ontario gyms opening

This is when gyms are opening in Toronto

Gyms in some parts of Ontario have been closed since as far back as early October, only briefly able to resume outdoor fitness classes as part of revised grey zone restrictions in March before being shut down, and then again two weeks ago as part of Step 1 of reopening.

But now that the province is entering Step 2 of its new 3-step framework next week and has even surpassed the vaccination rates for graduating into the third and final step, many are wondering when gyms will finally be able to open their actual doors and welcome their extremely patient members inside again.

Starting 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30, a whole spate of changes are coming provincewide (save for in the region of Waterloo), including the reopening of shuttered businesses, loosened restrictions for operating businesses, and additional freedoms for the public, such as larger gathering limits and an end to the moratorium on indoor get-togethers.

Unfortunately, as much as those who have been itching for a proper workout for months may have hoped, fitness facilities won't be able to resume indoor operations just yet — and the same goes for bars, restaurants and cafes, who will still only be able to offer outdoor patio service in Step 2.

But, gyms can increase the number of people in outdoor fitness classes, from a 10-person max in Step 1 to any number in Step 2, so long as participants can maintain at least three metres (no, not the usual two) of distance between them.

Professional athletes part of a national sport organization are granted an exception to this rule, and can train outdoors or indoors with stringent health and safety measures in place.

For the rest of us, though, we will not be permitted inside gyms until Stage 3, which is, according to the plan, due to start a minimum of 21 days after the commencement of Step 2: so at 12:01 a.m. on July 21.

But, the province has permitted early progressions into both Steps 1 and 2 (albeit only by a few days), which meant contravening their own 21-day rule in the latter case.

The province confirmed that there will be only "approximately" 21 days between the onset of steps, adding in a release on Thursday that we will "promptly" move to Step 3 "when it is determined to be safe" — which could indeed be earlier than expected.

Once that happens, all gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, yoga and dance studios, sports domes and more will be able to welcome residents back inside, with restrictions in place.

These include but are not limited to maintaining at least two metres between guests (unless they are playing a sport), volume limits on music, and capacity limits for certain settings and acitivities, ranging from 10 to 100 people.

A few gyms in the province have been fighting back against months of devastating forced closures by opening to members anyway in contravention of lockdown orders.

"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," a co-owner of one of said facilities, family-owned HUF Gym in Mississauga, told blogTO when it reopened on its own accord in April.

"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."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez at KX Coffee & Gym


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