It doesn’t take a business expert to realize that closed doors equal zero profits. And while Ghost Kitchens and takeout meals have helped provide shelter from the storm for the restaurant industry, the fitness market has been left out in the cold. With #PatioTO promising an oasis of patios for pubs and restaurants keeping patrons outside safely (except to pee of course) why has the Ontario government enlisted a completely different set of rules for gyms?


Announcing even parks would be off-limits during this latest lockdown was a harsh blow to anyone with a pulse and a purpose. How can wide-open outdoor spaces be the harbinger of doom? Fitness tracks installed in parks, where distance is obvious and easy were taped up and marked off. That ban lasted mere hours, after parental pressure to use swings and slides proved too restrictive. Keep people from fresh air, exercise and distanced socialization and what do you get? Depressed people who won’t make it. Rule breakers who shrug it off and congregate indoors. You get wave four.

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With alarm bells well past just ringing, industry experts gathered (on Zoom, naturally) to provide a deep dive on how they have created a COVID playbook for their various gyms and facilities and why they deserve a seat at the re-opening table. Owners and trainers from Canada’s top gyms shared the same exasperated refrain, put quite poignantly by Movati Athletics leader Chuck Kelly, “We’re not epidemiologists. But we are experts at running fitness facilities. Facts, not speculation. We don’t want to be the source of the outbreak in our communities and we’ve proven that we aren’t. When Costco’s are running at 50% just around the corner, it just doesn’t make sense.” His sprawling mega-gyms could certainly rival the square footage of any big box store, so why can Costco open and operate at 50%, but he’s completely closed? Even outdoor parking lot workouts are off-limits, which is nonsensical but at least fair. When the 700 sq ft yoga studio can’t open, this should level the playing field for all. This is another crucial concern for these leaders, many independent trainers and gym owners are flouting the rules, and instead ‘going rogue‘ and opening for rehab and physio guises, when really it’s the same juicy deadlifts on repeat to make those leg day gains.

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Orangetheory owner Ian Smith shares in Chuck’s frustration and pegs his losses at $150K since the lockdowns began. With enhanced cleaning, mandatory masking, contact tracing built-in, distancing and dividers setup, these costs add up and have netted his location no additional financial gains, if they can’t open their doors, why jump through these expensive hoops?

The ask from these fitness leaders is straightforward.




After safely attending an outdoor workout with my Núcleo Fitness fam this past fall it’s shocking to think that we’re actually going backwards. Without swift intervention, the raw talent of our favourite trainers and fitness leaders will all but evaporate. They’ve had your back time and time again, now it’s time to step up for them. Make your voice heard and sign the petition to get Canada safely moving again See the video below for more information.

Lead image courtesy Orangetheory Canada. All remaining images by Libby Roach.