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

Two new fires burning in the Arrow Lakes Region

One of the fires is burning approximately 30 kilometres northwest of Castlegar

Municipal climate caucus, founded in Nelson, meets for national online conference

The group consists of 294 mayors, councillors and regional directors from across the country

Navy vessel to be named after Nelson’s Hampton Gray

The announcement comes on the 75th anniversary of Gray’s death

Nelson’s police chief retiring

Chief Paul Burkart has given notice for the spring of 2021

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read