Message to Ontario club operators from the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, Ontario Coalition
Over the past 13 months, few industries have been hit as hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as the fitness industry. Being closed is difficult, but as many of you know, opening, closing, and re-opening with arbitrary capacity restrictions has been difficult on everyone and has prevented us from providing the best possible experience to our members.
Over the past year we have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to collaborate with government and health officials to urge them to make evidence-based decisions and to use the experience we have as fitness professionals to guide a safe and fair reopening strategy. The current “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work. To date, Ontario is the only province where the industry has been completely shut out of all discussions. The fitness industry is part of the solution, it is not part of the problem.
What We’re Doing
It’s time for us to have a seat at that table so we’ve come together as an industry to raise our collective voice.
To that end we are working with FIC members and formulated a multi-pronged public awareness campaign comprised of full-page ads courtesy of Orange Theory Fitness, Movati Athletics and Lifetime Fitness (Globe & Mail-Ont. Edition and Ottawa Citizen on May 8; and Globe & Mail on May 12), social media campaign (May 5), media relations (virtual press conference on May 12), and, as a first step, the launch of a petition to ask for your support and urge public health officials and the Ontario Government to:
Follow science, not speculation. Let evidence-based data guide decisions.
There is no data that shows fitness clubs and gyms are a significant source of COVID-19 outbreaks. Just the opposite: when we were allowed to operate, we recorded millions of workouts without incident. Safety and cleaning protocols and with booking software for contact tracing works.
- Give health and fitness experts a seat at the table when planning reopening.
Fitness professionals have deep experience and expertise. They can help officials make informed, evidence-based decisions about safely reopening and operating fitness clubs.
- Phase in capacity restrictions based on our size, not a fixed number of people
Randomly limiting capacity to 10, 20 or 50 people doesn’t make sense when one location is a small strip mall studio, and another has the floor space of a football field. Allow gyms and studios to gradually and safely open based on a percentage of their space – just like other industries.
Your Role – Support and Share the Petition: Let’s Get Moving Again
We’re asking you to join us by signing and sharing this online petition. Support a safe and responsible reopening plan for fitness clubs in Ontario. Let’s do the right thing and get Ontario moving again.
Q. Why are you doing this petition – what difference will it make?
A. Many people have expressed their desire to return to their gym and are frustrated that their fitness and well-being is not being recognized as part of the COVID-19 solution. They want their voices heard and want to return to their fitness community. As an industry, we are collectively doing everything we can to reopen safely (when the current orders are lifted)with capacity limits based on facility size to support the communities we serve. This petition is a way to show support and influence the government’s policymaking.
Q. There were cases of COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario gyms, why should we support you?
A. These cases were isolated incidents and quickly contained through our unique ability for contact tracing. The fitness industry has one of the highest safety and cleanliness records. We’ve had millions of workouts without any incidents. Our ability to maintain safe and clean operations is of the highest standards. Our priority is the safety of our members, team and communities we serve.
Q. Why does the fitness industry deserve special treatment over other businesses?
A. We don’t want special treatment, we want equal and fair treatment. Like retail and grocery stores, we would like our capacity limits to be based on size, not a fixed number capacity. Group fitness activities should also be allowed to open indoors with proper safety protocols and capacity limits based on percentage of size within physical distancing restrictions.
Q. Why do gyms want to open now?
A. We are not asking to open during a lockdown. When the lockdown order expires, the fitness industry wants to be treated fairly and equally and be allowed to reopen based on a percentage of facility space capacity. The fitness industry wants to be part of the reopening planning process with decisions based on science and data. We want to represent the millions of Ontarians who want to have fitness part of the solution in combatting COVID-19.
Q. Gyms aren’t essential. You can workout at home. Why do they need to reopen?
A. The fitness industry advocates regular daily exercise whether at home or in a gym. However, many people do not have the space or specialized equipment for their fitness needs. In many cases people need the community and expert coaching and fitness services provided by their local gym to help with their fitness, injury recovery and overall health. What we are asking for is a safe and responsible reopening plan so that we are able to reopen with proper and viable rules as soon as the current orders are lifted.