Confusion reigns over B.C. health order, says fitness club owner

Dance and fitness studios across the Lower Mainland were only open for one day before being shut down again.



a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Tantra Fitness owner Tammy Morris inside the studio on East Broadway in Vancouver. She said she followed all the rules and re-opened Monday, only to have government post new rules on Monday night forcing her to close.


© Provided by Vancouver Sun
Tantra Fitness owner Tammy Morris inside the studio on East Broadway in Vancouver. She said she followed all the rules and re-opened Monday, only to have government post new rules on Monday night forcing her to close.

Tammy Morris, owner of four Tantra Fitness locations, said there has been a lack of communication from health authorities and she finds the public health orders are confusing, vague and contradictory.

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The provincial health officer ordered a suspension of group dance and fitness classes in the Lower Mainland on Nov. 7, pending development of guidelines and approval of new safety plans, but rescinded that order on Nov. 19. A revised order stated that only HIIT (high intensity interval training), Spin and hot yoga were required to close and extended that provincewide. Other indoor group fitness activities, including dance, martial arts and cheerleading could “stay open while updated guidance is being developed.”

Morris double-checked with Vancouver Coastal Health. “They gave me the green light.”

So she reopened on Monday with strict new policies in place, including temperature checks, half-capacity classes and a staggered schedule.

Morris said part of the problem is that studio owners receive no direct communication from the authorities.

“I wait all day for that 3 o’clock broadcast, and I hang off every word she says. On Monday, Bonnie Henry said nothing about studios needing to close again.”

However, late on Monday, the wording on the provincial website was quietly changed to say that dance, martial arts, yoga, Pilates, strength and conditioning must be suspended “while new guidance is being developed.”



a little boy that is standing on the floor:  Tantra Fitness owner Tammy Morris inside the studio on East Broadway in Vancouver, B.C., November 24, 2020.


© Arlen Redekop
Tantra Fitness owner Tammy Morris inside the studio on East Broadway in Vancouver, B.C., November 24, 2020.

In a statement to Postmedia, the Ministry of Health said: “While spin classes, hot yoga and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are suspended indefinitely, all other indoor group fitness activities are only on pause until public health develops new guidance to ensure safe operation. Once this guidance is completed, facilities offering indoor group fitness activities, other than spin, hot yoga or HIIT, will need to adhere to that guidance, update their safety plans, and post them publicly before these activities can resume. That guidance is being finalized right now and we expect it to be available this week.

Later, a government tweet said it would be available Nov. 30.

“Facilities will not need to seek permission from health authorities before opening, but there will be increased inspections to ensure all facilities are complying with the new guidelines.”

But Morris said the process has been confusing from the start. After the Nov. 7 order, she consulted WorkSafeBC and created 17-page safety plans for each of her four studios, submitting them on Nov. 10.

On the Nov. 11, she received an additional 14-page checklist and questionnaire, which she completed and submitted. On Nov. 12, she was instructed to

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Fitness CEO James Gullatte moved from prison to business owner

His name is James Gullatte, but you can call him Boss. His biceps, decorated with tattoos from a past life, bulge out of a cobalt T-shirt that shares his company tagline, Results Do Matter.

In 2004, Gullatte arrived in Columbus with about $100 in his pocket and a laser-sharp focus: to help as many people as possible get fit. Overcoming obstacles from poverty to homelessness and incarceration, today he’s a certified fitness trainer and owner of B.O.S.S. Fitness, a two-room gym just southeast of Downtown, where he has logged over 175,680 training hours with roughly 1,500 clients and has earned over $2 million.

Paint me a picture of you while growing up.

Gullatte: I grew up in Westwood. Growing up in Dayton, you either did two things: worked at GM or ran the streets. I started running the streets around 11 years old. I began to go take care of myself, stealing candy. I was taking it to school, selling two candy bars for a quarter, to make money, to take care of the things I couldn’t get at home.

James Gullatte owns B.O.S.S. Fitness on E. Livingston Avenue.

What do you think made you turn to crime at such a young age?

Gullatte: I remember the first time I got caught stealing. Everybody came over, so it triggered a signal in my mind that if you get in trouble, you get attention. I was a baseball star and I was traveling all over Ohio on all-star teams and made it to the Little League World Series, but no one ever came to the games. I translated getting in trouble with getting attention.

You spent time at a youth detention center in west Columbus. Why do you think you continued your path after you left there at 17?

Gullatte: When I got home, there were people now standing on the streets selling drugs. The community was going downhill. But everybody had money. I began to steal cars.

