When Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness reopened its doors on Monday with new COVID-19 protocols, John Sardinha was one of the first people back.
“I can’t just go running in the streets, I’m not that kind of person. I need a closed space, like a gym environment,” Sardinha told Global News.
He’s one of thousands of gym members in British Columbia navigating the new normal as fitness clubs reopen amid Phase 2 of the province’s pandemic reopening plan.
“They are really prepared for this, everyone is keeping everything really clean,” he said.
Gyms were not closed province-wide by provincial health order, but several health authorities issued their own closure orders. All B.C. gyms were cleared to reopen in mid May.
WorkSafeBC has created COVID-19 protocols for fitness centres, covering issues from physical distancing to sanitization to keeping showers and locker rooms safe.
Club 16, one of the province’s larger fitness chains, has reduced capacity by requiring members to book their workout times online or through an app.
It has also brought on extra staff, including a cleaning crew, and members are also expected to sanitize equipment before and after using it.
Staff wear masks and gloves, and members are expected to keep two metres apart.
Club 16 co-founder and former Canucks star Trevor Linden said members have been receptive to the changes.
“They understand what this has to look like, people get it,” he told Global News.
“Being in grocery stores, going to the gas station, the coffee shop, that social distance is a bit of a way of life now.”
Linden said the last several months have been tough, but that the company remains in a solid financial position.
Vancouver’s Dynasty Gym also reopened Monday with similar precautions.
The company is also requiring members to pre-book their workouts to keep the gym at half-capacity, and acknowledged it hurts the bottom line.
“It affects it dramatically,” he said.
“We’re happy to get the gym going and get cash flow flowing in again, but once again it’s a different thing to figure out the new normal and make it work for the business.”
The company is continuing to offer online workouts for members who remain cautious about coming back.
“Physical fitness is tied to mental well-being,” he said.
“A lot of our members, not being able to go to the gym, actually felt — they could be depressed, anxiety, just missing the spirit of what the gym provides, not just physically.”
But Kam said many members have been quick to return, adding that for some the social aspect is as important as the workout itself.
Back at Club 16, Sardinha said the limited time slots mean he’s been more efficient with his workouts, forsaking some of the time he’d usually spend socializing or using social media.
And he’s encouraging other fitness fans to head back for their workouts.
“If you feel like coming back to the gym, you should come back to the gym, just be aware of the protocols that you need to comply with and everything is going to work properly,” he said.
“And also do your part. If everyone just cleans before using and after using (the equipment), it’s not going to be a harmful environment to us.”
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