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‘Bold decisions’: Regina yoga studio cancels in-person classes, calls on others to follow suit

Colin Hall, Bodhi Tree Yoga co-owner, is closing the studio doors to in-person classes and moving to an online platform indefinitely. Files / Global News

For the second time this pandemic, Colin Hall is cancelling in-person classes and completely moving Bodhi Tree Yoga online. But this time, he’s asking other fitness groups to follow his lead.

“If one gym or one studio closes that doesn’t really solve our problem,” Hall told Global News.

“We thought, ‘Let’s take this opportunity and try to step into more of a leadership role.’”

Read more: Death toll in Saskatchewan rises by 4 while 237 recover from coronavirus

The problem Hall is referring to is Saskatchewan’s rising COVID-19 cases.

Hall posted to Facebook, calling the closure a difficult decision, but a necessary one.

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“We are calling on other gyms, fitness facilities, and yoga studios in Saskatchewan to voluntarily close their doors and move to online platforms,” the post said.

“Facing a lack of courageous leadership from our elected officials, we believe it falls on our community leaders to step up and make bold decisions right now.”

Government coronavirus restrictions forced Hall to shift to virtual classes in March.

Read more: New Saskatchewan COVID-19 restrictions good, but more needed, Saskatoon doctor says

Bodhi Tree didn’t reopen to the public until September with a limit of six yogis per class.

But under the most recent provincial guidelines, Hall says the studio could only fit three people plus an instructor.

Financially, the studio could have profited by livestreaming those in-person classes, Hall said. But, ultimately, the health and safety of others trumped it.

“Because it’s not that crucial of a service to maintain and because we have a viable option over the internet, the sensible thing to do was to just shut it down,” said Hall, adding that the studio most likely won’t reopen until an effective vaccine is available.

Bodhi Tree isn’t the only fitness studio temporarily closing its doors.

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Local Barre Fitness paused in-studio workouts, turning solely to its online platform. Wheelhouse Cycle Club did the same thing.

But Hall understands it’s not a viable option for all fitness centres.

“I don’t begrudge anybody at all for doing what you need to do to survive — I totally get it. I feel bad that people are being put in this position at all,” Hall said.

Still, other group fitness activities are going ahead with the new restrictions, as they adapt to mandatory masks, increased physical distancing and reduced class sizes.

A.J. Scales, the owner of Regina’s Complete Martial Arts and Fitness, teaches jiu-jitsu classes.

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“With Brazilian jiu-jitsu, we do make contact, so (restrictions have) put a big swing into things for us,” Scales said.

Under provincial guidelines, contact isn’t allowed. Scales says he’s had to turn his classes into high-intensity training sessions, instead.

Read more: Coronavirus pandemic, election promises highlight Saskatchewan’s throne speech

“Some people are choosing not to come on particular days because of the fact that they can’t make contact,” he said.

If there is another government-mandated lockdown, Scales says he would make his workouts virtual through Zoom.

Until then, he says he wants to accommodate in-person classes to offer some normality to his clients’ lives.

“If I can get people out of their houses and still maintaining their routine, I’m going to do that for them,” Scales said.

Current government restrictions are in place until at least Dec. 17.

After that, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, along with government officials, will review the guidelines and decide to keep, alter or remove them.

Hall calls the current measures a clear show of the province abdicating responsibility.

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“If they don’t say close down, then they don’t need to take any steps to try to help small businesses,” Hall said.

He wants the province to shut down non-essential businesses and offer them financial support, in order to keep businesses afloat while curbing the spread of COVID-19.

According to Premier Scott Moe, consultations are underway to determine what type of financial aid and other assistance are needed to help both individuals and businesses.

“If there are some changes that need to be made, this is a government that’s shown that we will make those changes and we will continue to support the people of this province as we find our way through this pandemic,” Moe told reporters after Monday’s throne speech.

There is no timeline attached to those supports, nor does the province know what it might look like.