The business of fitness — why studios and gyms need your help

By | Business

By Emily Slaneff

Pretty early into quarantine, I saw this article on Medium about how restaurants in 2020 are screwed and said to myself “yep — sounds familiar”.

Because I own two boutique fitness studios in Calgary, Alberta, and like restaurants, my businesses were designed to prioritize community, connection, socialization, and closeness — which are now prohibited by our government.

And listen — I get it. I understand and respect our duty to flatten the curve and prevent overwhelm of our healthcare systems. I dutifully closed both of my studios on March 16th and pivoted to online classes and an online challenge that same day. Because I have made it my life’s mission to build communities around health and fitness, and I felt a responsibility to carry forth my vocation, despite the closure of my physical studios. And I was not alone — I couldn’t open my Instagram account without seeing a dozen free online workouts happening from instructors and studios around the world.

But here’s where the issue begins — would you do your job without getting paid, for months on end?

Ask almost any studio owner or fitness instructor why they do what they do and they will tell you that it is because they are supremely passionate about it. They feel motivated to inspire others, and they enjoy being surrounded by wellness, health, and positivity. They truly believe they are making a difference in the lives of their members. I share these sentiments 100% (I left a six-figure salary to start a business and not take a pay cheque for the first two years for the exact purpose of doing something I am passionate about). With that said, I also realize that I am running a business; not a charity. I have personal and family goals that require an income. I have team members who rely on me for their livelihood. And that requires a certain level of financial responsibility.

I recently read a book called “Building a badass boutique” by Emma Barry that stated that 40% of boutique fitness studios worldwide are not profitable. While this statistic struck me, it didn’t surprise me. Similar to the restaurant industry, the fitness industry is a highly-competitive and narrow-margin industry, where our customers have been groomed to believe they can (and should!) expect a five-star experience for less than $20 a pop (and are often ready to hit up the Intro Offer across the street if they don’t like what’s offered). This is the issue with consolidators like ClassPass — although for customers they are awesome (more variety at less price — yay!), they are forcing studios to compete on reduced price and increased service — which squeezes anything resembling a profit margin even further, if it exists at all.

Meanwhile, the costs of commercial space, property taxes, and labour costs are all increasing. So suddenly, that 40% statistic doesn’t seem so surprising.

And then a pandemic hits.

Businesses are forced to close, while rent payments continue to be auto-debited. The Commercial Rent program will be announced, but it is dependent on your landlord buying in, and you are still responsible for 25% of the rent, and relief takes months to arrive. If you can wait that long. If you are REALLY lucky your landlord may give you some relief, or if you are a franchise giant you may have the power to tell them that you aren’t paying. Most small businesses aren’t lucky. I continue to pay $21,000/month in rent across two leases.

You have to make the difficult choice to either lay off your entire team and leave your members homeless, or pivot to an online model and hope that someone sees value and will pay you for it (even though your iPhone Zoom class is competing against Hollywood studios in the online fitness world). I choose the latter, and manage to maintain about $6,000/month in revenue. Thanks to the Emergency Wage Subsidy program, I *almost* break even on my payroll costs, but I know I am investing in developing my team and community. It’s a long-term strategy. Although CEWS will eventually end — even the Canadian government doesn’t have bottomless pockets.

And then there are the regular costs — business loans, equipment leases, utilities, software subscriptions. Some payments are deferred for 3 months (but not forgiven). Because nobody planned for this, and it’s not the bank / leasing company / utilities company’s fault that you operate an “unsafe business”.

So you scrape by for 3 months, and are finally given the green light to re-open. And you are happy about the news, because you have to stop the bleeding. Something’s gotta give. Except that, with physical distancing guidelines, the studio that could once fit 30 members now fits 10. Let’s do the math.

Monthly revenue pre-COVID: $20/class x 30 clients x 5 classes per day = $90,000

Monthly revenue with social distancing: $20/class x 10 clients x 5 classes per day = $30,000

You’ve exhausted your savings, payment deferrals and government assistance are ending, and you already operate on a skeleton team working 60 hours per week. Costs are up (disinfecting the studio every hour takes a lot of product AND elbow grease), but revenue is less than a third of what it was, with no foreseeable end in sight.

