To say this past year and a half has been a challenge would be an understatement for non-essential businesses in Ontario. This Pandemic has forced many businesses to struggle and even go under. One industry that was hit particularly hard was the fitness industry.
Like restaurants, both small and larger scale gyms and training facilities spent substantial amounts of money and time to implement a safe environment. We had scrambled to put in place rigorous cleaning procedures and social distancing measures. There was no scientific evidence to support the closures when large scale “essential” businesses remained open to 100’s if not 1000’s of people each day. Small non-essential businesses received minimal support from our government. The lack of support left us feeling defenseless, taking on piles of debt and spending money to move our services to the digital forum to try and keep our businesses afloat. We felt crippled and as fitness businesses in our community buckled one after the other, we wondered if we would have the strength to pull through this devastation. At a time when keeping people healthy should have been of utmost importance, everyone was left confused and more than disappointed that fitness and health was not deemed essential.
Fitness, health and well-being of the community was deeply impacted. Fitness was not seen as a priority despite the vital role it plays on mental and physical health. Frequent lockdowns and more people working from home meant that daily routines were dramatically impacted. This made it difficult for many of our clients to stay on track with their goals. From our personal experience, clients of ours struggled to stay active and keep fitness as a part of their normal routine. The “new normal” was training clients online. Working with clients online made it challenging to keep them engaged and motivated due to many distractions at home.
There was a myriad of factors that occurred before PTK was settled into the location it’s training in today. Once the pandemic hit at the end of March 2020 and shutdowns occurred, our gym was closed (24/7 Fitness Kingston). After months of taking on debt, we decided to sell in order to alleviate ongoing expenses with no income being generated. The gym was sold 5 months after the shutdowns began. This was the best decision, removing the financial burden to us and our other business partner of the gym. Unfortunately, the gym abruptly closed down in December with no warning to anyone from the new owner. Looking back now, that was a bittersweet moment having spent 6 years training out of that gym. As of December 18th, 2020, we had no location to continue training clients. We scrambled to find a new location with no luck, leaving us no option but to settle into our space at home which was previously a dance studio. We rushed to fix the space up temporarily and ordered equipment which was difficult with equipment shortages and shipping delays.
As we began to settle into our space, it was time to search for a permanent location for PTK. We saw a variety of locations, however we kept running into zoning issues and non-compete contracts. After looking at over 7 different locations, nothing worked out in the end for a lease to be signed. Looking back, not signing a lease was the best thing that could have happened. A short two weeks later the second lockdown occurred and non-essential businesses had to shut down again. The uncertainty of how many lockdowns we would need to endure made us think more clearly about our long-term plans.
During the multiple lockdown periods we were fortunate to have secured a commercial location which has yet to be built. We’re optimistic that after another year passes the pandemic and impact on fitness businesses will be less tumultuous. Until that next chapter begins, we are grateful to have a space to train clients that’s under our control. Thank you to our family, friends, and clients for the encouragement over the past year and a half. We could not have gotten through this without your support!