Gyms in Kamloops, Okanagan adjusting to new normal; others never will - InfoNews

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Gyms in Kamloops, Okanagan adjusting to new normal; others never will

Delray Kohnert has made do with some home-made signs while she waits for a shipment of professional stickers and signsto encourage social distancing.
May 29, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Some gyms in the Thompson-Okanagan are already filled with the sound of clanking weights and the hum of cardio machines, while some are still working out how to tackle the new normal. Some might never open their doors again.

One of the first gyms to open in Kamloops was Heavy Metal Gym, which opened May 19, the first permitted day. Owner Angus Glasgow says his wife is a dentist, and the information she has been given from Interior Health allowed for him to be prepared to open when the health authority rescinded the closure notice.

“Everyone was just really happy the gym was open because there were very, very few gyms that were open last week, so a lot of people that had memberships at other gyms came to our gyms because there was nowhere else to go,” Glasgow says.

Heavy Metal Gym is roughly 7,000 square feet, and Glasgow says having a smaller gym and lower membership levels worked in his favour as he can easily enforce social distancing protocols. The gym is no longer open 24 hours and is always staffed to ensure clients follow the guidelines, such as cleaning their hands and equipment.

“We don’t have that many people here so it’s easier to educate people and to talk about it… being a smaller gym it does make it a little easier, and I can see it being very difficult for some of the larger facilities to reopen,” Glasgow says. “Planet Fitness, where they have 5,000 members, a place like that I think it’d be very, very difficult to adjust to this.”

These sanitizers, both for hands and equipment, is at various machines around the Ladies Only Fitness centre.
These sanitizers, both for hands and equipment, is at various machines around the Ladies Only Fitness centre.

For others, like Delray Kohnert, who owns Ladies Only Fitness, more time was needed to figure out a strategy. She and a group of local gym owners in Kamloops decided to wait a week to plan and prepare for re-opening.

“Most of us chose to open on the 25th, I think it was because we needed that extra week and we had no advance warning that they were rescinding the order,” Kohnert says. “There was a few of us that choose to wait until the 25th, but some people chose to open right on the 19th and that was fine because they were already set up and ready to go maybe with signage and stuff, but because we hadn’t gotten our guidelines right away we just decided to wait… it was what we felt like we needed.”

These signs are dotted around Kohnert's fitness centre.
These signs are dotted around Kohnert's fitness centre.

Unlike Heavy Metal Gym, Kohnert has a number of cardio machines in her gym. Because of that, she had to hang ‘closed’ signs on every other machine to respect social distancing. She’s still awaiting a few more signs to be printed but says the reopening has gone well for her and the other gym owners in the River City.

“It was a breath of fresh air because every customer who came through the door was happy that the gyms were open. It was a nice contrast to the last couple months where people haven’t really been that pumped about life,” Kohnert says.

Some members chose to continue with the $30 monthly fee to support her during the closure, but the financial strain was felt by both Kamloops gym owners while many membership fees were put on hold.

For some owners, their locked doors never opened. 9Round Fitness in Vernon is one of the facilities that was too hard hit to resume business as normal, and community members have started a GoFundMe to support the pair who ran the centre and no longer have that source of income.

Dave Kirk is also involved in 9Round Fitness and owns three locations in Kelowna. He says the owners in Vernon were heavily financially impacted by the months of closed doors, but he is able to re-open the Kelowna locations on June 1.

“After the go-ahead from Interior Health we had some procedures to write and ensure the safety of our trainers and our members, make sure we had the appropriate masks, cleaning supplies, and (personal protective equipment) and making sure we’re prepared,” Kirk says.

All the gym owners say it’s important that safety and cleanliness measures are met to ensure the closure order isn’t put in place again.

“Gyms are still a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle and I think the majority of people recognize that. I think as long as gyms are being responsible… then we can continue and hopefully thrive down the road,” Kirk says. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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