You are left with two options:

  1. Say screw it and walk away from your lease and maybe even your business. Hopefully you have enough in the bank to cover your personal guarantees, or the legal costs of defaulting on your lease.
  2. Exhaust every possible option to reduce payroll costs, monetize online options, and increase revenue per head.

I, along with many of my fellow studio owners, chose the second option. My instructors took a pay reduction, and my members were informed that our price structure is changing, and we will still barely break even if we are lucky. I am in the business of helping people, of making fitness, wellness, and community accessible, and so this decision physically pained me. But at the end of the day, I cannot be in the business of helping people if I don’t have a business. My credit card cannot be paid in well wishes or sweat equity, as much as I wish this were true.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that far too many fitness studios will not see the end of this pandemic. The better capitalized studios, the larger chains and franchises backed by private equity or international ownership groups will be better off. But if you are a member of one of the thousands of locally-owned small fitness studios in Canada, and want your community to be open to you when you return, then I encourage you to help in one of these ways:

  1. Show up! (But be safe and follow the rules!) Fitness studios are very safe places to be and have taken cleaning protocols and physical distancing very seriously. In a grocery store you don’t know who has touched the head of lettuce or washroom door, but in fitness studios all surfaces are disinfected every time they are touched. The combination of verbal screening, scheduled arrival and departure times, strict member protocols, and increased immune system function should mean that you are able to feel very comfortable returning to your studio (assuming you are not, or do not live with a high-risk individual).
  2. Support with your dollars. On average, studios are now running with 30–40% capacity, so you should expect the same. If you were once attending 6 classes per week, expect to pay the same for 2 classes per week, and take advantage of the other days for outdoor workouts, online classes, running, biking, or rest days! (Your body will thank you for it)
  3. Stop bargain chasing. If you hop from Intro Offer to Free Class to heavily discounted membership or class pack, you are not supporting small businesses. You are milking small businesses. Pay full price.
  4. Attend class or the gym during off-peak times. The busiest times are 6am and 6pm. If you are working from home or have a flexible schedule, show up at 7am or 10am or 4pm, and bring your friends! This leaves space for someone with a less flexible schedule.
  5. Write to your MLA or regional representative and request additional support for small businesses, and reconsideration of physical distancing limitations.
  6. Be kind. If you don’t like a schedule change or a decision that was made, understand that there was likely a reason for it. Ask questions to understand, but remember that this is a difficult time for everyone — including the front desk staff and studio owners who are on the receiving end of your emails.
  7. Share! Feeling lit up or strong after a class or a hike? Share it on social, and tag us! We have always lived for your testimonials, #sweatyselfies and success stories (see: why we do what we do) and now our Instagram feeds need the positivity more than ever!

We are in this together, whether we like it or not, until physical distancing limitations are removed. Let’s make sure that we come out of this pandemic stronger than ever!

About Emily Slaneff

Emily Slaneff is the Owner + Chief Goal Officer of CrushCamp, a boutique HIIT, Yoga, and Strength studio in Calgary. Founded in 2017, CrushCamp is proud to be the first SKILLMILL studio in North America, and a home to goal crushers striving to improve their performance both in-studio, and in life. Follow CrushCamp on Instagram.

Ability and Beyond

By | Business

By Jeff Tiessen, Executive Director, ParaSport Ontario

Disability knows no prejudice. It does not discriminate by demographic… by race, religion, socio-economic status or gender. It does however, categorize by ability and appearance, not only within our general society but even within the disability community itself. Preconceived notions of inability and misguided attitudes are monumental barriers to inclusion of persons with a disability. Historically, these systemic predispositions constructed the battleground for equitable opportunities led by community advocates and disenfranchised individuals themselves.

The generalization of the “disability community” is a broad-brush delineation of Ontario’s largest and most indiscriminate minority, often painting a picture of limitations and debility. But in fact, our community of individuals with disabilities is a canvas of fine-strokes, a compilation of countless physical and intellectual distinctions and diversities, and abilities.

For 40 years, ParaSport® Ontario has promoted and provided inclusive and adapted sport opportunities for people with disabilities. Our core values encompass the importance of diversity and inclusion of all people. We recognize, and are learning more about, how systemic racism impacts persons with disabilities in complex ways. It is our mission to ensure that there are parasport opportunities available to participants and athletes with disabilities in all cultural communities and of all ability levels… and that a welcoming and quality first-introduction experience is provided to attain and sustain the participation of such a diverse population.

