Some Bradford residents are starting to cancel their gym memberships and switching to in-home workouts to stay active, as the ongoing lockdowns continue to impact local gyms.
Now almost a year into the pandemic, some residents have frozen or cancelled their unused gym memberships and have invested in fitness equipment to keep fit at home.
Like many other businesses, local gyms poured thousands of dollars into redesigning around Covid regulation, not only to abide by government guidelines but to ensure clients felt safe upon reopening. Unfortunately, with the constant shutdowns, gyms are starting to lose clients.
For Bradford resident Miguel Mihalis Kariotis, creating his own ‘garage gym' was the only thing he could depend on for his workouts during the pandemic.
About four months before the second lockdown, he joined a local gym to workout.
"It was the first time I decided to dedicate going to the gym because I wasn’t working and I needed to start being active again,” shares Kariotis, adding that he was a smaller guy with a flex-weight between 120-130 pounds at 5’10. “After three months of hard work and consistency, for the first time in my life, I finally surpassed 135 and hit 150 pounds. Then, Boxing Day came around and everything shut down but I was already on such a roll from the last four months, I didn’t want to stop. So, it took me a little more than a week, but I built a small gym in my garage.”
After the second lockdown lifted and gyms reopened again in February, Kariotis returned to his gym and resumed his workouts. However, he admits that although it was great to be back, the thought of cancelling his membership didn cross his mind, especially now with Simcoe-Muskoka back in the grey lockdown zone.
Bradford resident Siobhan McCarthy stopped going to her local gym and made her own workout room in the basement.
"I was an avid gym-goer before the pandemic started so it was only natural for me to start working out from home last March," she said. "Over the last year, I started to slowly build a home gym and to my surprise - I love it! It’s so convenient to be able to “go to the gym” in your home and not be tied to a schedule. I started doing virtual on-demand classes which allow for a flexible schedule and still make you feel like you are part of a class. I do miss the social atmosphere of the gym so it will be nice to add some in-person classes with friends when I feel comfortable. For now, my virtual workout friends are keeping me motivated as I work out in my home gym.”
Similarly, Dr. Leeann Ng, owner of Be Well Chiropractic Clinic in Bradford has been doing her workouts at home.
Ng has been an active member of the Bradford West Gwillimbury Leisure Centre for years. In order to maintain the level of exertion needed to perform her duties as a chiropractor, Ng must be in top physical shape, she says. Since the lockdowns, she has had to find alternate resources to retain her muscle mass.
“Since the lockdown in March 2020, I was lucky I could continue my workouts at home,” shares Ng. “There were so many restrictions… and going to the gym was difficult due to those restrictions. [So], I froze my membership.”
Ng did attend a gym for the month of December, but after the second lockdown, she resorted back to her home gym and continued to enjoy what limited outdoor activities were available to the public.
“Even though I have enough equipment at home to carry out my workouts, I enjoy going to a gym to get away, without any interruptions,” explains Ng. “I enjoy going to a gym for the social aspect; going to the gym is a great way to switch my workouts and enjoy activities like swimming. I enjoy the outdoors and this year we have taken advantage of community run [skate] rinks and the ski slopes that opened last week. This year has been nothing but chaos, making going to gyms difficult.”
Ng plans on requesting a refund for her gym membership, as she hasn't been to the leisure centre in almost a year.
“It seems to be less complicated to workout at home these days… who knows how many more lockdowns are coming this year,” said Ng.
Nick Warman, manager of recreation and client services with the BWG Leisure Centre says there is definitely less users of the leisure centre as a result of the pandemic but is unsure of the exact loss of clientele.
“Due to the restrictions placed on fitness and other services under the reopening framework, it is difficult to measure [the loss], as capacity limits are much less now than during normal periods,” notes Warman. “The pandemic has impacted participation as provincial restrictions have limited the type of services available, along with capacity requirements. Recent approval of the town budget has permitted the commencement of refurbishment to parts of the facility and equipment… Residents who return to use the centre (eventually), will find a system that is both safe and secure for their enjoyment within the restrictions prescribed by the province and local health unit.”
The town continues to share updates with the community on their website and social media outlets to post information pertinent to the centre’s reopening and associated services.
Some gyms, including the leisure centre continue to offer clients virtual workouts and online memberships, or have frozen accounts as a courtesy until people feel comfortable resuming in person workouts.