Mixed reports from fitness centres in Penticton with vaccine passports playing into memberships

Gyms dealing with passports

Casey Richardson

Some fitness centres in Penticton are grappling with a loss in memberships and attendance stemming from BC’s vaccine passport program, while others have seen an uptick thanks to comfortability.

City Centre Fitness expected to see around a 10 per cent drop when the program went into effect in September, but instead lost close to 20 per cent of their business.

“It’s been a fairly slow October,” owner Kirby Layng explained. “Every other day I get a surprise of who isn't vaccinated and it just blows my mind.”

The vaccine passport program was implemented on Sept. 13 for proof of at least one dose for multiple businesses, including gyms, exercise and dance facilities or studios. On October 24, you must be fully vaccinated for entry.

CrossFit Penticton Co-owner Ross Mackenzie has seen more people join in after the program was implemented, with new and returning members.

“I think it's because they feel more comfortable but also just because there's more clarity as far as what we're allowed to do and what we're not allowed to do at this point,” he said.

“There were two or three people that ended up not renewing their memberships as of mid-September... and one person who was fully vaccinated, but still just wasn't comfortable with the passport system.”

Both owners have felt the financial impact through the pandemic on their business, but see this as a sign of moving forwards.

“This whole last 18-19 months have been an interesting ride, but hopefully we’re on the upswing now,” Layng said.

“We've had a lot of support from our members, even the ones that didn't necessarily agree with the government stance on things, they still were supportive of us and our responsibility as business owners to try and keep everybody as safe as possible,” Mackenzie added.

Gym goers have to show their vaccination proof to be allowed entry and wear their mask while not at their workout stations.

As of Tuesday’s numbers from the BCCDC, 87 per cent of eligible Pentictonites have had their first dose, with 81 per cent at two doses.

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