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B.C. fitness industry expects membership losses over vaccine card

Last Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 11:05 pm PDT

People doing cardio training on treadmills at the gym. (Source: iStock)
Summary

Proof of immunization against COVID-19 became mandatory at fitness facilities on Monday

The Fitness Industry Council of Canada, says the last thing facilities wanted was another change to how they operate

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A spokesperson for B.C.’s fitness industry says the vaccine card requirement will definitely lead to some people cancelling memberships, but it might be just what some people need to feel comfortable resuming their pre-pandemic workouts.

Proof of immunization against COVID-19 became mandatory at fitness facilities on Monday, with entry being denied to those who can’t prove they’ve had one dose.

Sara Hodson, president of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, says the last thing facilities wanted was another change to how they operate — but they will comply, just as they have been throughout the pandemic.

“This is a tough issue and this is a tough issue for an industry that has been decimated over this pandemic where we’re seeing over a third of fitness businesses have had to close their doors permanently,” she says.

“As an industry, we are not advocating for any more restrictions on our business. However, this is the new phase. If this is the next phase for us to be able to continue to keep our doors open in fitness — serving British Columbians and making it accessible for their physical, mental and social health — then we have to do that. We are not in a position where we can lose any more revenue and any more members.”

Losing members is something Hodson has no doubt will happen. But she’s cautiously optimistic there could be a flip-side that helps offset any losses.

“Will we gain some members? There is hope, there is maybe some data¬† already across Canada that there people who potentially haven’t been participating in fitness, and maybe now are saying, ‘Hey, maybe this is the right time for me to go back.’ We don’t know that yet though, and I think that that is the biggest concern.”

RELATED: B.C. Vaccine Card: Proof of immunization now required

The industry, according to Hobson, is taking a “one and done” approach to proof of immunization. The card is verified once by a person, and the information is then sored along with other membership information.

“Fitness is a recurring membership model. Therefore, we already have gating systems and technology to support that,” she explains.

When it comes to facilities that are open 24/7 traditional business hours, she says similar protocols are in place. Once it’s been verified that a customer has been immunized, they can access the facility on an ongoing basis. So far, she hasn’t heard of any gyms having to hire security guards or extra staff to check vaccine cards at the door.

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With files from Nikitha Martins