Future of fitness: Waterloo gym closing, moving classes online permanently

The pandemic continues to take its toll on local businesses, as a women's gym in Waterloo closes permanently due to the financial impact of the ongoing restrictions.

"To break the news that I wasn't going to be here anymore was really hard," said Fitness 360 owner Kerri Hallman.

Making the decision to close Fitness 360 Women's gym in Waterloo has come at an emotional toll for Hallman.

"I've cried millions of tears, been angry and part of me has been happy because this past year has been so financially stressful," she explained.

She's spent the past eight years running the gym, but because of the pandemic she's decided not to renew her lease.

Although the physical doors of Fitness 360 will close, Hallman plans to continue on by teaching virtual classes.

"I'm going to religiously continue the three, four, five days a week," said long-time member Lori Murray.

Hallman began making the shift online during the first lockdown and now many of her loyal members prefer the virtual option.

"The online classes allow way more flexibility in my schedule," explained member Shani Pregelj.

Fitness expert Libby Norris says online classes are removing barriers for many people who otherwise wouldn't make it into the gym.

"They don't have to travel, they're in a comfortable space and they can keep their cameras off as well," she explained.

Norris also predicts that hybrid workout models are here to stay long after restrictions are lifted.

"There's such a significant portion of our population who simply can't get to gym and fitness programs."

As for Hallman, she's selling all of this gym equipment and giving members first dibs. She's planning to sell anything left behind to the public afterwards via social media.

It is part of her plan to move forward as one door closes and a virtual one opens.

"Even though I don't see them in a physical sense, I'll still know that they're there behind the camera working out with me," added Hallman.