Gyms happy to welcome back members during step three of reopening plan

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The day has finally come for gyms across the county that have been anxiously waiting to reopen their doors to the public.

On July 16, Ontario moved into step three of its reopening plan, allowing personal fitness and training to reopen at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity indoors.

Elora Fitness and Performance Centre and Erin Fitness officials are among those excited to reopen after more than three months with empty spaces and unused equipment.

Fitness advisory team lead for Elora Fitness and Performance Centre Tyler Emidio said in terms of preparation, the reopening hasn’t been much different from the previous ones they’ve gone through.

“Our standards in our gym haven’t really changed all that much,” he explained. “We still have various sanitizing protocol in place for our members as well as our staff.

“We’ve made restrictions on capacity to promote social distancing within our facility. We’ve stuck with our strict health protocols and guidelines we have for our members and for our staff, so nothings really changed for us.”

As per public heath protocols, distancing is still required and masks remain mandatory when entering or exiting the gym, moving between stations and when in public changerooms or washrooms.

Both Elora Fitness and Performance Centre and Erin Fitness are encouraging people to wear masks when exercising at a station but are allowing them to be removed during periods of high exertion when it may be difficult to breathe. Members will be required to put their masks back on after that period ends.

“It’s been kind of hectic,” Emidio explained. “Over the span of this lockdown, we’ve had members contacting us looking forward to getting back in the gym, but unfortunately at those times didn’t have much information for our members, so it was very difficult for us.

He added, “Once we got the okay we’ve just be preparing again.

“No one’s been in the gm for a long period so we’ve just been prepping, cleaning, sanitizing, making sure everything looks tip-top for when our members could come back.”

The Elora gym will continue to have a booking system online which will include 90-minute sessions with a 30-minute gap in between for sanitizing.

The centre has set its maximum capacity number at 25, and while Emidio noted it could have allowed more, the facility wanted to be on the safe side.

He explained while the centres capacity is set at 25, they’re limiting members to 18 to allow for additional space if people want to come in and look at memberships or get a tour.

“So, we have it limited to 18 with some leeway but we are keeping that booking system because it’s easier to track numbers and the usage of the facility as well,” he said.

“Also, a lot of members like that they can see the busy times in the day, and they can pick and choose when they’d like to come to the gym and use the facilities.”

Emidio said he’s looking most forward to seeing members again, noting there are several in particular with whom he’s missed interacting.

“Working here I’ve built a lot of relationships with our members, so I definitely look forward to seeing them and catching up with them again,” he said.

“Most of use haven’t had much interaction in the past couple months so that’s definitely something that I’m looking forward to.”

Erin Fitness co-founder Christine Deemert said the reopening, while exciting, is something they’re well versed in going through after the past year.

“It feels the same to be reopening but its excited to get to see people again,” Deemert explained.

“I walked in this morning and saw faces I haven’t been able to see in so long. People also continued to make membership payments while we were shut down so that’s been huge for us.”

Although the Erin gym has been open since the April lockdown under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Deemert said the facility is excited to reopen its doors to the general public.

With the size of its space, Deemert said Erin Fitness is allowed up to 29 people, but have limited it to 15 for now to err on the side of caution.

Online booking is available for 60-minute sessions and people are also allowed to book two time slots together for back-to-back sessions, Deemert explained.

Erin Fitness is also offering outdoor fitness classes, but Deemert noted they do have the ability to move inside if needed.

“We’re most looking forward to seeing people’s smiling faces and taking care of their physical health with us again,” she said.

“We’re excited to see people we haven’t seen, some of them in over a year.

“We’ve been here for like six years in the business and we see these people every day and it has been hard not seeing them all the time.”