I had this small goal: I wanted to be able to purchase a kilo of cocaine, which at the time was $24,000, around 1987. It was all about survival. But then the bottom fell out. I became addicted to cocaine. That was part of the reason why my business fell apart, and I ended up with seven children by four different women. I lost everything and became homeless from 21 to 34. Sandwiched in between were 10 years in prison.

Can you point to a time, while incarcerated, when you decided to change your life?

Gullatte: Prison is where I learned how to love me. This picture is still in my head: It was 1995. I had just worked out, and I was feeling good about what I was doing, and it just hit me, it stopped me: I asked myself, “Do you love yourself?” I took a hard look at myself at age 25, while I was sitting inside this cage, and my journey began to change. From that point on, it was about how

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Federal judge rules against gym owner who sued CA governor

The front entrance at Fitness System’s health club in Sacramento, with a copy of the Bill of Rights taped to the door. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, that the owner had filed against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials because of COVID-19 shutdowns. 

The front entrance at Fitness System’s health club in Sacramento, with a copy of the Bill of Rights taped to the door. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, that the owner had filed against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials because of COVID-19 shutdowns. 

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A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Joaquin County and Lodi officials that had been filed by the owner of three Sacramento-area gyms after officials ordered the shutdown of fitness centers last spring because of COVID-19.

After a Zoom hearing in Sacramento federal court, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez agreed to requests by the defendants that the lawsuit be dismissed and found that the coronavirus pandemic was so dangerous that officials were within their authority when they first ordered the closures.

The orders were “a constitutional response to an unprecedented pandemic,” Mendez said.

Attorney John Killeen argued for the state that since Newsom’s original stay-at-home orders the state has loosened restrictions on fitness centers, including allowing some outdoor exercising and indoor workouts in San Joaquin County at 10% of capacity.

“A number of restrictions have been lifted,” Mendez said.

“I just don’t see any basis for allowing this lawsuit to go forward in the district court,” he added.

The suit was brought by Sean Covell, owner of Fitness System gyms in Land Park, West Sacramento and Lodi, and argued that the shutdown orders violated the Constitution and were costing his operations huge amounts of revenues and lost memberships.

The lawsuit was one of numerous complaints filed by fitness centers, churches and businesses against orders Newsom and health officials issued to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The lawsuits have largely been unsuccessful, although some are pending and yet another involving gyms in Dixon and Sacramento was filed in federal court in Sacramento on Monday.

Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.

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London spin studio owner worries new safety measures will sink group fitness

With new measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 for fitness studios, restaurants and personal care providers, one local fitness facility is questioning whether they can survive another financial hit sprung by the ongoing pandemic.

Courtney Grafton opened Lost Cycle, a rhythm-riding, indoor cycling studio in south London, just a little more than a year ago.

Since being allowed to reopen back in July, the studio has been able to offer classes at pre-pandemic capacity while keeping riders and staff two metres apart, but Grafton doesn’t think she’ll be able to keep afloat with the new cap of 10 people, including the instructor, per class. 

“Our classes are built off of an environment of a group fitness class and by limiting that so much, it makes us almost impossible to operate,” she said.

“No one needs to be a mathematician to figure out that the numbers they’re giving us with the amount that it costs me to operate a business do not add up. I cannot survive off of nine people in a class, while still paying [instructors] their regular rate.” 

In the last few months, the studio has been able to weather the storm thanks to constant support from dedicated cyclists in the city who have been keeping the studio’s 21 weekly classes fairly busy, despite an outbreak at Spinco, a cycling studio in Hamilton that has made headlines across the country for being linked to 81 COVID-19 cases. 

“I don’t get to decide how scared someone is,” Grafton said. “I really feel for Spinco … but it’s a full time job to make sure that everything is cleaned properly … You have to really be diligent and treat it very, very seriously every single day. You don’t get a break from it,” she said, adding that her biggest expenses are cleaning supplies, including a steam cleaner staff use on bikes in between each class. 

Keeping bikes two metres apart from one another, steam cleaning them in between rides, having staff wear microphones to reduce the need to shout in class as well as checking every rider’s temperature ahead of class are some of the guidelines the fitness studios has already been following. Now, they’ll have to bring capacity down to 10 and space bikes by three metres, along with the other measures already taken. (Submitted by Courtney Grafton)

On Wednesday, Dr. Chris Mackie, the region’s medical officer of health, cited the outbreak in the Hamilton cycling studio as an example of why he’s decided to implement the new measures, despite the absence any outbreaks linked to fitness facilities in the region. 

“That’s the sort of thing where we’re not going to sit around and wait for a huge outbreak in our community before taking some reasonable actions that will potentially eliminate the possibility of having that level of outbreak at all,” he said. 

“As much as we watch very closely what is happening in our community and learn from the cases and outbreaks we have here,

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