Frontline Experts Using Innovative Techniques to Get Canadians Back to the Gym

Frontline Experts using Innovative Techniques to get Canadians back to the Gym

Courtesy Advanced Performance Healthcare Design

Physicians on frontlines of COVID-19 partner with GoodLife Fitness to set the standard for gym safety.


Two doctors at the heart of downtown Toronto’s COVID-19 response are venturing outside hospital walls to help support the health of Canadians. Emergency Physicians and Healthcare Design Experts Christopher Hicks, MD, MEd, FRCPC, and Andrew Petrosoniak, MD, MEd, FRCPC of Advanced Performance Healthcare Design (APHD) have partnered with GoodLife Fitness to set the standard for how fitness is done in the COVID-19 era.


Hicks and Petrosoniak played an integral role in guiding, supporting, and testing the COVID-19 response process and protocols at St. Michael’s Hospital, a leading academic health sciences centre in Toronto, and have been on the frontline caring for COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic.


“We’ve been working in the hospital setting to design the safest possible conditions. It was a unique challenge to be able to apply what we’ve learned to a new environment, but the same principles apply. We recognize it’s important for Canadians to have access to gyms for their physical and mental health, so this project is really important to us,” said Dr. Christopher Hicks.


They partnered with GoodLife to use simulation, combined with clinical and behavioural psychology expertise, to create customized solutions for the unique needs of fitness clubs.


“Our goal has been to meet or exceed the new health and safety parameters laid out by the different levels of government across the country. That’s why we developed The GoodLife Standard,” says Jason Sheridan, Senior Vice President of Operations for GoodLife Fitness. “GoodLife recognized that we are living in unprecedented circumstances and that, while we have an incredible wealth of knowledge on our own teams, we knew we needed to consult external experts in this specific field to make sure our reopening plan was as responsible and effective as possible.”


We recognize it’s important for Canadians to have access to gyms for their physical and mental health, so this project is really important to us."


In preparation for their work with Canada’s largest fitness club chain, Hicks and Petrosoniak completed thorough research on the fitness industry, as well as GoodLife spaces, processes, and policies, with a specific focus on the company’s proposed re-opening plans including The GoodLife Standard and new operating model.  


A comprehensive situational analysis was completed by interviewing many of GoodLife’s internal experts, analyzing Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) plans and strategy, and reviewing risks using Failure Mode Effective Analysis (FMEA). Table-Top Simulations, similar to role-playing, were completed by acting out certain potential scenarios over video conference calls, with various members of GoodLife’s leadership team. During this phase, they focused on efficiency and risk mitigation with workflows being iteratively refined.


“This pandemic has taught us that we’re linked far more than we ever thought we were,” says Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak. “To imagine that we can engage in activities within our towns, cities, and around the country without any impact on others is simply not true. In fact, when we come to the gym, it’s a social contract with those around us that we’re going to behave in a responsible way and that those who are sharing the space will do so as well.”


To test that social contract, the process culminated with a live, in-club simulation. The space was prepared so that it was set up in the new operating model and in accordance with The GoodLife Standard. Hicks and Petrosoniak had associates and members participate in many different scenarios to simulate what an actual experience would be like, including arriving at a club, checking in, working out, and leaving. During this time, the team was able to identify confusion points and blind spots that may encumber safety. They were then able to address and solve those issues, as well as eliminate friction associated with compliance before clubs opened.

“What we’ve seen here with GoodLife is that they’ve created a space that follows the recommendations and, in fact, goes above and beyond the recommendations that have been put in place,” says Dr. Christopher Hicks. “I’m a big believer in the work that GoodLife has done and the process they’ve engaged in. Adding the two of us into the pictures as frontline healthcare providers and medical designers I think really shows an added level of commitment on behalf of the organization to really understand the nature of the problem and to make the process of reopening fitness Clubs as responsible as I think it could possibly be.”

About Advanced Performance Healthcare Design

Advanced Performance Healthcare Design (APHD) uses multi-modal high-fidelity simulation to inform the design of clinical infrastructure, equipment, and teams. By integrating user-focused design principles, behavioral psychology, and clinical expertise, APHD creates workplace solutions that are as unique as the people and teams that depend on them.

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