‘It’s been 100 days’: Ottawa gyms welcome people back as Ontario enters Step 3

OTTAWA — Gyms and fitness facilities across the province welcomed people back inside for the first time in three months Friday.

Ottawa’s move to Step 3 of the economic opening plan permits indoor workouts, personal training, and group classes at fitness centres.

For many stepping back into a gym is a moment they’ve long been waiting for.

“Probably the beginning of April, end of March,” said Aidan Gilmour about when she last set foot in a gym. “It feels really good, I’m happy to be back for sure.”

“It’s definitely been a challenge, just trying to work on my fitness goals, so I’m just happy to be back and working hard.”

With Ontario entering Step 3 of its reopening plan Friday gyms can now welcome people back inside at 50 per cent capacity.

“We’re so thrilled to be able to open our doors. In Ottawa, it’s been 100 days since we’ve been able to open, some locations it’s been 300 (days),” said Abby Johnson, group experience divisional manager with GoodLife Fitness.

At the Eagleson Road GoodLife fitness location, 200 people are allowed in at a time. No appointments are needed any longer, masks must be worn except while working out, and physical distancing is still enforced.

“This industry has certainly been hit really hard and it’s wonderful to be at a place where they can open,” said Ottawa’s Deputy Mayor Jenna Sudds, after touring the Eagleson GoodLife facility Friday.

Not mandatory at GoodLife locations is vaccinations for employees or members — a decision which has been widely criticized online.

“We are following all the provincial mandates and guidelines, so should that change we will absolutely implement some thing as we have done throughout the pandemic,” said Johnson.

 At TG Athletics in Kanata, a class-based fitness studio, day bone brought a busy first morning.

“The energy was incomparable, it was really exciting to see the traffic come through. It was like a New Years or first day of school feeling being able to bring the members back inside,” said Victoria Bassi, co-owner of TG Athletics.

Classes there are capped at 24 people for now and capacity limits have resulted in small changes to operations.

“Everything is pre-booked, that was actually a big change, before we could take any walk in, any time, whereas now it does have to be appointment based,” said Bassi.

For the fitness industry, the move to Step 3 of the province’s reopening plan was crucial. Some gyms were able to run outdoor workouts since the move to Step 2 on June 30 — but for all this is the biggest step toward normalcy since the beginning of the pandemic.

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