Smaller classes, shorter work outs: how gyms will change in Stage 3

Gyms and fitness clubs in Ottawa can reopen on Friday, but the daily workout routine will change to adhere to pandemic control measures. (Dave Charbonneau / CTV News Ottawa)

Most gyms in Ottawa are able to reopen this Friday, including some smaller boutique-style gyms.

Adam Bracken runs The Fitness Lab and has been waiting for this day for months but, before he can open, he has to make some changes. 

“The client will have to wear a mask when they come into our facility,” says Bracken. “Once they start exercising, they can take the masks off. Once they're done and finished their exercise, they will put the mask back on and exit the building.”

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Bracken has retained most of his clients, who waited patiently through the pandemic. Welcoming them back, however, will take some planning.

“We actually have everything cautioned off and blocked off so that no one can be sitting down or hanging around in this area,” Bracken says.

They have put what they hope will be enough measures in place to keep clients as safe and healthy as possible. 

“When you’re coming into the class, everyone will be grabbing their own personal hand sanitizer bottle that you’ll bring with you,” Bracken says, “and you’ll also grab your own towel that will obviously be used to wipe down all the equipment after you’re done.”

Some gym-goers, though, are still hesitant to get back to their routines. 

“I understand why they’re not wearing masks when they work out but I don’t want to breathe everyone’s germs in when they’re running on the treadmill," says avid gym member Derick Pockett. “For me, the risk/reward is not there. One of my kids is at risk, so I won't be going.”

Pockett says, if he didn’t have kids he would be going back to the gym right away. 

Gym member Jake Vachon says, “Gyms in Gatineau opened up recently, so I’ve been going there for the last few weeks.”

Vachon competes in power lifting. He says he’s eager for gyms to reopen, but he’s happy with Gatineau gyms for now. 

“Less restrictions. I can stay as long as I want. I don’t have to book appointments. I know, in Ottawa, you’re going to have to book appointments in advance and you can only stay for one hour. So, until all the restrictions are up, I’ll just keep going to Gatineau.”

Fitness chain Movati Athletic isn’t opening up this Friday. The company says they are going to try and negotiate a different arrangement with the government. 

The Fitness Lab says running a smaller club has its benefits. 

“It’s 2,100 square feet of actual class space. Normally, we would hold 54 people,” says Bracken. “Now, unfortunately, we’ve cut our class sizes down but we can still hold 27 people comfortably.”

The gym also has a great feature to help clear the air when one group finishes. 

“We have big garage doors that will allow us to get rid of the old air and bring in new air when a class is done,” Bracken says.

Ottawa officially enters Stage 3 of Ontario's reopening framework at 12:01 a.m. Friday.