City of Toronto Gym Opening: L’Amoreaux Community Center

It has been 5 months since I was able to work out at my community center gym. Today 2020 Aug 17 the Toronto public gyms reopened, but with significant changes. Overall I felt that the City of Toronto did a really good job in infection control and cleanliness, considering pandemic circumstances.

Though I have been strength training at home, I don’t have the weights required to get a good pump and build strength, so it has only been maintenance. Working out at home, which will continue (I will explain) is a bit boring and at times very difficult for motivation. Still, when you have no other options a home workout must do.

In order to work out at the community fitness center you need to preregister online. I found this to be tedious and not easily done. Workouts are in 1 hour slots, and limited to a mere 8 people per slot. Each day for each 1 hour time slot is a different course code. You must register for each course code, as there is no way to repeat book, for example, that you’ll be there every day at 11:30. Hours are restricted to M-F, 9:30am to 5pm, whereas prepandemic hourse were 6am-9pm, every day but weekends, but open every day of the week. Today only 5 people showed up. There is more than ample space to add more people. If more people are doing cardio then the rest of the weights area is empty.

This pre-registration on the internet discriminates against older people. My gym is heavily biased towards those 70 and up, who often are not able to register themselves. Further, many are Chinese who do not speak even fundamental English. Registration in only English is a huge barrier to entry, and essentially bars them from participating. This needs to be corrected, as there is a significant older population that is not being served. Physical and mental health are just as important for the elderly.

I was met at the door of the community center by someone who gave be a survey of dubious ailments, international travel and contact with CoVid-19 infected. There was no temperature check, which is useless anyway. The survey was pretty complete. There is no longer a drop-in policy, so you must pre-register online.

At the door of the gym I felt a strong breeze flowing through the hallway, much stronger than before the pandemic. It is obvious that the circulation system had been cranked up, and this is a good thing. Curiously though the breeze was strong in the hallway, in the workout area I did not feel it. The aircon was on and some windows were open, offering good circulation. I don’t know what will happen in the winter, when the windows need to be shut. The gym was noticeably cleaner than usual.

The change room was open, but most of the lockers were zip tied shut, leaving just a few open. This is fine, as there is only a max of 8 people in the fitness center, half or more could be women, and there are no other classes currently being offered.

Upon entering the fitness center, the gym attendant gave us a 2 min talk about the setup, cleaning the equipment before and after your use, how to walk through the space, etc. She was reasonably thorough. There are 4 stations that have disinfectant in a spray bottle, disposable paper towels and garbage bins, ample for our use. I had brought a squirt bottle with a bleach solution and a towel, but did not use the towel, and will not bring my bleach solution next time.

The strength training machines and equipment were clean and recently wiped down. All weights equipment was spaced out pretty well. Missing were all the mats, BOSU, medicine and other balls, skipping ropes, weight belts, and stretch bands, said to be too dangerous to use. She said you can bring your own mat if you wish. As much of my abs workout is done on mats, I’ll probably just continue my abs workout at home, where I have my own BOSU, ab board and ab roller.

The free weights were the same as before. The ab crunch machine, broken for 3 months pre-pandemic and then 5 months during the pandemic, remains broken. There is still no machine to do ab work. Some of the newer exercise bicycles were off limits, which is sad because they are recently installed and wheelchair accessible.

Most people wore a mask, but working out with a mask was more difficult to breathe than before. Eventually most people stopped using a mask, but did not take them off, pulling them down to their chins. I used my mask for my whole workout, but I did find breathing somewhat impaired.

Overall a good experience, but very different from pre-pandemic. I felt safe, actually safer than going grocery shopping. It is unfortunate that the mats are gone, but then again, keeping them clean would have been problematic. They will always lay on the ground, collecting virus. Overall, hats off to the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation staff for infection control and cleanliness. I hope this can be kept up.

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