Fitness chains ask members in COVID-19 hotspots not to travel out-of-town for a workout

Video shows an unusually long lineup at a gym in Milton

The provincial government may have forced gyms in Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa to close for 28 days but some fitness chain members are now just heading to the suburbs to get swole.

Most members of fitness chains like Anytime Fitness, LA Fitness and GoodLife, have memberships that normally allow them to visit any of their locations.

However, in light of the Ontario government’s decision to re-enter Stage 2 in some regions chains are now asking members not to travel from higher transmission areas to workout in other regions. They’ve even begun freezing memberships.

“Following the recommendations presented by the Ontario Government, GoodLife asks Members not to travel from higher transmission areas to lower transmission areas at this time, and that Members located in Ottawa, Peel Region or Toronto not visit Clubs in regions outside of their own during this temporary closure,” GoodLife wrote on its website.

“If your home address is in a region other than Ottawa, Peel Region or Toronto, and you wish to use a club in your home address region, you are approved to do so. If you choose to work out during this temporary closure, your Membership dues will automatically begin again from the date you first access the Club.”

In response to an upset member on Twitter, GoodLife said they have now frozen memberships for people in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

LA Fitness issued a similar statement to members, saying they’ve already frozen memberships for people in regions that are back in Stage 2.

During a news conference on Wednesday, the province did indicate it will review restrictions surrounding gyms. This comes after an outbreak at SPINCO in Hamilton, where 69 COVID-19 cases were confirmed.

During a news conference on Wednesday, the province did indicate it will review restrictions surrounding gyms. This comes after an outbreak at SPINCO in Hamilton, where 69 COVID-19 cases were confirmed.

“I think we do need to review the guidelines for gyms,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health.

If you’re wondering how gyms have fared during COVID-19, there’s some new data out of the US that looked at millions of member check-in data across 2,873 gyms, sports clubs and boutique fitness centers over the course of three months. The study concluded that fitness facilities are safe and are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

During a news conference on Wednesday, the province did indicate it will review restrictions surrounding gyms. This comes after an outbreak at SPINCO in Hamilton, where 69 COVID-19 cases were confirmed.

The research was conducted by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and MXM, a technology and knowledge transfer company.

They collected data from May 1 through August 6, 2020, comparing member check-in data (number of gym visits) from a number of fitness facilities in the United States with self-reported infection rates – such as Anytime Fitness and Orangetheory. After nearly 50 million check-ins over that three-month period, the study found that a nominal 0.0023 percent tested positive for COVID-19.

“As recently as a few months ago, the data correlating fitness facility visits and mitigating risk was practically nonexistent. All that’s changed – and for the better,” said MXM CEO Blair McHaney.

“It’s become abundantly clear that the safety measures gyms, sports clubs and boutique fitness centers have in place are not only incredibly effective at keeping their membership safe, but also curbing any potential spread of COVID-19 during a time when we all need access to exercise facilities to stay healthy.”