Indoor gyms across Toronto have been ordered to shut down a second time as part of the province’s newest iteration Stage 2, but not all facilities have closed.
Several sports facilities providing members athletic training continue to operate, albeit with heavily modified offerings, which has caused some confusion for Torontonians looking for a workout.
If it’s a regular exercise class you’re looking for, bad news. Those are still banned across the board.
However, if you become a member of a sports club, you might just be able to train like an athlete — with strict social distancing measures, of course.
According to provincial rules, sport clubs are exempted from the list of gyms that have been forced to cease operations.
Businesses like the kickboxing gym 9Round Fitness and Northern Karate all continue to operate thanks to the fact that they’re overseen by PSOs, or Provincial Sports Organizations, like Boxing Ontario or the Ontario Karate Federation.
While none of these gyms are legally allowed to hold fitness classes, they are open to members for modified training, which looks different at every facility.
For some, it is contactless, socially-distanced, punching bag training. For others, it’s more like distanced kickboxing classes.
In fact, anything that requires individuals coming within two metres of each other is still banned across the board. Weights and exercise machines are still not allowed.
“None of our member clubs run ‘classes’,” says Fred Ten Eyck, the Secretary of Boxing Ontario (which oversees more than 150 clubs across the province) and director of the organization’s COVID-19 Task Force.
“…They are organizations which train athletes and therefore do not fall under the closing requirement.”
It’s easy to see why there’s confusion, even among PSO’s and their member clubs.
During the province’s first round of Stage 2, clubs operating under these amateur sports bodies were allowed to stay open under Reg O. 572/20 of the Reopening Ontario Act.
But according to City of Toronto representatives, “…The ability to be open due to being a Provincial Sports Organization is from a previous version of provincial Stage 2 regulations and not currently applicable.”
However, the most recent amendments to Ontario’s regulations indicate that gyms, health clubs, yoga and dance studios, and other fitness facilities can open, as long as they comply with a laundry list of conditions that make most gyms pretty much inoperable.
The onslaught of local bylaw and public health orders make navigating the second round of Stage 2 a “muddy” process, says Ten Eyck.
“We’re still weeding through legal opinions that can change tomorrow. A lot of it comes down to the fact that technically it comes down to a provincial order, not bylaw enforceability.”
Some gyms like Body By Dex are requiring members to register as a Recreational Boxer under Boxing Ontario, with a registration fee of $20, while others are not.
Boxing Ontario hasn’t been contacted specifically by the province but the organization has been working with the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to clarify legislation.
The city says that any businesses not complying with regulations will be investigated, but Ten Eyck is confident that any of the member clubs that do choose to open will pass the test.