Importance of Re-Opening Small Fitness Studios

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May 12, 2020

 Dear Premier Ford and M.P.P Mr. Ernie Hardeman

As we move into the next phase of re-open and expanding services in Ontario, I am asking for your support and consideration in allowing small fitness studios to be included in this plan.  

Small fitness studios play a huge part in the health and wellbeing of our community members. There are numerous evidenced based studies that prove how exercise combats depression and anxiety, increases cardiovascular health and bone density, controls weight and lowers the risks associated with obesity. As there are new studies emerging daily that link COVID-19 as having a higher mortality rate when coupled with obesity and associated risk factors, it is important that we continue to provide healthy lifestyle avenues that can assist at reducing these associated diseases that stem from obesity. (E.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes). 

Healthcare and Mental healthcare have remained an essential service during this pandemic.  We want to be considered a priority and an essential service for the people within our community who are struggling with mental health concerns and lack of physical activity during this time.  . The majority of our clients have been messaging us daily for ongoing support. This time has created more struggles for people mentally, psychologically and physically. It’s easy to say, “Just exercise at home”, but a lot of members within our community do not have the support or resources they need to complete well rounded programs that include fitness, nutrition and mental health support on their own. . 

Many of us studio owners and staff are live streaming workouts daily for our members but this is not enough. The community feeling, the camaraderie, the support that is offered within our walls cannot be found by doing an at home workout. Most have just given up and are suffering the side effects of lack of exercise and poor nutrition. 

As we look within our community at other services that are available I feel that the reason to be included in an earlier phase of re-opening is justified.  For example, liquor and beer stores are deemed essential. Is the rationale that people with alcohol addictions would struggle if these venues are closed?  If so then I would like to make the same argument that people with eating and food addictions are struggling without the use of gyms and fitness centers. People with chronic conditions that affect their movement are not getting the supervised exercise they need, and I worry about the negative physical and psychological toll this is taking on our members and the community.  Their outlet to relieve stress and combat depression has been taken away from them. With the added stress of these unprecedented times, I feel it’s critical to have a safe place where they can enhance their health both physically and mentally as fitness for many people is not just about looking good. 

As well, as your government looks to the next phase of opening up healthcare services specifically surgeries across the province, we are a great resource within our community to assist with the rehabilitation of these patients to prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions or increased lengths of stay post operatively due to lack of supervised exercise services in the community. 

 


We have spent a lot of time and effort to come up with a reason plan to re-open. This plan includes takes into consideration the Public Health of Ontario and Ministry guidelines that are already in place. We already have some existing infrastructure and process in place that can be enhanced to provide a safe environment for our members.  We are also confident that we are nimble enough to be able to comply with any further rules and regulations that may be imposed upon reopening. .

Physical Barriers and Restrictions:        

Door access limits. Many of us have a lock system that can be programmed to only be open certain hours as well as only allow so many entries within a specified time period.
Our software programs have on line booking availability for clients where we can set the parameters. Essentially we can have clients reserve time slots to come in and exercise. Once the capacity is full, it will not allow them to schedule. They have to check in electronically upon arrival so all attendance is meticulously tracked.
Members are not allowed to share equipment. No rotating station to station
We can easily, with putting occupancy numbers in place, have everyone distance themselves. Taped out boxes can be made around the equipment for clients to observe.
Masks can be provided and worn, if that is a regulation imposed by the public health department

Member Screening: 

We had been and will continue to restrict access to anyone who has any sort of illness. We will also begin checking temperatures of everyone that enters
Indoor shoes are mandatory and change of shoes will be verified right at entry

Cleaning Processes:        

We use, and have always used, a virucide to clean all surfaces of the gym.  We use a hospital grade disinfectant and virucide. We have an abundance of spray bottles, wipes and paper towels available for use. Each member has always been required to clean their equipment after use, but we have stepped up our monitoring procedures for this.
We have purchased and will be using a "fogger" to spray disinfectant on every single surface of the facility daily. 
Multiple hand sanitizing stations are set up around the facility. (although every time they clean the equipment with our disinfectant, their hands are being sanitized as well)
We had previously and will continue, to increase the frequency of our professional cleaning service to provide deep cleaning of the entire facility. This is in addition to the stepped up efforts of myself and my staff in continuously cleaning all surfaces of the gym.
As exercise and proper nutrition helps to build a strong immune system, you will not typically find people at the gym who are ill. We have the healthiest and fittest population within our facility, not high risk groups.

From a personal stand point, the whole reason we opened a fitness centre was to help increase the quality and longevity of people’s lives. We would never jeopardize anyone’s health. We will adhere to all protocols laid out for us.  I humbly ask that we not be lumped into just a category of “gyms” as we are very different than big box gyms. We are a small, local family owned businesses that promote health and wellness. We can easily offer our services in a safe way that is following all guidelines set out by our government.

I appreciate you taking the time to review my proposal and hope you will consider adding our services to the early phases of re-opening Ontario. 

 

With great respect,

On behalf of all small fitness studios in Ontario,

Patti McCarragher

President, The Ripped Club

Tillsonburg Ontario