Reopening of gyms: a mixed reception from owners
A QR code imitation in a gym.
Morale is not good for the owners of training centers when Quebec announced their reopening on February 14. The latter have been hard hit by the pandemic and it is without enthusiasm that they will reopen their doors for the fourth time.
It is with “mistrust” that the co-owner of the LABB in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Evens Examé, welcomes the announcement made by the government.
This is the fourth reopening of his establishment. It is therefore with a certain weariness that Evens Examé will reopen its center, where it will be the only one to give the training courses, because its 12 employees had to be dismissed for economic reasons.
“Each time, it's as if I'm starting a business from scratch,” he said. Are we ready? Yes, but will it be enough for the government? Time will tell.”
He explains that he is even afraid to launch a promotional campaign to attract customers, because it would be, according to him, losing money in the event of a new closure imposed by the government.
“I'm happy to reopen, but I've gotten to a point where I'm suspicious of the next announcements that may be made,” he said. At any time the Prime Minister could decide to close.”
A lack of financial aid
The owner of the LABB deplores the fact that the government subsidies are insufficient and that they do not make it possible to go up the slope.
“Really, we don't have any help; it’s only for the landlord to pay his rent,” he says.
He explains that for establishments that were closed between December 19 and January 15, the next date to apply for financial assistance from the government is February 7.
“After two years of dip into the bottoms of drawers, at some point the pockets are empty,” he adds.
For establishments that opened shortly before the pandemic, the note is even saltier. This is the case of Nadi, the owner of elleFITNESS Montreal in the Plateau-Mont-Royal.
Its training center, which only welcomes women, opened its doors on January 20, 2020, a few weeks before the first closure imposed by Quebec.
I was more closed than open […] I'm not sure the company can recover.
Nadi, owner of the elleFITNESS Montreal training center
Financial assistance of the government were based on the losses incurred compared to the year 2019. Nadi therefore had little choice to part with all of its employees in an attempt to survive.
“In terms of subsidies, we were swept out of hand,” she explains. We never really had time to breathe.”
Despite a reopening date announced in advance allowing her to prepare, she admits that the morale is not there. After investing $200,000, she is now struggling to negotiate the price of rent and keep her establishment alive.
Beyond the financial threats, it is the change in customer habits which worries Nadi
A clientele that has changed its habits
For the owner of elleFITNESS Montreal, the two years of the pandemic had an impact considerable on customers. While she relied on clients coming to work in the offices, teleworking reduces her clientele to women in the neighborhood.
According to her, clients have changed their habits and turned to other practices sports such as the outdoors.
“It's very difficult for people to get back into good habits,” says Nadi.
Evens Examé fears a possible “second pandemic” due to the increase in obesity and hypertension due to the decrease in sports practice during the pandemic. According to him, many people have given up working out and lost their interest in it.
Both hope that the pandemic will lead society to consider sports activities as essential practices for life. mental health.