been closed since Oct. 10, and before that were only open for about 14 weeks on and off at a reduced capacity.
Therefore, it shocked no one on Monday when the government extended the lockdown restrictions for fitness centres.
"We weren't surprised to hear about the continued lockdowns, and that's what we've prepared for over the past month," said social media and marketing manager Sharon Xie of Toronto's Sweat and Tonic.
"This is our third or fourth lockdown but I was equally as heartbroken," said Kelly Taphouse, owner and founder of Move Fitness.
Hone Fitness CEO and owner Jim Solomon told blogTO that while he wasn't surprised either, it was a blow nonetheless.
"I didn't expect to reopen with the cases the way they were but the whole situation is disappointing," he said.
"The times we've been open have been very difficult. People have been concerned about being indoors and weren't coming enough. I get it, but I guess all in all it hasn't been that great when we've been open and certainly not great when we've been closed. It's been difficult since March 18 either way."
"We're continuing to fight the good fight but living every day with this level of worry and fear and anxiety and this unfair treatment from the government, it gets to your well being," added Taphouse, talking about the ongoing frustrations she's faced as a business owner.
"We're buying time until we can ramp up our adult fitness again."
Xie echoed the sentiment of the ongoing struggle of staying in business.
"We're a small business and have been open for a little over a year and physically open for only a few short months in this year," she said.
"Burnout, lack of motivation, stress, and anxiety is very real right now, and the unpredictability of what will happen in 2021 is hard on people. It's also unrealistic to expect small businesses to remain closed for very long; we've seen fellow fitness studios close down here in Toronto. A huge part of what we do is build community, and this includes other studios too, so it worries us to see others who have the same goals as us suffer."
As we head into the new year, Solomon and Xie aren't confident much will change.
"I have a feeling 2021 will still be challenging for us. I'm hoping toward the later part of the year the consumer sentiment will be much more positive but I don't think were back to 'normal' until everyone is feeling safe and there's no negative news out there," said Solomon.
"Of course, we hope to be back in-studio in the new year, as soon as we can safely do so but our industry has fundamentally changed, and won't be going back to how it was before," added Xie.
Taphouse, meanwhile, is a bit more optimistic.
"I'm hopeful when the vaccine is rolled out to more and more people in Ontario we can see alot of the restrictions ease up and open up our gyms again," she said.
And even though Sweat and Tonic is cautious, they're now looking to the future with new eyes and have even found a bright side to the past few months.
"The silver lining in all of this has been our expedited timeline for virtual offerings," Xie explained, adding that they've been investing in camera equipment and their video platform to create live and on-demand virtual workout content.
"The pandemic has really shifted the way the fitness industry looks and our goal is to continue innovating and evolving to give our community what it needs. Now is our chance to show how community built from individuals working together towards a common goal can be done virtually."
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