Active recovery

Gyms are finally reopening, but how they operate can vary from one operation to the next

Photo: Hybrid Fitness

AS OF FRIDAY, it’s finally true: gyms are back in business.

After months of closures, fitness facilities will be allowed to restart indoor activities as part of Ontario’s Step 3 reopening, albeit at 50 per cent capacity.

The facilities themselves are being given a lot of latitude in terms of what restrictions will be required for participants. Some will allow you to go maskless (the government orders don’t require one), while others will want you to keep your mask on. At some you will need appointments, while others will take walk-ins.

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“As far as things that are mandatory right now,” says Hybrid Fitness gym owner, Tommy Caldwell, “everyone needs to be wearing masks in transition, when you enter the gym and when you exit; anything that’s not direct exercise, you’re supposed to be masked.”

As a private membership gym, he says he is comfortable letting people work out unmasked. “I don’t want to force our members into a situation where they’re uncomfortably breathing,” he says. “It still leaves the choice in the hands of the members.”

Caldwell says Hybrid Fitness is capping their capacity at 50 people (less than half of their 125 person capacity) — something he hopes will help rebuild confidence in fitness spaces. “That’s good for us. People have been away from the gym for a long time,” he says. “More space is better.” Extra space, he says, means extra confidence for anyone who might be wavering.

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There is a sense that this iteration of ‘gym re-opening’ won’t be as tenuous and conditional as they were previously, with cases going down and vaccinations going up.

“I think there’s three fairly distinct groups of people — there’s the people who never cared or who want to exercise so badly that they’d come back no matter what,” Caldwell says. “Then you have the people who are sitting on the fence … and then there’s the people who have been fairly fear-stricken by the whole situation, which is understandable. So as those [vaccination] rates rise, I’m sure people will feel much more comfortable getting back into the gym.” Active recovery gyms COVID-19 Kieran Delamont

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