A local fitness manager says she isn't supporting Toronto's gym closures.
Morgan Thomas is the General Manager of local gym Sweat and Tonic, which opened in November 2019.
On October 10, 2020, the gym was forced to close for 28 days as the region moved back into a modified stage 2.
Thomas spoke with Narcity about the current shutdowns, and how she says more transparency is needed in order to justify them.
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What steps did you take to operate your Toronto gym safely during the pandemic?
The facility implemented a number of safety measures before reopening, such as temperature checks, reduced capacity, and plexiglass dividers.
"We've had over 15,000 guests through the space since we reopened in July, and have had zero confirmed cases, both between our guests and our team members," Thomas says.
Despite this, Sweat and Tonic was mandated to close along with other venues in the city.
"It was surprising to hear the news and quite frankly we don't agree with it. We haven't seen any data to prove that that's where COVID-19 cases are coming from."
How have the Toronto closures affected your clientele?
After the closures were announced, Thomas says guests were "devastated that this was going to be their last class again. They feel like this is their outlet.
"This is what's sort of keeping them sane through this otherwise really challenging time."
Thomas believes that during a pandemic, fitness services should be essential.
"We're here trying to achieve the same thing as health care professionals are. We want people to be healthy, to be happy, to be physically fit and also mentally well."
Thomas noted that after the first closure, she saw increases in anxiety and stress, as well as decreased mobility.
"Over and over again you hear guests saying that this is what's keeping them going."
Are Toronto gym closures needed?
Thomas expressed that she was not "seeing facts or science to back up this decision."
She found the decision to close gyms "disappointing and frustrating," especially when other public venues remain open.
"We're seeing spaces like malls and restaurants etc. remain open, which just doesn't really make a lot of sense."
The way people move freely in places like grocery stores and malls is potentially more unsafe than fitness facilities, she pointed out.
"Ultimately if the data shows that being closed is the best decision, then we would a 100% support that. We're just not seeing that right now."