'You do get worried about a shutdown': Barrie fitness club fights on as COVID-19 restrictions continue

·2 min read

Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 29, 2020

Is Barrie fitness club owner Christy Toms worried Simcoe County may follow York Region and shutdown gyms as the second wave of COVID-19 takes hold?

The owner of HotBod Fitness in the city’s south end says she doesn’t dwell on the thought, but it does cross her mind.

“I’m thinking it won’t happen, but you don’t know,” Toms told Simcoe.com. “Last time, I never thought that would happen in my entire life. So, when it went from two weeks to four months, that was a long time. You do get worried about a shutdown.”

Toms, who opened HotBod more than six years ago, offered online classes during the shutdown and is taking advantage of Stage 3 openings announced in July.

But there’s no guarantee her business would survive a second shutdown.

“I’ve planned ahead in case,” she said. “But would we survive it? I don’t know, but I’m hoping we would.”

HotBod was on a roll before provincewide COVID-19 restrictions closed gyms in the spring.

“Last year was the best year we ever had. We’re probably down about 50 per cent revenue from what I was pre-COVID-19, which is frustrating to say the least, but you just kind of keep moving forward.”

HotBod has gone from “cramming” 30 participants in a fitness class to limits of 15, and has put several COVID-19 safety measures in place.

Face masks are essential at all times, except when a member is working out in their own space and is two metres away from others.

Toms said she decided to go even further by checking temperatures and asking symptom-screening questions before members enter.

“People want to be safe for the most part,” she said. “I think people are just happy to work out and be safe at the same time.”

Toms said she could take advantage of a new rent subsidy announced by the federal government and has accepted a $40,000 government loan.

But she is hoping she won’t have to dip into that safety net.

“At least that’s there if I have to use it. No one likes to use a loan when they’ve been in business for a while.”

Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance