Charlotte Rawlinson leads a Get Up & Go class at the Hope rec centre Dec. 4. Exercise classes will look quite different going forward, including the requirement to maintain a two-metre physical distance between all participants. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard Charlotte Rawlinson leads a Get Up & Go class at the Hope rec centre Dec. 4. Exercise classes will look quite different going forward, including the requirement to maintain a two-metre physical distance between all participants. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Hope’s fitness businesses prepare to get moving again, in a new COVID-19 reality

As order closing gym and indoor fitness facilities lifts, going to the gym will look differently

With Fraser Health choosing to lift an order which kept gyms closed for the past month, Hope and area’s exercise-focused businesses are choosing to go a number of different routes with their services.

An order forcing the closure of all indoor gyms and fitness facilities was put in place for the entire Fraser Health region April 15. The order came about after some facilities were found not complying with enhanced cleaning and physical distancing. The order was lifted May 19 and replaced by requirements for gym owners to be able to re-open.

All facilities need to have a written COVID-19 mitigation plan. Other guidelines include limiting the number of patrons to allow for physical distancing, cleaning equipment between each use, screening patrons for symptoms of COVID-19 and barring access to people who answer yes to any screening questions.

Some things will look a little different for gym-goers – you can’t get within two metres of someone else in an exercise class, you’ll have to bring your water bottle filled up as self-serve drink stations should be closed, and you should arrive ready to work out as locker rooms may be closed.

Read more: Fraser Health gives go ahead for gyms to reopen on May 19

The largest fitness provider in Hope, the recreation centre, is closed for the forseeable future. The Fraser Valley Regional District runs the centre, which offers Hope and area residents a gym, pool and sauna facilities as well as group exercise classes.

There is no re-open date to share yet said the regional district’s chief administrative officer Jennifer Kinneman. “Staff are working on integrating WorkSafe, provincial health, and (BC Recreation and Parks Association) requirements into its own restart plan, and will share that info as soon as possible,” she stated via email. “With a large facility and many stakeholders, there are a lot of logistics to consider before reopening is possible.”

Others who offer movement-based classes are deciding on how best to serve their clients again. Hope’s dance studio is now open and plans are still in the air for the local yoga studio, meanwhile karate practitioners will have to wait until September to practise.

The Silver-Hope Dance Academy opened for a final month of classes Sunday, before a summer break for most dancers. Studio owner Michelle Richardson said it’s important to open for this month, as well as hold some form of physically distanced recital, to honour the hard work dancers, teachers and organizers put in throughout the year.

“Dance is just so much more for kids, than just learning how to dance,” Richardson said. “It’s a community, it’s a support network, it’s friendships, it’s self confidence, self-esteem, fun. They’ve been stuck inside for a long time.”

A recital will be held June 20, what format this will take is still being worked out. The students who dance competitively will also be partaking in dance competitions at the end of July – no group dances, but duos, trios and solos are on – which allows dancers to compete in three out of four competitions this year. “Everybody in this industry has been hit hard and also trying to find creative ways to get our dancers to be able to showcase all their hard work,” she said.

The dance studio is doing what the guidelines urge and then some to keep students safe, Richardson said. Dancers will enter the studio through two separate doors, each of which will have a touchless thermometer to check dancers’ temperatures. In addition to sanitizing, markings for physical distancing and teachers wearing masks, class sizes are being kept small and even dance routines need to be adjusted so dancers don’t touch each other.

Richardson said the guidelines from the province have been clear and straightforward – now it’s all about both the studio and the dance parents doing their part to adhere to them.

“I’m trying to make it as easy and safe as possible to come back and finish dance for a fe weeks, they’ve been working hard all year and we’ve got all their costumes,” she said.

Monica Cummins runs The Space, a studio on Commission Street offering yoga, pilates, massage and art installations. On May 16, Cummins informed clients the ability to re-open has been a ‘pleasant, although somewhat sudden’ surprise as gyms and other exercise and movement-based businesses weren’t expected to reopen until summer. “I will be taking the remainder of May to figure out the best ways to move forward with The Space,” she stated. “I will update you soon, once I have it nailed down. Thank you for your continued support, and kind words over the past couple of months.

Marja Losier with the Hope Yama Dojo, which offers karate classes for children and adults as well as weekly yoga classes, said the dojo won’t open again until early September after closing mid-March. The dojo usually closes in July and August anyways, Losier said, and with the requirements to sanitize instruments and equipment between use in place it wasn’t worth it to re-open for the month of June.

“We have so many weapons and so much gear, and a lot of it is communal. So that means we are going to be sanitizing everything everyday,” she said. “We will wait until September, that’s when we’ll have registration again and go for ten months.”

The dojo will survive Losier assured. Some funding came in for the first two months they were closed and her husband and the dojo’s Sensei Norm Losier is able to continue his craft as an electrician. This will cover five months of property and liability taxes, as well as utilities Marja explained.

The yoga classes the dojo offers are now being held Mondays and Wednesdays online, via the Zoom videoconferencing system.

-with files from Ashley Wadhwani

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