We also recognize the importance of equitable representation of women and persons of colour, particularly those with a disability, in our workplace, and on our teams of Ambassadors and Advisors and Board of Directors… and importantly too, in our depiction of those we serve in our media assets, editorial content and awareness materials. For us of course, this extends to the challenge of representing various disabilities in a variety of physical activities. With a lens on the implications of stereotypically defaulting to the super athlete – the Paralympian – commonly showcased in mainstream media, it is our responsibility as leaders in the disability community to emphasize that there is a sport or physical activity for everyBODY!

Standard semantics within the disability community call for “person first” language. That is, not “the disabled” but rather “someone with a disability” or “person with a disability.” It is a theoretical concept intended to emphasize the importance of identifying a person for who they are, and not by their physical circumstance. In practice, it’s more about attitude or mind-set and when that is intrinsically established, relationships are strengthened and inclusion and participation are optimized. And when it evolves from ritual to routine, it transcends all differences, and embraces diversity in any of its many forms. Good in theory and even better in practice.

ParaSport® Ontario supports all members of the disability community in finding their sport or activity of choice. There is a sport for everyBODY!” For more information on ParaSport Ontario, or for inclusion resources, visit or email

Be an Online Group Fitness STAR – Webinar Resources and Top Tips

By | Business

canfitpro PRO TRAINER panelists include:

  • Assata McKenzie (IG: @satalata_fitness & FB: Assata McKenzie)
  • Beth Oldfield (FB: Beth Oldfield – Fitness Protrainer & IG:  @betholdfield_protrainercanfit)
  • Dawna Mensah (IG:  @dawnamensah & FB: Dawna Mensah)
  • Sabrina Gabrielli (IG: @ kickstartsab)

Zoom Classes:

  • Click here for Sharing Music on Zoom Instructions. Or, Click here to see a video tutorial on how to set up music on Zoom (around minute 3:00)
  • Ensure that Mirror My Video is set to “on” – usually default. That way when you mirror image teach (left lead) your participants will be on their right
  • You will notice lag/delay from the timing of your movements to when your participants are moving. Practice to get used to this delay so you’re not thrown off
  • Add class participants as contacts in Zoom so you can easily email directly from Zoom in case of tech issues (saves time and hassle)
  • You can record classes and share the replay video with participants to access in Zoom. You can even set an expiry date for the recording
  • Use the Waiting Room feature to help you keep your classes and participants secure. You can opt to have a password as well

IGTV / Facebook Live Classes:

  • Opportunities to be discovered by more people! Build a following of participants outside of your geographic area
  • Most people are already familiar with social media, making it easier to overcome potential tech barriers of learning a new platform

Audio / Mic:


  • Connect laptop to large Smart TV with an HDMI cable or use a projector to expand Zoom Gallery View in order to see participants more clearly. If there are more than 25 participants, you’ll need to cycle between screen 1 and screen 2 to see them all
  • EpocCam HD Webcam App for better video quality



Liability & Participant Onboarding:

  • Ensure your insurance covers you for online classes/training. Gallagher is canfitpro’s preferred insurance provider
  • Blog: Shifting Your Services Online— How To Protect Your Business & Your Clients
  • PAR-Q+
  • All panelists take class registrations from participants contacting them directly via social media, text message, or email
  • Send a waiver and PAR-Q+ form. Review it once the participant completes/returns it. Knowing your participant health history allows you to provide custom modifications and better plan your workouts
  • Instruct participants to send an email money transfer for the cost of your classes. Most panelists offer monthly subscriptions ranging in price from $20-$50/month
  • You can also use PayPal direct payment links to accept payment
  • Zoom link is sent to registered participants the day of, or day before class


  • Most use Facebook and Instagram to advertise. Many new participants have come from word of mouth
  • Ask participants for testimonials, Facebook, and Google reviews
  • Be authentic in all your marketing and how you show up to teach your classes. Let your unique personality shine through

Community Building:

  • Build rapport with your participant by chatting on video before you begin the class
  • Consider a “coffee hour” or social time after class where the group can chat together
  • Private Facebook Group for your participants so you can engage outside of class and encourage participant friendships

On-Camera Presence & Other Tech Tips:

  • Keep internet stable! Turn-off all other Wi-Fi devices, plug laptop into your ethernet cable, or use a Wi-Fi extender. Shut down app notifications
  • Tripod to hold mic and camera
  • Practice with friends and family – ensure your body is in the frame, you can be heard, your music is high quality

Beyond the Crisis and Chaos: Quebec’s New Coalition

By | Business

By Nathalie Lacombe, M. Sc.

