PONTIAC May 27 2020
Gyms in Pontiac have been closed since March 11 as part of the government’s directives to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and it is still uncertain when they will be able to reopen.
Julia Clarke has been teaching fitness professionally for 21 years and is the owner of Julia Clarke’s Body by Design, a fitness studio in Shawville, who has had to refund all of their members for their cancelled “spring session”.
“It was a very busy session, actually, this spring session,” said Clarke. “Quite a few of my classes were full.”
Clarke was finishing up her promotional process when she found out she had to close. Despite the setback, she does not argue with the decision.
“We’ve got to stay safe and stay well and that was just the sensible thing to do,” said Clarke.
She also said her members are understanding of the current situation, knowing everyone is in the same boat regardless of the business they’re in. Nonetheless, the closure has affected the clients, as well.
“The clients are missing the classes and missing the social interaction,” said Clarke. “This studio is very much a social hub in the community.”
Owner of GYM Place Victoria, Debbie Smith, said her clients are staying vocal during this time.
“I do receive frequent inquiries from my members,” said Smith. “They are anxious to return to a healthy routine that they had acquired.”
Clarke’s courses normally consist of Pilates, Zumba fitness, Pound Rockout Workout and Barre fitness. However, for now, Clarke said the community must find other means of staying active.
“We just have to wait and do things on an individual basis,” she said. “Whatever that may be: gardening, walking, cycling.”
Clarke has redecorated her home, painted, done spring cleaning and gardening and is also cycling and walking.
In her home, she is doing what she usually does in the studio: Pilates and some Barre along with various other workouts.
“I would clear the furniture back, and do it in my living room and I would do my Pilates, our Pound or whatever I feel like doing that day,” said Clarke.
She said she has seen how larger facilities in other countries, such as the UK, have decided to reopen but with smaller capacities as before and spaces marked out on the floor to have physical distancing. Shower and washroom facilities are off limits in those facilities as well.
“If the large facilities are going to reduce their numbers drastically, how is it going to work for people in the businesses here, not just in the fitness industry?” Said Clarke.
Regardless of the signs of life shown by these gyms, Clarke said she thinks it will be a while until the people can go back to normal.
“I don’t think anybody really knows what the new normal will be like,” said Clarke. “I think we just gotta go with that flow and wait and see. We’ve never come across this situation before.”
Clarke, nonetheless, is optimistic about the future.
“My husband, Simon and I, are sorry to not be able to provide the service that the people have enjoyed and we’ve enjoyed doing for so many years, but we just want people to stay safe and we look forward to brighter days,” she said.
Smith had a similar message.
“I look forward to the day that it will be legal for me to unlock the door and once again greet my members,” she said. “I am missing my members, many of whom I consider to be my awesome friends.”
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