Local gym grapples with requiring masks on patrons

Gym grapples with masks

Sarita Patel

While B.C.'s indoor mask mandate allows those exercising in gyms to remove their masks while on a treadmill or piece of equipment, many gyms have gone a step further and made them mandatory at all times.

One such gym, Anytime Fitness in Lake Country, says the new rules have been a big adjustment.

“We’re constantly on right now because we are a 24-hour facility and the only way that we can, we feel, that we can properly manage that is to ask everyone to wear masks at all time,” said manager Lindsay Boechler. “If we were to go the other route we just couldn’t keep up.”

Gym president Brett Barker said his staff has been called "many names" because of the policy. Regardless, he says he's grateful to own and operate his business in the Okanagan, which has not had to deal with the same level of virus spread as the Lower Mainland

“We’ve been able to remain open and viable after our forced three-month closure.”

With a membership-based model, they lost roughly half of their business during the mandated closure and now with the mask policy, they’re seeing more cancellations and suspensions. 

“We’ve seen over the course of the last week here three-times our regular cancellations, of what was way higher than normal regular cancellations because of the times. Just purely that way we’re losing members,” he adds.

“We’re asking that if you don’t wear a mask in the facility and a staff member has asked you to put it on, if you disregard that request you’re going to be suspended from the club for 30-days,” adds Boechler. “That’s just to keep everyone safe and keep everybody on the same page of things and once again, just respect.”

Barker said the rollout of the mask mandate was confusing for him and his staff.

“There are just so many opinions on what those mandates are, I’m a commercial realtor, multi-business owner, serial entrepreneur - I have trouble reading between the lines and understanding these things.” 

“I’m not saying I am smarter than anybody, what I’m saying is personally I’m having trouble understanding them and definitely a lot of problems deciding who to alienate this time.”

Boechler said despite the negatives, about 90 percent of the members have been supportive.

“I have had people tell us that they respect what we’re trying to do and that out of all of this they're happy that they can at least still come to the gym.”

Barker says he’s told his team to remain positive and share that positivity with the members. 

“We will welcome you with open arms, just not the hug that we might normally do,” laughed Barker, under his mask.

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