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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