The Government of Ontario has announced a plan for businesses and services to start re-opening after being forced to close since mid-March. Gyms are not explicitly mentioned, but it appears we belong in phase 3. This announcement notes a requirement for 2 to 4 weeks of reduction of new cases in order to start and also between phases. If that gets followed, and if everything goes well, I think that means we can reopen in mid-June, although I sure wouldn’t be on that estimate. I think we’re all frustrated by this uncertainty, but also getting used to it.

Since we can’t open yet, we will continue to provide video-coached and at-home workouts for all our clients who want to keep fit and stay strong during this time. We’ll also continue to try to keep everyone connected with their gym buddies and friendly neighbourhood trainers via our workoutspace on Slack. If you haven’t tried these options yet, but now you’re thinking you might like to, let me know. You’ll be in good company!

For those of you who have not yet tried the video-coached sessions, I highly recommend it. When I first offered it, I was skeptical. In fact this is how I introduced it: “I have no idea if the video coaching will work, so know that if you try it but then it turns into a spectacular failure, we will, shut it down! ” Amazingly it did not end up being a spectacular failure. Or a failure at all. It’s actually really good. It’s almost as good as being at the gym. Seriously. Ok, the equipment isn’t as good (for most of you), but the social element is really nice, and we get the opportunity to provide instant feedback on form as well as guidance about when/whether/how to make exercises more challenging.

So far we have focused entirely on our (amazing) existing clients. We’re now, ready to open up our training to anyone who is interested. So, if you are keen to workout with us, or know someone who is, drop us a line, or head over to the Custom Strength website for a little light reading.

What will re-opening entail?

Whenever we get to re-open, there will be two certainties: We need to be able to maintain physical distancing, and we need to clean well and clean often.

Here’s how I think we’ll be able to make this work:

  • We’re going to make two mini-gyms! The big wall down the middle of the gym was one of the features at 151 Holland that I didn’t like, and now it looks like it’s going to be a saviour. Before we re-open, we’re going to reorganize the equipment so we have a full gym on each side of the wall so that there’s no need to move from room to room. As part of this, we’ll also assign you to either use the front or back door so that we can further reduce congestion. I’ll be honest, I’m a little excited at the prospect of rearranging all the furniture. 🙂
  • Within each mini-gym, we’ll review your workout sheet before you start and set up the weights you will need for your workout in one area to further reduce your need to cross paths with anyone else.
  • We’re going to go with a hockey rink model where each 60 minute session is actually 50 minutes of gym time plus 10 minutes of cleaning. This will give us time to sanitize everything in between clients, and also to set up the weights you will need. With this setup, you will likely get the same amount of workout in – it’ll just be slightly condensed.
  • We’re going to remove and store any equipment that can’t be sanitized. What comes to mind is foam rolls (too porous/too many crevasses), the rings (wood can absorb moisture making it difficult to sanitize), one of the TRXs (the one with the foam handles), and possibly the stability balls (I need to confirm whether the type of cleaner we will use will be safe for the integrity of the rubber). Don’t worry, we’ll find “fun” alternatives!
  • In the case of equipment that will need to be shared (squat racks, cable columns), we will arrange the timing such that each person will have access to it for a time during which nobody else will be able to use it. If anyone is uncomfortable with this, we can program your workout without any shared equipment (we have enough benches, kettlebells and barbells that you’ll be able to get a great workout without sharing).
  • We’ll keep the clipboards, but will remove the string that holds the pens. We’re not sure if we’ll provide pens or ask you to bring your own.
  • If you arrive early for your session, please wait outside, and we will be attentive to timing throughout your workout to ensure you finish on time so we can clean properly before the next person arrives. Staying beyond your regular time, will unfortunately not be possible for the next while.
  • We will screen everyone before they come in. This means we’ll ask you the same series of questions that you’re either already sick of answering, or you will be soon. But we’re going to ask them of you anyhow. Please answer the questions honestly, and if you do have any symptoms at all, please stay home. The health and safety of those around you depends on your diligence about this.
  • We’ll have several hand sanitizer containers around the gym for easy and frequent access, and we have sourced an unscented cleaner that is certified as anti-viral.
  • We’re purchasing new touchless paper towel dispensers for the bathrooms as well as new toilet paper dispensers. We’re also planning to add a touchless paper towel dispenser next to the water bottle sink.
  • I am not certain what we’ll do about masks yet, but my current thinking is that the trainers will wear either masks or face visors, and those of you working out will not – unless you choose to. My sense is that wearing masks while working out might not be a good option because you’ll be short of breath already, but if our Public Health Officials suggest otherwise, we will follow their lead.
  • We will have disposable gloves available if anyone feels more comfortable wearing them. Note, however, that you will not be permitted to bring your own gloves. The message from Public Health officials continues to be that clean hands is the best option.
  • We will discontinue open gym sessions at least initially.
  • We will continue to offer video-coached and at-home training after we re-open our physical space, at least initially, for anyone who prefers. We are also looking into a hybrid in-gym/at-home training option as well.

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