Being able to visit the gym for an energizing morning workout or to decompress after a long day is something that many British Columbians took for granted before the COVID-19 crisis hit.
Studios were forced to close their doors to the public temporarily, offering virtual classes instead of in-person training. While at-home workouts are preferred by some, the element of motivation that comes with physically being at a fitness centre is unmatched.
This is something that fitness expert Chris Smith understands well. He recently acquired Steve Nash Fitness Club with a group of partners, rebranding the gyms as Fitness World. As the first order of business, they are opening 15 fitness clubs across the Lower Mainland.
Daily Hive caught up with Smith, the president and CEO of the company, to find out what it’s like to open a gym during a pandemic, and what gym-goers can expect when they visit.
First, it’s important to know that Fitness World is honouring all existing service agreements for Steve Nash Fitness Club members (personal training services and pre-paid memberships included).
The new fitness company is upgrading gym equipment, launching a small-group training program called THE WORX, virtual fitness, nutritional support, and also adding services like hydro massage and tanning, which will be bundled into the membership.
For Smith, it’s about creating spaces where everyone can feel safe and supported as they work towards their fitness goals. With a low-cost payment option, Fitness World members can enjoy rates starting at $7.50 bi-weekly.
Why has Smith chosen this time to launch? He says there are many reasons. “I came to Vancouver 10 years ago to expand the footprint of fitness in BC and really felt that work was unfinished. There was still a lot more work to do.”
He explains that during this difficult time, when mental health is impacted, it’s important for people to get involved in fitness and use it as an outlet to make meaningful progress.
“From my perspective, there’s no safer place to be than in a fitness facility,” Smith explains. “Now, health clubs and fitness gyms are cleaning more than they ever have before.”
At Fitness World, this is especially the case as health, safety, and comfortable member experiences are a top priority. In terms of the new protocols, members can expect contactless check-in (via the formerly SN Clubs app), hand sanitizing stations, frequent cleaning of equipment, and physical distancing measures. Class sizes are also limited.
“We continue to comply with all the WorkSafeBC standards,” says Smith. “We’ve got hand sanitizers, spray bottles, paper towels, you name it from a cleaning supply standpoint, to make sure that everybody can be safe.”
Members are also asked to contribute to the safety plan by practicing frequent handwashing, spraying down equipment before and after use, and staying at home if they feel unwell.
“Make sure that you’re good. And if necessary, obviously go get tested,” says Smith. “Do things that you need to do to make sure that you’re keeping yourself, your family, and your community safe at all times.”
By the end of August, Fitness World will be putting 1,000 people back to work with the opening of its 15 clubs. Its Granville Signature, Downtown, Cambie Street, Kitsilano, Surrey, and Richmond locations are currently open, to name a few.
“This is a positive thing that’s happening, putting people back to work and really doing something incredible,” says Smith.
He explains, “I’ve got an incredible partner that was willing to risk significant capital during the middle of a pandemic to reopen a business because he believed it was the right thing to do. I believe it’s the right thing to do.”
To learn more about the programs and passes available at Fitness World, visit fitnessworld.ca.