‘I think it is an outbreak waiting to happen’: Grimsby gym-goers concerned by influx of Hamilton visitors

·3 min read

Nathan Hann has been a long-time member of GoodLife in Grimsby, and lately has been seeing a lot of new faces at the gym on 9 Industrial Drive.

Hann, a health-care professional and pharmacist by trade, said he began noticing changes at the gym just as restrictions in Hamilton increased, limiting the number of people allowed to book appointments at gyms and fitness centres as the region moved from orange to red under the province’s COVID-19 alert system.

“When I have been going to book an appointment, I have been noticing that it has been really full and I haven’t been able to get in. I gave GoodLife a call to ask why, and they told me a lot of Hamilton people are coming down to the gym.”

The potential influx of gym-goers from Hamilton, where cases of COVID-19 are higher than here in Niagara, has Hann concerned, not just for his own personal safety, but also about the potential spread of the virus across regions, as people living in areas with higher restrictions travel to cities with fewer limitations.

In Niagara, which currently sits in the orange ‘restrict’ category, a maximum of 50 people are allowed in gyms at a time, while in Hamilton, the number is 10.

Hann said he has already seen the impact first-hand.

“I know people who usually go to the Hamilton location, they are all coming to the Grimsby location now, because they can’t get into the extremely limited appointment slots available in Hamilton.

“My concern is that if they keep doing this, then Niagara is going to get hit even harder than we already are.”

Tracy Matthews, vice-president of operations for GoodLife Fitness, said with gyms in Hamilton still open, the company has currently not placed any restrictions on members, and which locations they may choose to visit.

"Gyms in Hamilton are not closed, and we did not ask Hamilton members to limit travel because their gyms are still open.”

Matthews did add though that in previous situations where gyms have closed in certain regions across the province such as the GTA, GoodLife has placed members living in those areas on a temporary freeze, asking they refrain from visiting clubs outside of their region.

With gyms and fitness centres still open in Hamilton though, GoodLife members are free to travel to other locations in Grimsby, or anywhere in Niagara where booking an appointment is easier, and spaces are more plentiful.

Of course, that could change if Hamilton is moved into the lockdown measures currently seen in the GTA, or if GoodLife updates its policies as conditions develop, something Matthews said is possible in the future.

“We will continue to review and update policies and procedures where needed to ensure we are providing our members with the best experience possible while meeting or exceeding government and public health protocols in relation to health and safety."

In the meantime, Hann said he will continue to take all safety precautions necessary, including wearing a mask at all times, and keeping distance from other members, adding that he continues to see potential public health risks with a system that puts people in a position to move from region to region during a pandemic.

“The virus is not going to spread on its own. It is only going to go where people take it. By putting people in a position where they travel outside of their region, it is really just creating the possibility for more cases in Niagara.”

Story behind the story

With COVID-19 restrictions being increased in Hamilton, reporter Bryan Levesque looked at the impact on gyms in Grimsby, where some have concerns that an increase in Hamilton visitors could lead to further spread of the virus in Niagara.

Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News