Even though the last of Alberta’s latest COVID-19 public health measures will be removed on Wednesday, some gym and fitness operators are scrambling to find creative ways to encourage patrons to return to classroom workouts.
“Next to restaurants, we have been the hardest hit industry and relative to the damage caused, we have received little to no financial support or (response) from our government leaders,” said Adrianna Britton, owner of Barre West and a member of the Save Fitness advocacy group. A B.
“It’s a one-day-at-a-time marathon over a sprint,” she said.
Britton says that in addition to offering promotions and discounts to his clientele, his facility now has separate rooms for one-on-one training and red light therapy treatment.
“Just another extension of what we do for health and wellness that helps diversify what we offer,” she said.
The co-founder of indoor cycling franchise YYC Cycle has started offering incentives to fill the spin studio.
“We actually deposited a free guest pass into each person’s account. We have over 1,000 (new people) who have come,” said YYC & YEG Cycle Studio Partner Andrew Obrecht.
“People are excited to get back into it, it’s just that kick in the ass that people are looking for, to do it.”
However, Obrecht says it could take years for membership to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Obrecht says that while many companies have shifted to online courses, his has not in order to continue focusing on building communities in studios. The doors of the Stax Cycle Club in Inglewood remained closed for two years of the pandemic, as owners turned to streaming spin lessons for members with indoor bikes at home.
After four months in a temporary location earlier this year, co-founder Emily Paton decided to keep in-person classes closed to focus on online workouts over the summer.
“I think in the fall things will start to bounce back, but I really think it’s going to be about finding a way to work and lean into the hybrid (model),” Paton said.
She also said the province is hurting the fitness industry with frequent shutdowns, capacity limits and the restrictions waiver program or vaccine passport system.
“We were labeled as non-essential, which was quite confusing. Regular physical fitness helps support heart health…it reduces depression,” she said.
HIGH INTENSITY FITNESS AT HOME
High-intensity workouts faced more restrictions than other workouts that did not cause users to become out of breath.
Many group fitness providers have pivoted to offering online classes that now rival the comforts of home.
“People kind of fell into their own little rhythm at home with online fitness. That was the kickoff of our on-demand fitness for High Fitness,” said Eden Schell, Instructor at High Fitness.
Schell says the company also offers an app for virtual workouts, and it plans to offer outdoor workouts over the summer.
She says the fitness industry typically sees a downturn over the summer as people take vacations or explore the outdoors, so they hope momentum will build by September.
“In the fall, we hope to bring that energy back.”