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Coronavirus: Some London, Ont., fitness studios to err on side of caution despite relaxed rules

FILE - Earl Edwards, of Canton, Mass., works out on Monday, July 6, 2020, at Answer is Fitness gym. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Steven Senne

Some fitness studios in London, Ont., are able to welcome more clients back after the Ontario government further relaxed rules in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, but it appears that many will continue to err on the side of caution.

The Doug Ford government announced Friday that as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, indoor sports, fitness and recreation facilities can have up to 50 people in each room, so long as distancing measures are adhered to. The regulations apply to gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise clubs, yoga studios and dance studios.

Read more: Ontario increasing room capacity limits at gyms, fitness, recreation facilities

Gyms in the London region began reopening — with restrictions in place — when the area moved into Stage 3 in mid-July.

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Carlton Braithwaite, national operations manager for GoodLife Fitness, which is based out of London, told Global News it’s exciting to “move towards our next normal.” However, he says just because they can do something, doesn’t mean they will.

“Our team had worked to plan for physical distancing at each club based on square footage and club layout,” he said.

“So, in some of our clubs, even if we’re able to go above the 50 person capacity based on the province’s recommendations, this may exceed our own internal capacity limits. If this is the case, we’ll keep capacity lower than what’s technically allowed.”

Alec Pinchin, owner of Fitness Forum in London, says his gym is also been erring on the side of caution.

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“We’re running mainly just our main gym and workout area, and we’ve cut that number at 42. We feel that’s a good safe number (for the space),” he told Global News.

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“With the booking system that we’re doing, we’re booking people into specific areas of the club and we’ve got our set limits on that.”

Read more: Ontario budget deficit projected to jump to $38.5 billion in 2020-2021

Pinchin says members have been great about following protocol and he’s had a lot of really positive feedback.

“Not half an hour ago I was stopped by one of our members on the way out who told me she just loved it that we were open, that it was so clean she said she could literally eat off the floor, that the equipment was all spread out,” he said.

“We’ve heard so much of that and it’s made a lot of this hard work that we’ve done feel very much worthwhile.”

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Still, Pinchin says the precautions — cleaning in particular — are a bit of a financial strain.

“We’re still getting final numbers in, but our cleaning supply costs and maintenance costs are up about 225 per cent. It’s something we have to deal with and so we are. If we want to run a good club here, we have to do that.”

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Coronavirus: Ontario gyms, recreation centres allowed to increase capacity limits – Aug 14, 2020

— with files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues.

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