As Windsor-Essex moves into Stage 3, some businesses are busy preparing to open their doors for the first time in nearly five months.

Among those are gyms and fitness centres.

It will be a new type of experience for many looking to get back into the routine. There will be fewer people at once and a long list of safety protocols will make working out a very different process.

But fitness centres are game — and like any business shuttered for this long, very eager to bring customers back.

“As soon as we closed the doors, we started work behind the scenes in what we were trying to do so we could reopen safely,” says Stephanie Dupuis, senior director of personal training at GoodLife Fitness on Dougall Avenue.

They took the time to renovate and reshape the space in anticipation of Wednesday’s Stage 3 reopening. Under the rules, they can fit 50 people on the workout floor at a time.

Dupuis says plan ahead. “Members can book workouts ahead of time. Those without an appointment may have to wait."

Along with obvious physical distancing measures, masks will be mandatory when moving about but not required when actually working out. Also in full effect is the new “GoodLife Standard” - an all-new approach to constant cleaning, sanitization and safety.

“After every hour of workouts, we close for 30 minutes and we clean the club, we do a deep cleaning, all of the high touch points,” says Dupuis.

Some classes will run with limited capacity, but showers and the pool will remain closed for the time being.

Should a COVID-positive case present, Dupuis says contact tracing will be easier with existing scanners. “We’re asking them to follow the protocols in the club so that everything we’ve put in place allows us to not just open, but stay open,” she says.

Over at Refine Fitness in Walkerville, owner Mike Bates says they’re waiting until Friday to re-launch.

“We’re super excited, I mean, that would be an understatement.”

Online and at-home personal training has kept the local club afloat throughout the pandemic. Bates says new health and safety protocols are costly, but necessary.

“It’s more expensive for us to open, there’s no question, like every business, we’re spending more money on health and cleaning related procedures and that’s just part of the deal.”

He’s purchased a disinfectant fogging machine and will bring in cleaning staff daily, with employees cleaning high-touch points every 30 minutes.

Popular personal and group training sessions will continue, but in a very different manner.

“In the past we would set up circuits where people would share equipment. Those days are done for now. So you can kind of picture, one person's in one box, no one’s in the next box, person’s in the next box. So we’ve got that six feet of separation and people will not be sharing equipment,” he says.