Having had the honor of representing Fitness Industry Council of Canada’s Quebec Coalition of fitness clubs and studios through the COVID-19 crisis, here are a few remarkable insights gathered as we worked towards the reopening date of June 22nd.

Coalition = Collaboration

Close to 200 locations joined our Coalition to create a common voice to reassure both the government and public that fitness facilities were prepared to reopen safely. This included club chains, franchise studios, independent gyms, Yoga studios, etc. of all sizes and price ranges.  All of them have unique challenges and concerns, but they came together and contributed with an understanding that:

  • There is much more that unites us vs separates us. Putting our egos and competitive mindsets aside allowed for less anxiety throughout the crisis because they knew they were not alone. Seeing it as a shared experience allowed for much greater empathy and created a support network that will last long beyond COVID-19.
  • The provincial government sees “gyms” as one single category. There was a group in Quebec that claimed, and lobbied, that smaller studios should be allowed to open before “big box gyms” but we knew that wouldn’t be the case. Our Coalition members stood by one another, regardless of their differences, confident that any division would slow down our government relations work and create mistrust in the public opinion. That confidence was founded when our Coalition was the only group informed of the announcement date ahead of time by the Sport Minister’s office about the reopening date; they shared that they were pleased to work with a group that worked collaboratively and professionally towards a safe reopening plan.

Leadership Matters Now More Than Ever

Like in all times of crisis, the cream rises to the top. Owners and operators who communicated regularly not only with their members, but also with their teams are already reaping the benefits of their leadership. Some key best practices that made a big difference include:

  • Any news or decision is better than none: I sadly heard from fitness pros who as of reopening date had still not heard a word from their gyms! People count on their leaders to be decision makers no matter how difficult the situation, and fitness pros are realizing that indecision is actually a decision within itself. In times of crisis no news is definitely not good news and it put all owners and operators under a leadership culture microscope.
  • Reflection allows for creativity: most of us went into a reactive mode when the pandemic first hit, then great leaders began to mindfully reflect on how they could continue to serve their teams and clients. This led to them having the ability to connect with their own and their team’s creativity and pivot towards new offers including virtual fitness, family nutritional coaching, outdoor workouts, online challenges, and so much more.

It is my absolute pleasure to congratulate the following Quebec Coalition gyms and studios on their leadership during closures and wish them all fantastic reopening success!

About Nathalie Lacombe, M. Sc.

Nathalie Lacombe, M. Sc.  Leadership coach and strategic partner.

Joyfully taking your leadership and business to the next level!

Email her at


YOUR NEXT STEP: Click here for FREE access to my 4-part video series What Fit Pros Want From Their Leaders and let me know how which of the tips most impacts your leadership!

The GoodLife Standard: Our Commitment to Health And Safety

By | Business

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things – it has changed the way we work, how we socialize, who we can see, and where we can go.

From restaurants to retailers, hospitals to schools, and parks to gyms, everyone has had to find new ways to take care of their employees, their customers and the community.

These past few months have been the most challenging our Clubs, our Associates and our industry have ever faced. Change is hard, as is uncertainty, and since we closed our Clubs in March, there has been plenty of both.

Reopening GoodLife Clubs across the country is a complex undertaking and we are making every effort to make sure it is done with the utmost care. We have embarked on an unprecedented effort to ensure our Clubs are as safe as possible for all of our Members and Associates, and we are proud to share a reopening plan that is caring, informed and consistent.

Our plan is focused on three main areas: ensuring physical distancing, reducing capacity levels in our Clubs, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization practices. We have brought all three of these important considerations together to create The GoodLife Standard, a comprehensive playbook that continues to guide our reopening efforts.

This new standard has been months in the making, and has been developed with guidance from public health authorities and all levels of government, as well as through consultation with experts in healthcare, infection prevention, and cleaning and sanitization.

