GoodLife Fitness defends email asking for re-opening support

A chain of gyms in Ontario is facing a flood of feedback after asking its members to “stand up for fitness” by contacting their MPPs about the current strict limitations to indoor fitness as a result of COVID-19.

GoodLife Fitness sent an email to about 200,000 of its employees and members in the province, encouraging them to contact their local MPPs to push to reopen gyms. 

“Between mandated shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and ongoing questions about the safety of fitness facilities, our industry is facing the most difficult time in its history,” the email reads.

The email, which was sent on Monday, included links to a downloadable template for the letter, as well as a website that helps identify your local MPP.

Some people took to social media to criticize — and defend — the email campaign.

Currently gyms located in hotspots across Ontario, like Toronto and Peel, are not allowed to operate under Stage 2 restrictions. As of October 10, fitness centres like indoor gyms and yoga studios were ordered to close for 28 days. 

Jason Sheridan, senior vice-president of operations with GoodLife Fitness, says the idea of the email blast originally came as an initiative from the Fitness Industry Council of Canada. He says that the email was sent out after hearing from staff and members who wanted to know what they could do to make a difference.

“They wanted to know how to advocate on the behalf of the work they do, or the need that people have to have that space to exercise,” he tells Yahoo Canada. “When the Fitness Industry Council of Canada suggested it, we thought this was a great place to go. We want to provide this service of physical and mental health for people who want to get back to the gym.”

When GoodLife Fitness reopened locations in July, lineups of patrons eager to get back in the gym could be seen stretching down the street. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Two-thirds of GoodLife club members had returned to the gym prior to the

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GoodLife Fitness encourages members to write Ontario MPPs in email blast

a large room: File photo - an empty gym.

© Getty Images
File photo – an empty gym.

In an email that was sent wide to its members, GoodLife Fitness is asking gym-goers to email their local Ontario MPPs as the industry is “currently facing serious challenges as a result of the global pandemic.”

“Between mandated shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and ongoing questions about the safety of fitness facilities, our industry is facing the most difficult time in its history,” GoodLife Fitness, one of Canada’s largest gym chains, said in their email with the subject line “Stand Up for Fitness! | Write a Letter to Your M.P.P.”

The Ontario government mandated gyms close for a second time in COVID-19 hotspot regions such as Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa and, later, York Region as part of modified Stage 2 restrictions.

The closures are expected to last at least 28 days. The government said it will re-assess based on coronavirus numbers if it will lift the restrictions and allow gyms, among other establishments forced to shut down such as indoor dining, casinos, cinemas and performing arts centres to reopen.

Read more: Poor ventilation, panting can increase coronavirus risk at gyms: experts

“As an important contributor to the fitness industry in Ontario, you can help by sending a letter to your Member of Provincial Parliament (M.P.P.). This letter will serve to support the swift reopening of our closed Clubs and to prevent further closures in the province,” the fitness centre wrote.

A sample letter was then provided to members and addressed to Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries Minister Lisa MacLeod and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams.

“We are doing everything we can to work with government and public health experts to be a part of the solution, and to help advise on the decisions they are making for our industry. In order to be as effective as possible in our outreach to government and public health, we need your help!” GoodLife continued in its email.

The gym company said the campaign is being driven by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada.

GoodLife Fitness is facing online backlash on its email.

One user took to Twitter to criticize the fitness company’s move use its members to lobby the government to get gyms either reopened or loosen capacity restrictions.

“Shame on GoodLife Fitness for emailing members to drum up support for reopening. Gyms aren’t safe even with all the hygiene theatre in place. COVID-19 numbers are going wild, it’s time to get used to working out at home,” one Twitter user wrote.

In response, GoodLife Fitness said: “our email is a response to the many members and associates who have inquired about voicing their concerns as our gyms have provided a safe environment for Ontario residents to use. We have taken many measures to help provide members a protected way to workout.”

“People breathing heavily indoors unmasked isn’t safe, no matter how many times things get wiped down,” the Twitter user answered back.


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GoodLife encourages members to ‘stand up for fitness’, write their MPPs

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Ford placed Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region into modified Stage 2 restrictions on Oct. 10, for a period that was described as “at least 28 days”. The move, which later included York Region, saw indoor dining, fitness centres and several other facilities temporarily shut down again.

GoodLife’s letter comes as over 200 fitness centres in Quebec are threatening to defy their province’s restrictions and re-open by Thursday unless Premier Francois Legault can offer conclusive proof that gyms are causing the spread of COVID-19.

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The letter is actually part of a broader outreach initiative led by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, according to GoodLife, and it’s expected similar businesses will be joining the campaign and sending the letter to their clients.

“We are keen to advance the discussions with the Ontario government and Public Health and to help co-create any enhanced guidelines for gyms across Ontario,” said Jason Sheridan, GoodLife’s Senior Vice President of Operations, in a statement to the Sun. “We are very open to navigating this situation together and working to develop solutions that would allow us to continue to invest in the health and wellness of Ontarians.”

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