Montreal gyms prepare to re-open following nearly six-month COVID-19 shutdown

Montreal gyms prepare to re-open after nearly 6 months of shutdown because of COVID-19. Getty Images

Gyms located in Montreal’s red zone will be allowed to re-open Friday, but with limited capacity and additional safety measures.

“There was a lot of work on the human resources side because we had to re-train our employees, hire new ones, restart the mechanics of our training devices, manage reservations for access and make preventive maintenance,” explained Claire Tremblay, president of Energie Cardio.

As of Friday, 26 of the chain’s 27 establishments will be up and running, something the fitness chain has spent weeks preparing for. In addition to a reservation system to manage traffic, Energie Cardio intends to have more employees on the floor to ensure compliance with the measures.

“Our workforce will be about 15 per cent higher than before the pandemic (about 650 employees), said Renaud Beaudry, Econofitness vice-president. “They will be present to check whether masks are being worn and ensure that the devices are disinfected after use.”

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With concern over the new COVID-19 variants and the possibility of a third wave, the two fitness companies are hoping to avoid another forced shutdown.

Friday’s gym openings will not necessarily translate to profitability.

If there are no new closures, it will take about six months for the company to get back on its feet, Beaudry said.

“There are a lot of additional expenses to provide a safe service. We are giving ourselves a 12-month period for the relaunch,” Tremblay said.

In an attempt to stay in shape despite health restrictions, many people have turned to virtual training options. Both fitness companies believe that these services are here to stay, and they see them as “complementary” to gym memberships.

“People have developed fitness habits around the house, but the gym environment is hard to replace,” Beaudry said. “The variety of equipment that is in a gym is a lot different than what most people have at home.”

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