Our principles and procedures will be updated on a regular basis as we monitor public health guidelines and make any adjustments required to strike a balance between creating the safest possible environment and providing an exceptional experience for everyone in our Clubs.

Below, you’ll find a brief outline of our new Standard. You can read a complete version of The GoodLife Standard, which will be updated regularly, on our website.

Cleaning and Safety Practices

As we reopen our Clubs across the country, we are introducing a number of new cleaning practices and protocols. Updates to our safety cleaning practices include:

  • All GoodLife Clubs will undergo an intensive, deep clean, prior to reopening.
  • Our Clubs will close for 30 minutes after every hour of Member activity to reset and clean.
  • Our Associates will adopt a “constantly cleaning” mind-set, ensuring special attention is always given to high-touch surfaces.
  • All Associates will be required to wear masks, with the exception of group fitness instructors who are actively teaching a class.
  • We have procured a one-step hospital grade disinfectant and contact sanitizer that will be used for frequent touch-point cleaning throughout our clubs.
  • Additional hand sanitizer has been made available, including the installation of hand sanitizer stations at strategic locations throughout the club.
  • We have invested in 300 Victory Electrostatic Sprayers so that each club has its own dedicated device. When combined with our increased touch point disinfection and our industry leading cleaning program, this will ensure all our clubs receive a comprehensive thorough cleaning every day.

Booking & Capacity

With online booking, we are finding a balance between providing the safest Club environment possible and an exceptional experience for our Members.

Booking workouts allows each Club to maintain a pre-set capacity, helping us facilitate physical distancing and reduce the potential spread of communicable illnesses. This new system will also allow our Members to guarantee their workout time.

Using the GoodLife App or the Member portal on our website, Members can book into pre-scheduled one-hour time-slots in the General Workout Area, Group Fitness Studio or Cycling Studio up to seven days in advance. To ensure everyone has an opportunity to work out, we’ve limited bookings to one per day, but Members can access the Club through our walk-in system as many times as they’d like throughout the rest of the day, if space is available.

To create our booking system, we closely reviewed past check-in volumes, Club square footage and provincial government regulations. As we reopen, we’ll continue to monitor the system and Member feedback to update our procedures where needed.

Classes and Training

Personal Training and Group Fitness will continue to be available in Club, and they have been modified to meet our new standards.

In addition to offering a new Remote Personal Training option, we are introducing a number of guidelines to help enhance the safety of our in Club Personal Training sessions. All Personal Trainers will be required to wear a mask when training with clients. To ensure proper physical distancing measures, no physical contact will be permitted unless needed to ensure safety and prevent injury.

Members will continue to have access to an amazing selection of live and virtual Group Fitness classes. Studios and classes have been modified to ensure physical distancing is possible and to keep Members in a smaller general area during the course of the class. To reduce potential touch points, Group Fitness classes will be set-up for Members when they arrive, and equipment will be cleaned and put away by Associates following each class.

Alternative Options

We want to do what we can to support our Members and make them feel safe and prepared while working out during these unique times.

In addition to the robust standards we are implementing, we are also providing diverse options to accommodate our Members, like Remote Personal Training, digital workouts and content on our app and website. If someone is not ready to return to their Club right now, we are offering a free temporary Membership freeze.

COVID-19 has presented a new challenge, but we are up to the task. Together, we can all come out of this stronger if we work in unity to keep everyone healthy and safe. By taking care of those around us, we are also taking care of our community, and ultimately our country.

This pandemic has changed many things, but it has not changed our level of care and passion towards helping everyone in Canada live a healthy good life.

Photo credit: Trainer Academy

Creating an Online Personality: Build Your Brand Through Thought Leadership

By | Business

By Trish Tonaj

As personal trainers, we begin our business with the intention of helping others reach their health and wellness goals.

We educate ourselves on the fundamentals of both nutrition and fitness that contribute to a well-developed plan for our clients.  We work and connect with each individual to ensure that they navigate the change and transformation for a healthier life and lifestyle.

Competition is fierce, not only within the industry, but with competing wants and desires that bombard us with messaging on “how to” create a better life.  Most of us have social media accounts sharing content to build a following that supports not only our existing clientele but introduce us to new and emerging markets.  The most common platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest – all to assist with supporting a visual brand strategy.

