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Some Vancouver indoor group fitness studios to reopen after COVID-19-related shut down

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Nov 15, 2020 at 5:41 pm PST

(Courtesy facebook/OTFCanadaInc)

A provincial health order issued Nov. 6 forced the closure of facilities offering 'indoor group activities'

orange theory fitness has been given the go-ahead to reopen four studios in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — After having COVID-19 safety plans approved by health authorities, some indoor fitness facilities will be reopening in Vancouver Monday.

After submitting an updated 82-page operations manual, Orange Theory fitness has been given the go-ahead to reopen four Vancouver locations, but those in the Fraser Health region will remain closed.

A provincial health order issued Nov. 6 forced the closure of facilities offering “indoor group activities” such as yoga, spin classes, and the kind of group training offered by Orange Theory.

Blake MacDonald oversees operations in Canada, and says the sudden closure has been challenging for staff and clients.

“It’s been tough, really tough on our operators in the Vancouver market. All of our locations were forced to close suddenly, and they’ve got to keep all of their staff on board because we’re not sure when we’re going to be able to reopen again so there’s no time to lay them off and then bring them back,” he says.

“It’s been difficult, we’ve been working with a lot of the authorities, the different health authorities to make sure that we have good reopening plans.”

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Their revised operations manual includes protocols for PPE, offering mask-only classes, details about how the flow of people will be managed, and strict requirements for internal audits.

“Every square foot of the studio’s been defined in terms of what measures we had in place,” MacDonald says.

He notes there are some members who just don’t feel safe attending the studio, but says that is a small percentage.

“For the large majority of members who returned, and actually completed a class what we’ve heard is an overwhelmingly positive experience. They love the fact that we have taken this very seriously, and we’ve put all these different protocols and measures in place. Overwhelmingly our membership feels very safe,” he says.

There are 105 locations across the country, and MacDonald says there has;t been a single “spreader event.”

There’s a large range of different types of fitness facilities out there, and some facilities like spin studios and dance studios are less able to really monitor and to manage the different risks,” he says.

Fraser Health has not signed off on any reopening plans for Orange Theory studios, and MacDonald explains some locations will reopen as “100 per cent virtual” locations.

“The members will reactivate and they will complete their classes via our virtual platform. Whether we’re in studio or not we’re confident we’re going to be there for our members.”