PHOTO BY SARA SHEIKH / THE SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
The Laurier Brantford YMCA reopened its doors for all members on Sept. 8th, 2020, after a few months of shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Six weeks later, the Laurier Brantford YMCA has continued to reintroduce more elements of fitness and recreation for all members based on the guidelines of their health unit.
Originally, when the YMCA opened, the use of change rooms and gyms were not permitted for any members. The only options the YMCA offered were lane swims, fitness classes, and the fitness center. Change rooms were opened two weeks later, and two weeks after that, recreational sports were reintroduced.
“It has been a learning experience for all of us because nothing is the same, everything changes on the fly and we have to be very adaptable,” said Shannon Davis, general manager of the Laurier Brantford YMCA, “overall I feel very comfortable in our process and our policies.”
Davis oversees the day-to-day operations and makes sure each department is running smoothly with no issues. She assures the policies and protocols put in place reflect the effort that the staff has spent on making the YMCA a safe and secure environment.
“The community has been great, everyone has been super respectful and following all of our policies and protocols, [and they have] given us lots of positive feedback,” said Davis.
“The main challenge is dealing with the various levels of how comfortable people are. Some people wanted all the services right away, and some aren’t coming back just yet,” said Judy Cook, membership sales and administration.
Currently, not every available option of fitness and recreation is being offered, but Davis is already looking ahead to see when they will be able to offer the full YMCA experience once again.
“A big next step would be working on the slow reintroduction of some of our programs and making sure we don’t lose any of the great stuff that we’ve done over the last six weeks, while we start to bring on some new stuff,” she stated.
Along with the policies and protocols, the layout of the facility and equipment has also undergone some changes. The single gym is being used for fitness classes, with members being given a space that allows for efficient movement while being safely distanced from other members.
Equipment in the fitness center has been shifted to keep members distanced, and basketball courts are limited to one person per net. Swims and workouts must now be booked online as well.
“Come on in and take a look. Even if you book a workout time and come in to just check it out, once you see the protocols that have taken place, you’ll see how important it is for us and for people to feel safe and secure,” said Davis.
Davis and Cook both stress the importance of researching the new policies of the YMCA, and coming to the gym to get the full appreciation of how hard the staff has been working for a safe reintroduction.
“Contact us and find out what our safety measures are and how your experience will be so you have as much information as possible to make the decision of attending,” said Cook.
“We are working really hard to make sure everyone feels safe coming to the gym and we know everything else is in the air right now,” said Davis. “If we can be that one constant, then we’re winning.”