Fitness club members return to gyms one year after pandemic

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It’s been one year since fitness clubs in Ontario were allowed to open without strict masking requirements and COVID protocols.

While many businesses faced difficulties during the pandemic, gyms were hard hit after being told they had to stay closed for 410 days.

“We were in that zone where we were the first to close and last to open. It was really tough,” said Chief Operating Officer Jason Sheridan of Goodlife Fitness, which has 200 locations across Canada.

Sheridan said that it’s been difficult for the fitness industry but he estimates about 75 per cent of his chain’s members have returned and he is hopeful more members will also rejoin the gym throughout the year.

“The cost of the pandemic is still there, so it’s going to be a long road back out of this, but the positive signs are there” said Sheridan.

Fitness clubs have been steadily filling back up over the past year, but memberships have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

When fitness clubs and studios were forced to stay closed during the pandemic due to COVID restrictions, many people switched to working out at home.

The President of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada Sara Hodson said about six million Canadians belonged to gyms before the pandemic and many have returned and are continuing to come back to clubs.

“In the last four or five months we have seen a significant uptick in Canadians going back to their fitness facilities” said Hodson.

CTV News spoke with members of a 24-hour Goodlife Fitness location on Yonge street in downtown Toronto.

Gezachew Tesfaye said he works in construction building homes and that he was relieved to be able to get back into his fitness routine at the gym.

“I find if I work out, I wake up refreshed and I feel more energized to start the day,” said Tesfaye.

Nadie said staying away from the gym during COVID was difficult and she said she was grateful to get back into her fitness program.

“Every time the restrictions were lifted I was in here. The first day it opened I was back in here doing my thing,” said Nadie.

Sheridan said members that have returned to the club are more engaged and using the gym facilities more often.

“The members are using the club more frequently and members are coming in multiple days a week and really getting the benefit of going to the gym” said Sheridan.

Hodson said there are 6,000 gyms in Canada and the industry is hoping the positive trend continues.

“I think for 2023 we are going to see memberships increased and surpass where we were for pre-pandemic levels” said Hodson.

Hodson also added that more people want to work out, not just for their physical health, but also their mental health and that when people stay fit they are also less reliant on the health care system.

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