COVID-19: Alberta fitness industry reacts to latest Ontario public health measures

On the same day that the Ontario government announced fitness centres will be closing down as part of new health measures to prevent further spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Alberta representative for the Fitness Industry Council of Canada says he believes a situation like that in Alberta could be very harmful.

“There’s a lot of operators barely hanging on” says Scott Wildeman. “They are still trying to dig themselves out of the time last they were shut down.”

Local gym owners in Calgary echo Wildeman’s sentiment.

Read more: Ontario moves schools to online learning, bans indoor dining and issues new COVID capacity restrictions

Martin Venneri heads F45 in Marda Loop. He says while there’s always a concern that Alberta could follow in another province’s footsteps, he feels existing measures in place are keeping people safe.

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“Talking to members and the business community, people are confident that the Alberta government won’t shut us down this time with the [Restrictions Exemption Program].”

The spread of Omicron is the latest in a series of setbacks that the fitness industry has faced since the start of the pandemic, including a number of closures since March 2020.

However, the latest surge in cases doesn’t seem to be holding people back from following through on their New Year’s resolutions.

“We’ve noticed in the last week that the phone’s been ringing and the email has been hopping” says Venneri. “It looks like some people are ready to get back into shape.”

Read more: Alberta’s isolation period for COVID-19 cases drops from 10 days to 5

CrushCamp founder Emily Slaneff thinks the pandemic has resulted in more people caring about creating a healthy lifestyle.

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“Their routines have been kind of tossed up because of COVID…they’ve been forced inside…gyms have been shutd own” says Slaneff. “I think a lot of people are getting back to the point where they are ready to get moving again.”

Wildeman says if gyms do appear to be unusually quiet for the week of January, it’s not necessarily a reflection of the state of the industry.

He suggests that many parents have needed to make changes to their daily schedule as the kids are not yet back to school.

When asked about the possibility of implementing further restrictions at fitness centres, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Health says it continues to monitor the situation closely and will consider further action if needed to maintain capacity in our health-care system.

Click to play video: 'Tim Caulfield on COVID-19 misinformation as Omicron spreads during 5th wave in Alberta' Tim Caulfield on COVID-19 misinformation as Omicron spreads during 5th wave in Alberta

Tim Caulfield on COVID-19 misinformation as Omicron spreads during 5th wave in Alberta

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