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B.C. gyms hope COVID rules relaxed soon amid drop in business

Last Updated May 20, 2021 at 7:03 pm PDT

(Image: CityNews)

Gyms and other facilities are operating at reduced capacity to limit the spread of the virus

Fitness centres report drop in revenue, membership after new public health restrictions were introduced

Province to provide update on health restrictions next week

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s fitness sector is hoping it will soon be back to business as usual, with the province expected to provide an update on public health orders next week.

Currently, gyms and other facilities are operating at reduced capacity to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Most of our Orangetheories are running at between 15 and 20 per cent of the pre-COVID revenues and numbers,” explained Blake MacDonald with Orangetheory Fitness, which has more than a dozen locations across B.C.

He notes without classes, the number of members has dropped recently.

“These members really do rely on these classes for a sense of community and a whole bunch of other things, including not just their physical health but their mental health,” he told NEWS 1130.

It’s a similar story for Fitness World, according to CEO Chris Smith.

“Fair is a tough word, but I definitely would love to see the restrictions lifted and see everyone in B.C. get more active,” he said.

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However, Smith is hopeful change will be coming.

“Bonnie Henry stated on several occasions that gyms have done a good job of mitigating the risks and … they’re not responsible for a lot of the cases,” he explained.

In April, provincial health officials provided data that showed where the highest number of clusters and individual cases were reported. Gyms and fitness centres were listed high up on the list of workplaces with clusters. In Vancouver Coastal, they were number two, but a fairly distant second, behind restaurants and other establishments.

Under current public health orders, people are also required to wear a mask at all times while inside a gym or other fitness facility.

While restrictions around classes and capacity have had massive impacts on business, MacDonald says the mask rule has also brought challenges.

“The masking has really cost us probably about 25 or 30 per cent of our members,” he said.

Refusing to comply with the order mandating mask use can land you a $230 ticket.

While MacDonald doesn’t think mask rules will change, he hopes to see indoor classes return. Smith agrees.

“You know when you’re looking at the fitness population, we’re talking about a group of people that have the strongest immunity systems due to the fact that they’re regular exercisers and that sort of thing,” Smith said.