Stakeholders in Manitoba’s fitness industry are eager to be allowed to operate sooner rather than later as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact gyms and other fitness-related businesses.
Winnipeg gym owner and trainer Dino Camire created fitnessmanitoba.com, a website advocating for dozens of independently owned gyms that hope to reopen as soon as possible.
Manitoba gyms are currently allowed to hold classes outdoors with a cap of 10 people and each person bringing their own equipment.
Camire, however, told 680 CJOB that if big box stores like Walmart can operate indoors with thousands of patrons a day, gyms should be able to do the same with extra precautions to keep things safe.
READ MORE: Manitoba’s next phase of COVID-19 reopening could happen sooner than expected — health officials
“I feel that small fitness centres owned and operated by the owners who are in the facilities have the capacity to do the same thing,” said Camire. “We can wipe equipment down between uses, we can direct our members to keep things clean, to wash their hands frequently.
“We’re implying that there is something inherently risky about exercising indoors using equipment, but I believe that if things are kept clean and we use appropriate physical distancing that there is no increased risk.”
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Some experts, however, are concerned that gyms will be some of the toughest facilities to reopen while COVID-19 is still a threat.
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Isaac Bogoch, a Toronto infectious disease specialist, told Global News working out at a gym is still a high-risk activity.
“If we’re going to make a list of high-risk activities, the gym would be on the upper end of that spectrum. We’ve got lots of people in an enclosed indoor space with high-contact surfaces, and they’re also exercising as well, perhaps expelling more breath into the air,” said Bogoch.
Camire said gyms have been able to open in British Columbia, so his website is putting out a similar proposal to what West Coast facilities have done in the hopes that they’re able to operate.
The Manitoba Fitness Council is also calling for a B.C.-style reopening.
“I am receiving tear-filled calls from both fitness facility owners as well as those that count on their visit to the gym for the motivation to work hard,” said the council’s director, Stephanie Jeffrey.
“The province allowed us to offer fitness classes outside, but those training in specialized modalities cannot all be accessed in a park training environment.
“We must ensure that the public is aware of the measures we are taking in ensuring their safety while ensuring options are available so our fitness facility industry and its thousands of workers remain viable for years to come.”