This hasn’t been the best weekend for many of us. Days “off” are not always days off. Thanks to all our well-connected and resourceful members! This weekend I’ve been advocating for clear communication and fair treatment. It is a very confusing time to be in the fitness industry.
We want to be compliant and to be seen to be compliant with the safety standards deemed best for slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Vancouver. It is not my place to say what these measures should entail, my responsibility is putting the suggested standards into practice and making sure that we remain compliant.
The trouble arises when the expectations and standards are not well-communicated. Based on the WorkSafe BC standards for our industry I would say we are in compliance with current safety protocol requirements. In several areas we exceed the standards. And yet the order was given that by 20:00 hours November 7th 2020 all fitness group classes should cease for a 2 week period. Personal training is allowed to continue.
In compliance we promptly shifted our classes to Zoom and began lending out our equipment in earnest. And then discovered that gyms not conducting group classes, such as Steve Nash, where members work out at their own designated station, are allowed to continue operating even though as of last Tuesday masks were not even required in those gyms while our coaches and members were already wearing masks.
Based on this, some gyms are staying open. So what does this mean for us? Does it mean we could stay open if we ran Open Gyms only but held no coached classes? As many members have pointed out, the decision to close or remain open is apparently being left open to interpretation and many fitness and sports facilities have interpreted the guidelines as permission to remain open. We are consulting with our legal counsel and medical professionals to try to decipher the vague guidelines and what they mean for us. We have submitted emails to our local MLA and to both Doctors Henry and Daly asking for clarification (thanks to our Empower insiders who got me these contacts). When the WorkSafe BC COVID hotline opens Monday at 8:05am one of our team will call to get clarification from that angle.
Meanwhile I’ve gone on record with CBC News requesting clearer communication and guidelines for our industry. Thanks to Joy for the courage to be interviewed by CBC on our behalf! And thanks to one of our private members for setting that interview up for us!
And once again, thanks to our Empower team of medical professionals who have rushed to support us with messages like this one:
Dear Dr Daly,
I am writing as an emergency room physician in support of keeping CrossFit Empower open over the coming weeks, as it already has a robust Covid safety plan in place. CrossFit Empower is a small gym in Vancouver that is unfortunately being forced to shut down due to the Public Health Orders announced yesterday by Dr Bonnie Henry and Mr Adrian Dix. However, I feel that there are unique circumstances that warrant an individual look at this particular gym amidst the general orders for gyms across VCHA.
As a client of this gym, I have been closely involved with its Covid safety plan since gyms were first allowed to reopen in Phase 2 in late Spring. Business owner Corey Lapell has consulted my colleague, Dr ________ (also a client) and I extensively, in order to ensure that his gym is following best practices and keeping all his clients safe. We are happy to say that there have been NO cases of Covid transmission through this gym since it reopened.
Speaking to specific points of CrossFit Empower’s safety plan:
1. Clients must wear a mask and hand-sanitize on entering and exiting each class
2. clients are physically distanced from each other by a MINIMUM of 6 feet, at dedicated workout stations which they are not allowed to leave without wearing a mask
3. Clients are asked to workout facing away from each other (and towards walls) to minimize aerosol spread while breathing heavily
4. the gym provides a bleach solution and hand sanitizer at each station; the bleach is sprayed onto every piece of equipment that the client has used before the equipment is returned to its original location.
5. the gym is very well-ventilated by use of large windows and doors that are left open to outside air (you must actually see this in-person to see how much fresh air is flowing through the facility) no matter what the outside temperature!
6. Number of clients are limited to ensure physical distancing is always followed.
7. rigorous cleaning protocols are applied by gym supervisors before and after clients’ use of the gym.
8. Contact tracing is automated and utilized, as clients have to register online ahead of their workouts.
9. the gym supervisor wears a mask and is physically distanced for the duration of each workout session
In reference to the PHO comments about group-based sports and fitness activities: “These activities can be replaced with individual exercise or practice that allows everyone to maintain a safe physical distance.” Is it safe to say that individual exercise at a stationary spot with adequate physical distancing is still allowed? The gym supervisor is always maintaining physical distancing from the clients for the duration of their workouts.
“Indoor group physical activities can only resume when the business has updated their COVID-19 safety plan and received plan approval from their local Medical Health Officer. ” As far as I and my medical colleagues at this gym are concerned, the business already has an updated and rigorous COVID-19 safety plan in place; we simply need the stamp of approval from you. How can we make this approval process happen in an expedited manner?
I believe that exceptions should be made to the general Public Health Order for unique situations like CrossFit Empower’s. The press conference yesterday did not specify how quickly Worksafe BC and bylaw officers would be able to visit the numerous small businesses that are affected regarding following guidelines in a timely manner. Many other local small gyms and fitness studios have been forced to close due to the pandemic, and I would hate to see the same fate for this well-run and conscientiously responsible gym.
Thank you for listening to my concerns. I would be pleased to walk anyone from the Public Health Office through the facility this week to show them the safety protocols in place.
Emergency Physician, _____________
We are aware that different businesses are interpreting Saturday’s new guidelines in different ways and that there are a variety of ways we can navigate this which will provide our members varying levels of gym access.
I’m afraid that as in early March and late May we once again find ourselves in a rapidly changing landscape. When we have better information from WorkSafe BC and/or the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority we will adapt and modify our plan accordingly and alert you to the changes.
No doubt it is as frustrating for you as it has been for us. From what I’m hearing there is no reason to believe that circumstances are going to improve in coming weeks as cases here on the West Coast continue to rise. However last night’s restrictions are interpreted, full closure in the coming weeks may soon be a very real possibility for many sectors. Let’s brace for the worst all the while hoping that we get the green light to resume regular operations quickly!
Please make sure you register for the Zoom classes that you plan to attend so that we schedule a coach for your desired time zone. We will cut back unpopular/unused times.
Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells or a backpack loaded with books.
Warm Up 1 min Full Body Rock
10 Scap Rock
5/5 1-arm scap rock
10 palms down scap rock
10/10 Scap Rotations
10 Scap Retractions
Single arm Shoulder Press