Jim’s Gym has decommissioned some of the threadmill to ensure appropriate social distancing. (MIchael Briones photo)

COVID-19: Some gyms re-open in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Fitness facilities create space to allow appropriate social distancing

Some gyms in Parksville Qualicum Beach have re-opened on May 19, with strict restrictions in place to ensure health authorities guidelines are followed.

Among those that are happy to be given the opportunity to re-open is Jim’s Gym and Iron Warehouse. Both had to close down like everyone else for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It hurt us,” said Jim Miller, who is one of the owners of Jim’s Gym. “Our expenses did not go down and we did not have any revenues. We did surive but there are other gyms that sadly are struggling to stay open. And I am sad to see that.”

Island Health gave fitness facilities the green light to re-open which is in line with the provincial government’s multi-phase plan to restart B.C.’s economy.

Meaghan Orcutt, who co-owns Iron Warehouse, also feels a lot better now that they’re open.

“This is a second home for a lot of people and I know not everyone understands it but the gym is an essential service for some of us,” said Orcutt.

When they re-opened on Tuesday May 19, Miller said there were a lot of enthusiastic and eager members who came out.

“It went very smoothly but the volume is down,” said Miller.

Jim’s gym now only allows 20 people inside every hour. To ensure the numbers are maintained, members are now asked to book their training day although drop-ins will be accepted if space is available.

To make sure that social distancing is followed, Miller said they’ve moved some of the equipment out to create space that will allow members to train without compromising the social distancing protocols. The heavy equipment that are difficult to move like the threadmill have also been decommissioned to ensure appropriate physical distancing.

“It’s now easier for people to use the equipment without violating the one metre separation from other members,” said Miller. “Some we’ve moved to the front room where we can spread them out and some of them we’ve rented them out to members. It has given us more space.”

READ MORE: Island Health gives go ahead for gyms to re-open on May 19

Both Miller and Orcutt indicated that they will be monitoring things to ensure sound public health practices are followed.

Miller sees the biggest challenge for most of the members is adhering to the safety guidelines.

“Don’t stay too close to each other, wipe down the equipment before and after you use it,” said Miller. “They’re just simple stuff but because people are not used to it, it’s not that simple for them to begin with.”

Orcutt said making sure that members are comfortable coming back to the gym is her objective.

“Our mental health is very important during this time so I needed to make sure people felt safe and comfortable coming back to their gym,” said Orcutt, who added that since they’ve opened everyone has been respectful and following social distancing protocols.

“People are just happy to be back in the gym,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a concern but Miller believes that people, regardless of whether they go to the gym or not, should always practice good health habits. That includes getting enough sleep, eating properly, getting enough exercise, washing your hands regularly and maintainomg an appropriate social distance from people you’re not familiar with.

“Just the obvious things,” Miller pointed out. “Rather than focus right now on everything that’s outside of our control, we can control the things that will have a major impact on our health. That’s what I would really like to see. That’s what we’re really trying to sell here.”


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