Reopening of gyms across Canada has not led to more coronavirus outbreaks
Alberta Health Services has confirmed it has received three complaints about a Calgary cycling studio that has become the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak.
RIDE Cycle Calgary ran invitation-only fitness classes at its 17th Avenue SW facility during the first week of July.
This week, Alberta Health added Ride Cycle to its list of confirmed outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. At the last count, the classes were linked to 42 cases.
AHS noted that the club has voluntarily closed and management has been in contact with the province regarding contact tracing.
An AHS spokesperson confirmed that at least three people who attended the fitness classes contacted the province between July 13 and July 21 to complain about the way the classes were run.
While Ride maintained that safety protocols were followed, those in attendance told Postmedia the bikes were not properly distanced, coaches were not wearing masks and fans were blowing multiple people.
When contacted about these concerns, a spokesperson for Ride Cycle referred Postmedia to a blog post about its response to the outbreak.
While the Ride Cycle case has gained media attention, it appears to be an outlier in Canada. Other provinces have reopened gyms and fitness centers without reporting outbreaks.
Precautions have been fairly standard across provinces, with new rules regarding limited capacity in gyms, strict physical distancing, increased health precautions and the use of masks.
Andrew Obrecht, co-owner of YYC Cycle, said his club reopened on Wednesday morning after temporarily shutting down as a precaution when some of its employees participated in the outbreak.
“Unfortunately it’s taken a few steps back because I think people were a little scared by the news that was coming out of this other studio,” Obrecht said.
In preparation for its reopening, he said, his studio underwent an AHS inspection and no changes were necessary.
“AHS has reassured us that we are going beyond our protocols within our studios,” said Obrecht.
One of the precautions they take is to require masks anywhere in the studio, except when people are exercising.
Obrecht believes that what happened in the other studio is an anomaly and that the vast majority of gyms open safely prove it.
“Fitness is not dangerous if the proper protocols are followed,” he said. “People shouldn’t be afraid to go back to their favorite fitness studio as long as they follow the proper protocols.”
Sur Twitter: @brodie_thomas