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

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Janice and Martin Green are grateful for their town’s community paramedicine program. (Photo courtesy of Janice Green)
Community paramedicine program a lifesaver in Tofino-Ucluelet

“It makes us feel more comfortable here knowing that we do have emergency services that kick in.”

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
POLL QUESTION: Would you like to see stricter enforcement towards illegal camping?

Would you like to see stricter enforcement towards illegal camping? READ MORE:… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

In this May 23, 2012, file photo, an approximately 2-year-old female cougar runs away from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife trap after being released northeast of Arlington, Wash. A cougar has attacked and severely mauled a man in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Mulligan/The Daily Herald via AP
Cougar euthanized in B.C. after severely mauling a man north of Vancouver

Whistler RCMP officers were first on the scene and shot and killed a cougar prowling nearby

Dex needs surgery after breaking his paw in the panic caused by an apartment fire. (Submitted)
Dog needs surgery after escaping burning North Island building

Fundraiser started for veterinarian costs after Dex breaks paw dropping from upper floor apartment

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Most Read