Expect a new normal when gyms given OK to open amid coronavirus: Manitoba Fitness Council

The Manitoba Fitness Council says things won't be right back to normal when gyms and fitness centres get the green light to open in Manitoba. Getty Images

Manitoba gym owners and gym users rejoiced at this week’s news that provincial health officials are looking at lifting some restrictions placed on fitness centres during the COVID-19 outbreak.

But as gym owners await word on when they can reopen, the executive director of the Manitoba Fitness Council warns gym goers not to expect a return to normal when it happens.

READ MORE: Winnipeg opens city-owned parks to groups of up to 50 amid coronavirus

“There will be a slow transition to get back,” Stephanie Jeffrey told Global News Morning Winnipeg.

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Manitoba gyms to navigate tight guidelines upon reopening – May 22, 2020

“I think eventually we’ll get back but I think that we need to be patient and look at our options and do what makes us feel comfortable working out again.

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“I think it will look different, I think it will take some time.”

Fitness centres and gyms are currently closed due to COVID-19,  although gyms are allowed to hold classes outdoors with a cap of 10 people, as long as each person brings their own equipment.

But changes to those rules are coming.

Draft reopening plan released

On Thursday Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister unveiled a draft plan for the province’s second phase of reopening, which will allow fitness facilities and gyms to begin operating again, within limitations.

Some of the limitations and changes outlined for gyms in the province’s draft plan include spaced-out fitness machines, the addition of hand-sanitizing stations at gym entrances and throughout facilities, and a marked increase in cleaning practices.

Jeffrey says gym users will also likely have to schedule appointments for their workouts.

READ MORE: Manitoba fitness industry hoping for gyms to reopen soon

“I think dropping into a gym is probably not going to be an option for most people and most gyms,” she said, adding that change may end up being a beneficial motivator for some.

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“They can’t come an hour later; they really have to come the time that they’ve scheduled or they don’t come at all.

“I think it will hold people to a schedule and maybe create that sense of urgency when the openings are there.”

READ MORE: Manitoba’s next phase of COVID-19 reopening could happen sooner than expected: health officials

Showering at the gym may no longer be an option, says Jeffery, lockers may not be available, towel services won’t be allowed, and some equipment may be off limits.

“Foam rollers, stability balls, they’re just impossible to sanitize between clients,” she explained.

“So I think those types of pieces — buy them for at home — but you may not have access to them at the gym.”

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‘We want people to feel comfortable’

Jeffrey said the council has been working with provincial officials on the new rules around gyms and the organization is pleased with the rollout plans.

She says the group looked at what was happening in other provinces, like British Columbia, where gyms and indoor facilities that offer services such as weight training, gymnastics, martial arts, yoga and dance studios were allowed to open with limitations starting Tuesday.

READ MORE: Reopening B.C.: Health orders lifted, allowing gyms to reopen

But when exactly Mantioba’s Phase 2 reopening will start remains up in the air.

The province hasn’t yet said when the easing of easing restrictions will begin, but in the past, Phase 2 was scheduled for possible implementation on June 1.

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On Thursday Pallister said when ithe next reopening phase starts will depend on how the numbers look.

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Either way, Jeffrey says gym owners will be ready, and some may end up taking some extra time to make sure they’re ready to do it right.

READ MORE: Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing happening in Manitoba as two new cases announced

“Gyms are going to be taking lots of precautions,” she said.

“We really want to keep people safe and we want people to feel comfortable at the gym.”

— With files from Abigail Turner

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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