Gyms and fitness centres in Kamloops and the Interior Health region have been given the green light to reopen, with pandemic-related protocols in place.
An order by Interior Health’s chief medical health officer that closed all fitness centres, gyms, yoga studios and similar personal training facilities was lifted as of May 19. The order, issued April 2, was rescinded in accordance with phase 2 of B.C.’s Restart Plan.
Gyms and other fitness centres will be able to re-open as long as they can meet requirements to protect staff and clients against the spread of COVID-19. Any facility wishing to resume operation must develop a plan based on measures laid out by the Provincial Health Office.
Guidelines call for at least one staff member being present when a facility is open, with 24-hour unrestricted access suspended. In addition, the number of patrons inside will be limited, with fitness centres urged to move to a booking system.
Patrons will be screened upon arrival and asked if they have COVID-19 symptoms, while space between cardio machines will be increased and/or every second machine will be not in use. Group classes will not be offered unless participants can remain six feet (two metres) from one another at all times. Basketball courts and similar group sports areas, saunas, hot tubs and steam rooms will remain closed.
Drinking fountains will be closed, although water bottle-filling stations will be permitted if appropriately sanitized. Food service will be prohibited.
No Limits Fitness, on Eighth Street in North Kamloops, plans to open its doors on May 25.
Co-owner Justin Grover said renovations undertaken during the COVID-19 shutdown will make it easier for clients to follow health protocols.
Grover said the gym bought 2,500 antibacterial cloths and 250 sanitizer spray bottles. Each client will receive a cloth and a bottle of disinfectant when they check in. Enhanced cleaning will take place each night, as well, he said.
“Our renovations expanded our gym area by 40 per cent, so it will be easier to space out equipment,” Grover said.
The ladies-only area and the kids’ zone have also been expanded, Grover said, and a separate entrance has been built for those areas and the yoga studio.
“It came from storage rooms and board rooms and unnecessary space,” he said. “We had a storage room there since it was Malone’s [former business] collecting dust. We threw out old restaurant equipment from there.”
Temporary rules in place to help limit the potential spread of COVID-19 at No Limits include measures barring out-of-town residents from working out, doing away with free trials and keeping the saunas and steam rooms closed until physical-distancing protocols are no longer in place.
Masks and gloves are not required for now, Grover said, but clients will be allowed to wear whatever protective equipment makes them feel comfortable.
“We took this very, very seriously,” Grover said. “I want people to come and I want them to feel comfortable. So, if a mask is what they need to feel comfortable, of course they can wear a mask. If everyone’s doing their part, sanitizing before and after, and if everyone’s doing their part and staying home if they’re not feeling well, it should be safe.”
Martina Schnelle, owner of Yoga Loft downtown at Seymour Street and Fourth Avenue, said she was thrilled to hear news of fitness centres reopening.
She expects to open on June 1.
“Most definitely, because this took quite a while to figure out,” she said. “We didn’t know which category or phase we would be in.”
Schnelle said she has clients anxious to get back into the studio, but there will be changes to limit any potential spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Definitely smaller classes to have enough space in between people,” she said. “Usually it’s 30, so we will cut that in half.”
Schnelle said she also expects to have floor markings and rules prohibiting things like mat-sharing. Surfaces will also be disinfected after each class. “And just be careful to keep our distance,” she said. “I still believe that’s the most important thing. I think that’s the major thing.”
Safety precautions are important, Schnelle said, but so to will be managing the anxiety of her clients.
“You have to respect people’s fears,” she said. “There’s so much information out there. Everybody believes things a little bit differently.”
Michael Jodoin, owner of the Kamloops Orange Theory studio in Columbia Place in Sahali, said his gym will not be open for another month at least.
“I’m excited we’re starting to move into the next phase of getting things open but, to be honest with you, Orange Theory will not be reopening on Tuesday,” Jodoin told KTW. “Our level of separation is not there yet.”
Orange Theory is a group workout studio. Jodoin said the chains locations were not built with physical distancing in mind.
“We’re working with Orange Theory Canada on coming up with a structure that will work inside with the footprints we have,” he said. “Right now, with the design of the studio, it’s not designed to be a social-distancing studio.
“We’re looking at the possibility of mid-June, but that depends on other factors. A lot of that will have to do with whether gyms and restaurants that are reopening are able to stay open and not creating another spike.”