Open Letter to the Premiers of Canada from the Fitness Industry

To the Premiers of Canada:

Health and wellness have never been more essential to our country as they are at this very moment. 

We know each of you is under immense pressure to stop the spread of COVID-19 in your province. We are writing to ask that you consider scientific evidence, Canadians’ mental and physical health, and not shut down gyms and fitness centers that can operate safely. 

As leaders in the fitness and wellness industry, we value above all else the health and wellbeing of the millions of members (and staff) who visit the tens of thousands of gyms, clubs, and studios operating across the 10 provinces and 3 territories. We are equally committed to doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 – and our members, who are health conscious, share this mindset. 

Here is what we know: There is clear evidence that the fitness industry is not the problem when it comes to the spread of the virus. 

Evidence shows the fitness industry is not spreading COVID-19. This past spring (mid-March), we closed our facilities in good faith and based on your mandates to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. Given how little was known about the new virus, it was the right thing to do for the safety and well-being of our members and employees. We then worked within each province to develop stringent safety and sanitation protocols for reopening fitness locations – including limited capacities, distancing mandates, increased sanitation, and cleaning standards; we also looked into face mask requirements for staff members and more. 

It was important for us to share these rigorous reopening standards with our members, who are health conscious and understand that our facilities are reopening in a safe and responsible manner. 

Today, since reopening, we have evidence that gyms, clubs, and studios are not causing the current virus spikes across the Country. Therefore, remaining open, because of our ability to contact trace and sanitize, should be taken into strong consideration – especially to support the mental and physical health of our members and the community during this unprecedented time.

Additionally, new research from the University of Oslo found no COVID-19 transmissions associated with fitness centers in a randomized trial of reopened fitness facilities. (As a result, Norway reopened its gyms nationwide.) 

Meanwhile… there is an absence of evidence. 

It is worth noting that our industry has seen NO tracing data provided by public health officials that indicates that gyms, clubs, or studios in Canada are contributing to the spread of the virus. 

And let’s not forget: Exercise strengthens immune systems 

Moderate exercise has been shown time and again to help immune systems. Data shows that obesity increases the likelihood of hospitalization with a COVID-19 infection six-fold. 

However, according to worldwide fitness tracker data, physical activity has decreased by 5% since the pandemic began – no doubt, in part to the shutdown of gyms, clubs, and studios. The millions of Canadians who represent our members make a conscious decision to take care of their individual physical health by working out. They also know that exercise has emotional and mental benefits as well. These Canadians are worthy of having access to the gyms, clubs, and studios to take care of their health. 

Combined, these data points offer clear indications that the safety and sanitation policies implemented at gyms, clubs, and studios that have been allowed to reopen are effective – and that these businesses may pose little to no additional risk for COVID-19 transmission compared to other public places. 

Plus, our industry provides an essential service to help Canadians stay healthy and strong. The vast majority of gyms, clubs, and studios across the Canada are small, locally-owned businesses. They provide essential services to their members; they are responsible members of their community and are safe to operate according to all current available scientific evidence. 

We call on you and your respective ministries of health, to consider the evidence on where the virus is spreading when making decisions and allow gyms, clubs, and studios to safely operate in your province or territory. As an industry, we will continue to operate in good faith to ensure the facilities that millions of Canadians trust to help them stay healthy and strong are clean, safe, and operating in a responsible manner. 

To your health and wellness, 

Following is a list of fitness industry leaders representing thousands of health and fitness businesses across Canada who are part of Fitness Industry Council of Canada’s coalition:

Chuck Runyon, co-founder and CEO, Self Esteem Brands

David Mortensen, co-founder and president, Self Esteem Brands

Stacy Anderson, President, Anytime Fitness

Amy Halford, Chief Marketing Officer, Self Esteem Brands

Scott Wildeman, President of FIC, Sr. Vice President of Operations of GYMVMT

Skye Kaiss, Vice President of FIC, Managing Partner of Evolution Fitness

Clive Caldwell, CEO, Cambridge Group of Clubs

Krishea Holloway, President of Curves NA., Inc.

Angela Longstaffe, Owner, Body and Soul Health & Wellness

Jeff Ardron, Owner, Fitness Unlimited

Blake MacDonald, Canadian Master Franchisor, Multi-Unit Franchisee, Orangetheory Fitness

Alicia Orleski, Director of Development & Operations, Orangetheory Fitness

Perry Tucciarone, Director, National Accounts & Business Development, Merchant Treasury Services

Nasser Obeid, President, JHT Fitness Canada

Ben McGinn, AB Territory Representative, JHT Fitness Canada

Balal Anwar, Director, Motion Fitness

Stephanie Jeffrey, Executive Director, Manitoba Fitness Council

Jon Brady, President, Midtown Athletic Clubs

Brian Townsend, Vice President, LIV North

Chuck Kelly, CEO and Founder, Movati Athletic

Jeremy Gill, Regional Sales Manager, PRECOR

Lee Cassells, CEO, 

Rob Dickson, Infrared Fitness

Trevor Zak, CEO, Fitness Inc.

Eveline Canape, Vice-président, Énergie Cardio

Dino Camiré, Owner, One Family Fitness Centre

Kathryn McKenzie, Owner, Surefire Fitness

Danielle Knot, Owner, Club Pilates

Terry Patryluk, President, The Gym Profits Group

Katherine MacKeigan, Executive Director, Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association / Vice Chair – International Confederation of Registry of Exercise Professionals 

Chris Ince & Laura Cousineau, Owners, U.N.I Training – Pointe St Charles

Curt Griffin, Owner, U.N.I Training – Vieux Montréal

David MacLeod, Owner, Studio U – St. Lambert

Shayne Jensen & Christine Jensen, Owners, Jensen Fitness

Tyler McRae, Core Spin Club

Mike Richert, Executive Vice President, Fitness International, LLC

Jarrett Elliott, 5 Star Fitness

Emily Slaneff, Founder, Crush Camp

Jamie Britt, Franchise Sales Executive, f45

Marcy Verburg, Owner, Snapfitness

Tammy Rossi Apostolovski, Absolute Fitness for Women

Mike Mak, General Manager, Fitness Connection

Alec Pinchin, President, Fitness Forum Ltd.

Michael Clegg, Connect Athletics & Rehabilitation

Diane Kurm, Owner, True Path Yoga and Pilates

John Colasimone, Owner, Valley East Snap Fitness

Leigh Ostiguy, Owner, Snap Fitness Sylvan Lake

Sheri Smyth, Owner, Cycle-ology Spin Studio

David Adams, Snap Fitness Thornhill

Colin DeWolfe, Back Alley Fitness

Tammy Slauenwhite, Fitness Lifestyle Coach & Educator, GO FIT LIFE!