A gym held a grand reopening this week, welcoming fitness-lovers to a new outdoor workout space complete with physical distancing measures and sanitization stations, despite the fact that gyms and fitness clubs aren't listed as businesses allowed to reopen under Ontario's Stage 2 plans.
According to Kirstie Kipp, sales manager with the Xanadu Health Club off of Patillo Road, the facility worked with members of the Lakeshore bylaw department, as well as OPP, to establish rules and restrictions for the outdoor space.
"The government really hasn't let us know much of what we can and can't do," Kipp said. "So we had to call our local bylaw officers, local OPP and kind of figure out what our restrictions would be to move everything outdoors."
The local bylaw department told CBC News that they don't provide approvals for such instances, adding that Xanadu was advised to seek guidance from the region's health unit.
Kipp said staff spent hours moving equipment into an outdoor space covered with turf and protected by a tent.
"We've gone ahead and moved everything we could think of outdoors," Kipp said, adding that it took about 15 hours to set up the space in preparation for reopening on Monday.
"We kind of threw it all together."
The space has lines painted using spray paint to mark six-foot distances, as well as eight sanitization stations throughout the facility.
"Every single machine actually has Virex at the machine," Kipp said. "When a member comes, in we actually hand them their own rag, and they will use that ... throughout their entire workout to wipe down each machine."
Visitors are being asked to wipe down machines before and after use, and Xanadu has retained a cleaner on staff at all times.
"We're completely sanitizing everything every night as well," she said. "We do have portable potties out here as well. Those are being maintained and cleaned hourly, with Virex as well."
Kipp said visitors won't be required to wear masks, despite the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's (WECHU) order calling on businesses to prohibit patrons without a face covering.
"Gyms were not on the list of places that needed to wear masks, in addition, you don't need to wear a mask outdoors," she said. "We're completely outdoors right now, therefore a mask is not needed."
A WECHU spokesperson told CBC News in an email statement that the health unit "is not able to comment on any premise until we inspect the situation and speak with the owner or operator to ensure they are in compliance with the provincial order."
Nonetheless, a spokesperson said in a separate email statement that "any gym in violation of the provincial order could be fined," adding that the opening of gyms with public health measures in place is "to take place during Stage 3."
Additionally, outdoor recreational facilities — including outdoor fitness equipment — are supposed to remain closed as part of Ontario's Stage 2 framework.
Kipp said the outdoor space is able to hold about 70 people, though Xanadu staff plan on allowing fewer than 40 people to workout at a time.
Though Xanadu does have a membership fee, Kipp said that the facility is currently charging both guests and new clients $15 per visit.
"Our members have not been charged anything at all," she said. "Everything is status quo. They're not being billed and will not be billed until we can move inside."
According to Kipp, the response to the facility has been "pretty good," adding that approximately 50 people had come to workout by Monday afternoon, with "hundreds of calls coming in."
"There hasn't been much promotion out there, so it's great to see that we have had a pretty good turnout so far," she said. "We're hoping that we can get the word out more."
Should interest exceed the current outdoor's space capacity, Kipp said staff are willing to convert parts of Xanadu's parking lot — which can hold 500 vehicles — into additional workout space.