Zeena Dotiwalla cleans dumbbells at Yogaspace in Toronto on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Some provinces are starting to reveal plans for a gradual return to normal but gyms and studios remain in a holding pattern. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Zeena Dotiwalla cleans dumbbells at Yogaspace in Toronto on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Some provinces are starting to reveal plans for a gradual return to normal but gyms and studios remain in a holding pattern. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Fitness centres mull smaller classes, online lessons once studios are able open

Many say attendance will be significantly decreased

While fitness centres weren’t exactly conducive to physical distancing before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, as studios begin to draft their reopening plans some say the days of letting the sweat fly in a crammed spin studio or sardining yoga mats in hot rooms are unlikely to return.

Some provinces are starting to reveal plans for a gradual return to normal but gyms and studios remain in a holding pattern. Once they eventually get clearance to reopen, it’s expected that the six-feet-apart rule will be maintained.

Ryann Doucette, the chief executive officer of Modo Yoga, which has 75 locations in Canada and around the world, said in-person attendance will be significantly trimmed from pre-pandemic levels when classes resume.

“I think we’ll be running our classes probably at half capacity with more distancing and then supplementing that with online classes as well,” said Doucette, who is originally from Winnipeg and now lives in Minneapolis. “And I think students are really getting used to exercising online at home via through Zoom or Apple TV or whatever format they’re using.

“It came about because of this but it’s definitely here to stay.”

Jenny Nicol, a Toronto-based yoga and meditation teacher, also doesn’t expect studios to return to normal in-person attendance levels any time soon.

“I don’t foresee that happening this year,” she said.

Nicol has also made the pivot to video, creating a studio in her apartment and setting up class options via Zoom and Instagram on her website.

“I see (online options) being a big part of where we go with our yoga practice, with where we go with our class experience, and our gym experience in general,” she said.

She said her yoga community has been grateful, committed and consistent during the transition.

“I think that mentality like, ‘We’re all in this together’ has really carried through,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘We can’t just retreat’ during COVID-19 isolation, says South Surrey fitness expert

Kim Lavender, the vice-president of group experience at GoodLife Fitness, said the company — with more than 300 locations in Canada — will follow government guidance for reopening and the resumption of group activities.

“It’s something we have invested a lot of time and energy in, trying to make sure that we’re planning accordingly,” she said. “We also understand that the digital offerings that we’re doing now and what’s available to members online is probably not just a pandemic solution, but it’s something that we are going to be able to carry forward as well to enhance that live experience.”

It remains too early to tell how increased digital options and smaller class sizes might affect membership levels and the overall financial picture once gyms and studios reopen.

Sally Willis-Stewart, a senior instructor in the school of health and exercise sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus, envisions more personalization as fitness culture evolves.

“A lot more small group or one-on-one type scenarios,” she said from Coldstream, B.C. “Just because then people can get the help, the service, the expertise that they need. But they don’t have to go to a class where there’s 50 other people in it.”

However, personalized attention can be costly. One option that can be easier on the wallet is outdoor fitness, which may be more attractive now that temperatures are on the rise.

The warmer weather could also help Canadians in a fitness rut as the pandemic’s two-month mark approaches. Getting out for a walk, run or bike ride can be more appealing this time of year.

“It’s easy to get into a negative spiral because there’s been so many losses for people,” said four-time Olympian Silken Laumann. “Fitness, movement, fresh air, are ways of building yourself up and gaining energy.

“And I think that’s kind of what we’re looking for these days.”

For those feeling that motivation is on the wane, Laumann — who’s married to GoodLife CEO David Patchell-Evans — recommends short bursts of frequent activity. She suggests little things like walking more often or mixing in ”old standbys” like pushups, situps and burpees.

Going to the gym is only one way to work out, she added. “There’s a lot of other things we can do to augment that and they’re about our lifestyle. They’re about what we can do, maybe doing 10 minutes of core (work) just before we go to bed.

“And if you’re doing it often enough and frequently enough, it’s going to have an effect on your overall health.”

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusFitness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo: dignified.ca)
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

Ed Holden owns and operates The Christmas Store at Potters, located on 48th Avenue in Surrey. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
‘B.C. Buy Local Week’ kicks off with urgent plea to holiday shoppers

‘Local businesses are just hanging on,’ says organizer of the week-long campaign

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
Judge hears Langley development case that could end in mayor, councillors booted out of council

The conflict of interest case was launched by local voters a year ago

Most Read