huf gym

This gym in Mississauga has decided to stay open during lockdown

Family-owned boxing gym HUF Gym has been operating at Dundas St. and Cawthra Rd. in Mississauga for nearly 25 years, but like all fitness centres in Toronto and Peel, has been shuttered for much of the past 13 months.

This latest iteration of lockdown that the province went into on April 3, though, has left business owners wearier and less willing to comply than ever, with at least three establishments in the province making the brash move to serve customers in defiance of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) in recent days.

HUF has now joined these businesses, deciding to officially open its doors to members on Tuesday.

But perhaps unlike some of the restaurants that are seating maskless patrons indoors and out, HUF is continuing to abide by the restrictions it was operating under when it was allowed to remain open in grey zone lockdown, as sports clubs were .

"We're practicing safe protocols: screening people, giving everybody their sanitizing bottle and their wipe, we're making sure everything is really clean," says HUF co-owner Teresa Heron, who says she's received a lot of support from the community.

"It just doesn't make sense that a big box store can stay open and let in hundreds of people and I can't let 10 or 20 people who can safely social distance and disinfect everything that they're touching into my place of business?"

Heron strongly believes that people's physical health in general is something that should be prioritized amid the pandemic, along with their mental health, which for many is suffering drastically under lockdown.

Boxing, she said over the phone as enforcement officers waited outside her business's doors, is a proven stress and anxiety release, and a way for people to feel better physically and about themselves.

"With what's going on right now, people need an outlet. People in the community need somewhere to come in, feel safe, work out and be able to keep their bodies and their minds strong and healthy to be able to combat this virus." 

Thus far, HUF has yet to face any enforcement action stern enough to warrant closing — something that many have been criticizing the government for as businesses continue to brazenly flout the rules that most are following to help try and lower COVID-19 case numbers and prevent ICUs from overfilling until vaccines are more readily available.

But, like Adam Skelly and Adamson BBQ, the business could face steep fines under the ROA that would take them to court to fight.

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