How do you build your online presence as a fitness professional?

Video is an effective marketing tool that allows us to create a connection of success.  We’ve all seen the before and after pictures that chronicle an individual’s success track and encourages our effectiveness as a change maker. It is a great tool for personalizing our message and sharing information.

Another way to continue to develop a unique brand image is through thought leadership – choosing a passion topic that gives us an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas, highlighting our unique position in the business. It’s not all about BMI (Body Mass Index) and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  Connecting with our passion separates us from the competition, especially when we are looking for unique content to share and support our brand strategy.

Our passion will set us apart from the competition and create a competitive edge when posting on social media.

The most obvious choices are strength conditioning and weight loss, but what about all of the other ways we may begin to develop a market niche?  There’s sports enthusiast – running, tennis, hockey, soccer or golf to name a few, menopause specialist, mobility expert. There are so many other ways to build a following while sharing a little about our personality and our passion to explain why we’ve made a commitment to the industry.
Here are a few suggestions on the ways to increase your visibility once you’ve chosen your passion topic:

  • Blog Writer
  • Podcast Guest or Host
  • Newsletter Contributor
  • Public Speaker

These additional opportunities will begin to establish your credibility as a thought leader and contribute to your ongoing success.

In today’s gig economy, we need to be innovative and create opportunities that will establish our own credibility in a place and time where our clients are not only well informed but looking to make connections with like-minded professionals.

Take a minute or two and find your passion topic…it will build your brand and establish your credibility as a thought leader within the industry.

It’s a great way to connect with and build your unique community.

Trish Tonaj is a Certifed Personal Trainer, Master Coach, Author, Mentor, and Speaker offering keynotes and workshops on how to amplify your success. She is the founder and guest blog host for, a portal in support of mentorship and the entrepreneurial spirit.  We invite You to share your story!

canfitpro Healthy Club and Studio: A Smart Checklist for Success

By | Business

Our Mission is to provide SMART guidance to Fitness Clubs and Studios reopening to members.

Note: The following are recommendations to be used as guidance, and in no means are intended to be enforced by canfitpro on any of the clubs/studios across Canada.

S - Safe and sanitized
M - Member-centric
A - Associate-supported
R - Return to service in a
T - Timely and trusted manner



▢ Attend regular ongoing training sessions on how to properly disinfect the club/studio and equipment, manage Members on how to maintain proper physical distancing, how to spot unusual Member or Staff symptoms relating to illness, how and when to wear PPE, and follow the club/studio’s rules.

▢ Assigned Staff member to walk the entire facility every hour with Daily Cleaning Schedule to ensure cleaning requirements are met Fill-out and sign form* regarding current health status, upon arrival to the club/studio for their shift.

▢ Mandate the use of face masks for all Staff.


▢ Ensure temperature checks and hand sanitizer use prior to/ upon entering the club/studio via touchless thermometers. Individuals with a body temperature greater than 100.4 °F (38 °C) will be not be permitted entry into the club/studio.

▢ Scanless check-in using club/studio App to eliminate the need to scan Member barcodes at check- in.

▢ Mandate capacity protocols for when capacity in the club/studio has been reached; bookings to be closed for that timeslot. Decide if and how ‘Walk-In’ will be permitted and/or managed.

▢ Place post signs at all business entrances to notify Members that they must not enter if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Signs should be posted throughout the club/studio to make Members aware of the two metre (6 ft.) physical distancing requirements, enhanced sanitation procedures (including reminders for Members to wipe equipment with disinfectant after each use), and any other instructions and limitations, as applicable.



▢ Fill-out and sign form* regarding current health status immediately upon arrival.

▢ Agree to all required procedures and protocols before and during their visit, making sure they follow the guidelines effectively.

▢ Use hand sanitizer when entering the club/studio and frequently throughout their visit, and use of face mask at all times (as outlined by the club/studio).

▢ Use disinfectant wipes on equipment before and after use in addition to club/studio’s cleaning protocols.



▢ Use of appropriate disinfectants confirmed to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 by Health Canada.

▢ Close club/studio for 30 minutes after every 60-90 minutes of Member activity to reset and clean.

