After 80 cases of COVID-19 were linked to an outbreak at a Hamilton spin club earlier this month, gyms and fitness centres in Grimsby are taking note, and doing their part to ensure doors stay open, and members stay safe.
Tamara Hine, owner of Complete Fit on Robinson Road N, in Grimsby said she took steps after the outbreak in Hamilton to change protocols at her gym, which offers a number of in person Pilates and yoga classes.
“Since the spinning incident in Hamilton, I have put out an email to my clients because I do want to keep my gym open, so we are tightening up our numbers a little bit. Just making sure, if you don’t walk in with your mask, you don’t come, and reminding people constantly we are doing our best.”
Hine said she is also considering lowering the number of people in each class moving forward into November. Currently capped at 10, including the instructor, Hine said she will most likely reduce class sizes even further to 8 or 9. A move Hine said Complete Fit was already considering, even before the spin class outbreak earlier this month.
“I would rather reduce the class sizes I offer than have to shut down again. Just so we can maintain our social distancing and do our best to keep the gym open.”
Hine said Complete Fit doesn’t offer spin classes, and promotes alternate activities such as Pilates and yoga that allow for members to still participate in a traditional gym setting, while still safety distancing.
“I think some of those classes where there is a little bit more sweating and yelling, I think the risk is a little bit higher than doing yoga on the floor.”
At Curves Grimsby, owner Connie Eisinga said the Hamilton spinning outbreak also led her to make some proactive changes at her gym, making masks mandatory for all members while working out, something Eisinga said, members have been very understanding of.
“The protocol right now in Niagara is that you don’t have to wear a mask while working out. About 50% of my clients are fine with wearing a mask, but after what happened in Hamilton, I took it into my own hands and made a policy that says everyone has to wear a mask working out.”
Both Hine and Eisinga said one of the measures they have taken as owners is to schedule workouts in a way to create mini bubbles for members who come to classes or sessions once or twice a week.
Hine said it is one of the benefits smaller gyms like hers enjoy over some of the bigger gyms on the market, and something she has taken advantage of to ensure the safety and comfort of her members.
“We are not Goodlife or the YMCA where we have hundreds and hundreds of clients. I have a core group of clients, so its usually the same groups of people that come to the same classes, and they kind of create their own bubbles, which makes them feel comfortable.”
Eisinga said at Curves, the small dedicated client base has also created a sort of bubble group. With work out times being scheduled before hand, most members only interact with the same people week after week.
“Those people are kind of in a bubble, because they work out with the same people in every time slot. The same people come at 7 o’clock, or 8 o’clock. It is working out really well that way.”
While neither gym offers spinning classes, both Hine and Eisinga said they remain skeptical of the safety of spin classes at the given time.
Eisinga said in her opinion, the high perspiration activity shouldn’t be on the table at all.
“The whole concept is to ride faster, and breathe harder. You aren’t allowed to sing in church, but you have a spin class going without masks. That is just absurd. “
Still, with daily COVID-19 cases across the province rising, and gyms and fitness centres in hotspot areas already shut down for a second time, there remains a degree of uncertainty about what will happen, not only in just the coming months, but almost of a day to day basis.
For Complete Fit and Curves Grimsby, all owners and clients can do is to continue to follow the health and safety protocols in place, and act responsibility so that gyms in Niagara can safety remain open.
Hine said, if that means class sizes are limited by one or two, everyone should do their part to be proactive and ensure gyms can continue to be a safe place.
“We want to prevent that here, and are trying to take some proactive steps. If it is two less people, and you have to pick another class that week, that is better than not having any classes at all.”
Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News