More COVID-19 restrictions added to fitness sector

Effective immediately, all indoor group physical activities are suspended temporarily while new guidance is developed. These activities include gymnastics, dance studios, martial arts, yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning and cheerleading.

In the days after new pandemic-related health orders were implemented late last week, many fitness studios were able to adapt to the new rules and remain open, including Kamloops Hot Yoga, No Limits Fitness and Orangetheory Fitness.

While hot yoga, spin classes and group fitness classes were suspended in the Nov. 19 order, other group activities — such as dance classes, martial arts and cheerleading — were allowed to continue with approved COVID-19 safety plans.

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But that changed on Tuesday with a revised order mandating all indoor group physical activities be suspended temporarily while new guidance is developed. These activities include gymnastics, dance studios, martial arts, yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning and cheerleading. The order states such venues must use the new guidance to update and re-post their COVID-19 safety plans before resuming operations.

Gyms and recreation centres that offer individual workouts and personal training sessions can remain open if they follow their safety plans.

While Kamloops Hot Yoga and No Limits Fitness turned their hot yoga sessions into regular yoga workouts over the weekend, those, too, will need to be temporarily suspended.

Orangetheory Fitness, meanwhile, is known for its high-intensity exercise classes. It remained open by reclassifying itself as a gym. Orangetheory manager Tara Sales explained that members book allotted gym time slots similar to how they would book a class in the past and Orangetheory provides equipment for people to use at their own discretion. Members have the option to scan a QR code to access a wide range of workouts provided by Orangetheory digitally.

“Members come in and scan and they run through templates on their own,” Orangetheory manager Tara Sales said. “A coach can’t actually coach them. Members have to coach themselves now. You’re coming in and working through it on your own.”

Orangetheory also decommissioned some equipment and reduced capacity. Cleanliness continues to be a top priority, with Sales noting members have communicated desire to attend the studio for that reason. For those who don’t feel comfortable coming into the studio in person, however, Orangetheory will in the next couple of weeks be offering a new online platform, with live coaching.

Meanwhile, Oxygen Yoga and Fitness Kamloops owner Dina McLeod told KTW through tears after the announcement that she was “devastated” by news of the order prohibiting hot yoga until at least Dec. 7.

“It is a gut punch like I didn’t expect,” she said.

McLeod said the studio has closed and she worries about her clients’ physical and mental well-being.

“We have people on chemotherapy who come in for infrared therapy because we’re an infrared heated studio,” she said. “We’ve got people who struggled with their mental health during the closure. That’s why I taught a bunch of classes live for free just to stay connected. I don’t know how some of these people will do.”

McLeod is also concerned about her finances. She said the studio was already operating at half capacity, despite overhead remaining the same. It also closed for 77 days in the spring, due to health orders, from mid-March to June 1. Her 15 staff mostly work at the studio on the side of full-time jobs.

McLeod, however, said she has already put everything into surviving the first closure, including leaning on credit cards. Adding to the stress is uncertainty. She doesn’t know when she’ll be allowed to reopen.

“I don’t know how we survive it,” she said. “I don’t know if they reopen us in two weeks. She [Dr. Bonnie Henry] wasn’t very clear.”

Samantha Gibson, who owns K-Spin downtown on Seymour Street, said she will comply with the order, but would prefer to keep her doors open with enhanced COVID-19 measures in place.

“I do think it’s extremely unfortunate,” she said. “I also teach at Barre Kamloops and I know that both the studios have extremely high standards in their cleaning and screening of clients. We’ve been open for the past six months with no transmission. Yes, it is a risk, but I feel like there’s something to be said for the safety protocols we have in place.”

Gibson, who opened her studio three years ago, shuttered K-Spin for more than three months earlier this year during the spring COVID-19 wave. Since re-opening, the studio has been running at 50 per cent capacity — 10 riders at a time.

“It already has hurt our business,” she said. “We’ve been running the last six months at half capacity. Being a small business owner is tough enough in these times, but running at half capacity — we’re thankful to have strong support from our clients.”

When the pandemic first closed K-Spin’s doors in March, Gibson rented 10 of her 20 bikes to clients, keeping a sliver of revenue coming in each month. She said she’ll do the same again.

“It’s better than nothing,” she said. “But, again, I do feel like it’s a risk you should be able to take, like going to the gym or going to the grocery store.”

Henry also introduced a new order mandating mask wearing in indoor public and retail spaces, including employees and customers, except while eating or drinking at a table. When entering a business or leaving the table, masks must be worn by customers. Masks need not be worn at desks at workplaces, but must be worn by employees when they move about the workplace. The order does not apply to children under the age of two years old.

Events, including art shows, music and theatre performances, movie theatre screenings, performative arts, and similar events are prohibited.

In addition, all social gatherings must be restricted to household members — those in your “core bubble” — only. Social gatherings of any size, even outdoors, are prohibited.

© Kamloops This Week



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