Gyms and fitness centres have reopened, welcoming an influx of people keen on returning to their fitness regimens.
That is, at 25 per cent capacity and a mandate everyone wears a mask at all times.
At the Healthy Living Centre, front desk supervisor Jordan Wickens said Saturday they were booked solid for a week in advance.
The 25 per cent capacity translates to 10 people in the fitness centre at any given time and 20 people on the walking track.
Although the walking track fills up sometimes, with the busiest times around noon and on weekends, he said there are usually spots available.
"I think they’re just happy to be able to get out of the house and to the gym to work on themselves," he said.
People book slots one hour and 15 minutes in duration, after which a staff member comes in with a backpack sprayer to sanitize the entire space before the next group of 10 people come in.
At Brandon’s Anytime Fitness, owner Amber White said staff has an electrostatic sprayer they routinely spray equipment down with using sanitizer, alongside whatever regular wipe-downs clients undertake.
Coming out of three months of zero revenue and six cumulative months of no cash coming in since the pandemic started, White said she was more than ready to reopen.
Clients appeared eager to get back to it, too.
Between lifting weights Saturday, James Grosskopf said the reopening was "long overdue."
Although he’d been working out at home, he said he lacked the equipment to fully realize his workout routine for the past few months.
"People have been bored and they can only do so many at-home workouts before they need help again at the gym," White said, adding this has become apparent in the number of people seeking personal trainers.
"It happened last time, too, where almost everyone who walks in our door is asking for help.
"Everybody was suffering from stress during closure — overeating, depression, things like that … whatever it be that they got into during closure."
Given the size of Anytime Fitness, the 25 per cent capacity hasn’t been an issue, though they’ve kept up a booking system to maintain the peace of mind they don’t inadvertently nudge north of capacity.
Although their current allowable capacity translates to 25 people, they also play it safe by limiting the number of people booked inside at 15, just in case there’s overlap between the hour-and-a-half bookings.
Although happy to have reopened, White is currently advocating against the mask mandate.
She’d prefer a rule that mandated masks at all times except for when clients are undertaking the most vigorous of exercises.
Rather than lean on her own medical knowledge, she pointed to the World Health Organization’s urging that masks not be used when exercising, as "sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly, which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of micro-organisms."
White’s opinion isn’t universal in the gym community, though. Although some clients have advocated in favour of relaxing the mask mandate, she said some have argued in favour of masks at all times and have said they would not return to the gym if people were not wearing masks.
As it stands, White said the relaxation of restrictions to allow for gyms to reopen has been a long-awaited and significant step in the right direction.
"We’re extremely happy to have as many people as we can back and to see faces again in the gym."
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB