Gyms stay open despite regional colour change

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Eastern Townships region is moving to code orange, while Montreal and Quebec City are both jumping to code red, but despite these colour changes, there is no impact on the future of gyms in the province.
During the initial outbreak and subsequent lockdown, gyms fell into the non-essential category alongside restaurants, bars and hair salons. This time around, however, gyms are allowed to stay open, as long as they continue to follow Quebec’s health and safety protocols.
“First thing is gyms aren’t closing in code red, as long as we have adequate sanitary measures,” said Rene Bessette. “We have hand disinfection stations at the front, we disinfect everywhere; the railings, the counters, the ramps, water fountains.”
Bessette, co-owner of the Gym Profil Club on Wellington South, added that everyone must wear a mask when entering and exiting the building. His staff is also constantly cleaning equipment and clients are expected to wipe down machines after they finish a work out.
The gym has been preparing for this situation for several months. When the gym closed its doors for three months at the height of the first wave, Bessette and his staff spent hours devising a plan to create a safe environment with necessary protective equipment.
Clients also supported the club throughout the lockdown. According to the gym’s co-owner, no one cancelled their membership or demanded a refund. In fact, he said that more than 50 per cent of his clients continued to pay regular monthly fees as a donation and gesture of support.
“We proposed giving back the money, making a donation to the gym or just recuperating a small portion, and a lot of clients gave us the three months back because they understood that everyone lost money and they were just happy we didn’t close,” said Bessette.
The other half, meanwhile, chose to defer their payments by three months, which the gym’s ownership happily granted them. They wouldn’t have survived this long if people weren’t so willing to accept the gym’s new protocols, he added.
Profil Club is also in a considerably different position compared to large fitness centres, like the local Econofitness and World Gym locations. Bessette’s gym allows a maximum of 50 people inside and they aren’t required to make an appointment beforehand.
“Our layout gives us an advantage in this situation, a big gym that fits roughly 100 to 115 people has no choice but to restrict its numbers by using an appointment system; we don’t have to do that here,” he said.
Econofitness asks its members to book a work out session on its official website. But while this seems monotonous, one employee at the Galt Street location told The Record that business hasn’t faltered since they introduced the appointment system.
The employee, who chose to remain anonymous, said that the gym continued to charge its clients throughout the three-month lockdown. That time will be tacked on to clients’ original contracts, but members were also given several options if they didn’t want to continue at the gym.
The employee explained that people could get reimbursed; they just need to go through the proper channels and fill out the required forms online. When gyms reopened, Econofitness gave its members a month to reflect on their future with the gym during the pandemic.
If they chose to cancel their memberships, all they had to do was pay $15 rather than the usual $60 cancellation fee. However, if they missed that opportunity and continued to pay the monthly fees without stepping foot in the building, the best Econofitness can offer is credit.
The Record also approached World Gym about its situation throughout the pandemic but they declined to comment and referred the newspaper to its website where the fitness centre released an official statement regarding contracts and the pandemic.
According to a statement on April 17, each location is independently owned and operated, which means procedures may be inconsistent. Members were also told to contact their local World Gym to discuss membership options.

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