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'If you operate a gym, you can be open:' Shandro

"There has been considerable confusion around what is allowed and what is not allowed," Shandro said. 
Tyler Shandro
Health Minister Tyler Shandro. GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA/Photo

Gyms across the province will be allowed to open for low-intensity activities this week, says the provincial health minister. 

On Tuesday, Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro clarified the rules around what fitness activities are allowed to take place under the second step of the provincial reopening plan. 

"There has been considerable confusion around what is allowed and what is not allowed," Shandro said. 

"If you operate a gym, you can be open. That is perfectly within the rules."

The province will be allowing low-intensity workouts – where breathing isn't heavy and heart rate isn't high – under the new guidelines, while high intensity workouts – where breathing is heavy and heart rate is high – will still be prohibited. The model was put forward after consulting with the fitness industry across the province and the province has modelled its plan after the one in British Columbia. 

Shandro said fitness centres will be asked to use their best judgment when approaching the new rules and the minister will be holding a town hall for the industry to learn more about the rules. 

The minister said the province will use enforcement for facilities who are not following the rules as a last resort and will be using education first to ensure fitness facilities understand the rules the province has put out. 

"The goal is compliance, it's not sanctions," Shandro said.

"We want people to use gym and other facilities safely."

Fitness facilities will not have a capacity cap on their buildings, but every visitor must stay three metres apart at all times to allow the best use of the space inside the facility, said Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. 

"I recognize the important role that physical activity and fitness play in our overall physical and mental health," Hinshaw said. 

On Monday, the province announced it would be moving cautiously into Step 2 of the reopening plan, which included opening libraries at 15 per cent capacity and allowing for low-intensity fitness to take place indoors. 

Unsupervised low-intensity individual and group exercises are now allowed by appointment only. Mandatory physical distance of three metres is required between participants, including coaches and trainers, at all times, and masks must be worn at all times by trainers and those participating in low-intensity activities.

All indoor fitness must be pre-registered – no drop-ins allowed.

Low-intensity exercises include weightlifting, low-intensity dance classes, yoga, barre and indoor climbing, as well as the low-intensity use of treadmills, ellipticals and related equipment.

High-intensity activities, including running, spin and high-intensity interval training, continue to be allowed only on a one-on-one with a trainer basis, or training with a household and one trainer.

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Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Newspapers based in St. Albert, Alta.
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