As some Alberta gyms reopen, youth sports groups scramble to adapt to last-minute rule changes

CALGARY — The first step of Alberta’s plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions saw trainers and clients in the gym for the first time in two months on Monday.

“Exercise is just so important for physical and mental health, so any form of having people in here to work out is a win and we’ll take it,” said Amber Kelsey-Foster with GoodLife Fitness.

One-on-one training is now permitted in the province, though distancing is required and masks are mandatory. 

“Things have been very busy this morning. Lots of emails, lots of phone inquiries regarding personal training and the actual outline of what’s allowed and what’s not,” Kelsey-Foster said.

The plan for one-on-one training was unveiled more than a week ago. But many youth sports groups are scrambling to start again after getting the green light just days ago.

The Alberta Government announced on Saturday that youth sports groups are allowed to train and practice in groups no larger than 10 people. It’s a move that caught many off guard, with organizations like Hockey Calgary cancelling its season just days prior. 

It also was a surprise to some small Alberta municipalities — such as the hamlet of Indus and Town of Nanton — who pulled the ice out of their arenas last week, before the updated sports rules were released. 

“I was mad,” said Nanton Mayor Jennifer Handley.

“(The province) said ‘here’s Phase 1, here’s Phase 2, Phase 3.’ We thought ‘OK, we can plan off of this’,” she said.  

“Our ice came out on Thursday, their announcement came out Saturday.”

In Calgary, ice availability is also one of the biggest hurdles for organizations such as Ringette Calgary and Hockey Calgary.

Even though youth sports is now allowed in small groups, arena and recreation centres operated by the City of Calgary are still not open. 

“We need to make sure we can get the facilities open as safely as possible, we’re working to turn that around as quickly as we can,” said Jarret Hoebers with City of Calgary Recreation.

The city laid off about 90 per cent of its recreation department and needs to hire people back in order to reopen the facilities. There’s no timeline for when the city’s facilities will be able to reopen.

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