▢ Disinfect doorknobs, handles, rails, light switches, sanitizing stations, lockers, bathrooms, sinks, toilets, benches, locker keys, the front desk, keyboards, computers, phones, and Instructor equipment (microphone/stereo).


▢ All Staff to be trained on how to properly disinfect the club/studio and equipment, as well as manage Members on how to maintain proper physical distance, wear PPE, disinfect before and after any use of equipment, and follow the club/studio rules.

▢ Provide additional training to spot unusual Member or Staff symptoms relating to illness according to Health Canada guidelines, and to report it immediately to the Supervisor/General Manager or Franchisee.

▢ Create Daily Cleaning Schedule (for Staff & Members), and assign Staff member to walk the entire facility every hour to ensure cleaning requirements are met.

▢ Hire additional cleaning staff and have sufficient cleaning products available.


▢ Install protective barriers (e.g. Plexiglass) at the front desk and limit the number of Staff members permitted behind it at a time.

▢ Adjust operating hours to allow for thorough cleaning and disinfecting.

▢ Install directional arrows and signage throughout the club/studio, and entrance to ensure Members and Staff can maintain physical distancing of two metres (6 ft.).

▢ Reduce, remove, or relocate equipment where necessary to allow for physical distancing guidelines to be adhered to. Option to separate equipment with a protective barrier (eg. Plexiglass).

▢ Provide hand sanitizer stations or handwashing stations for Members and Staff throughout the club/studio and entrance, and encourage their use. Replenish continually to promote their importance/value in eliminating the spread.


▢ Designate available lockers to maintain physical distancing. Restrooms and sinks will also be designated to allow for physical distancing. Schedule a rotation for lockers so that they are not used back to back by Members; disinfect in-between uses.

▢ Encourage Members to arrive at the club/studio in workout clothes, and to avoid using locker rooms on site altogether. However, when locker rooms are used, a disinfectant spray or wipes should be available for Members.


▢ Eliminate touching or trying on of items before purchasing.

▢ Schedule cleaning and disinfecting of all shared surfaces every 30 minutes.

▢ Gloves and masks are required for all Staff members.

▢ Install a protective barrier (eg. Plexiglass) at each check-out station.

▢ Indicate with floor markers where Members can stand in line for purchase and pickup.


▢ Ensure Members and Personal Trainers always remain two metres (6 ft.) apart.

▢ Designate spaces exclusive for Personal Trainers where they can train their clients.

▢ Minimize touching surfaces or equipment during training sessions. E.g. spotting, picking up equipment for client.

▢ Personal Trainers and Members will be asked to follow all club/studio policies and protocols.

▢ Allow 30 minutes between training sessions for disinfecting surfaces and all equipment, following the club/studio schedule.


▢ Map out studio floors and equipment to ensure Members always remain two metres (6 ft.) apart during a class.

▢ Install additional signs directing Members on how to disinfect equipment before and after use, and to keep a safe physical distance from others.

▢ Install a pre-reservation system for Group Fitness Members to sign in for their class beforehand. Only those who pre-registered can be admitted to class.

▢ Open Studios 10 minutes before class start times.

▢ Members will be asked to follow all club/studio policies and protocols.

▢ Studios to be closed and unavailable for 30 minutes between group fitness classes for disinfecting surfaces and all equipment.

* Members and Staff should be asked the following questions when they arrive: 1. Do you have any of the following symptoms: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat and painful swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue or loss of appetite. 2. Are you, or anyone you are living with, either sick, self-isolating, or quarantined? 3. Any Member who answers ‘yes’ to the questions above, should not be permitted to enter the facility. It is recommended that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 call their local health line for guidance.

Back to Base: Orangetheory® Safe Re-opening Strategy

By | Business

By Michele Nesbitt – National Fitness Director, Orangetheory® Fitness Canada

Like everyone in Canada and throughout the world, Orangetheory® Fitness was caught off guard by the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the globe in February and March.

On March 16, 2020, with the support of our Franchise Advisory Council of Canada and network of local franchise partners, we made the difficult but necessary decision to voluntarily close all 107 independently owned Orangetheory® Fitness studios across Canada.  Having been in the industry for over three decades, this was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

We know the importance of staying active to support our health – mentally and physically, which is why millions of Canadians have a strong and valued connection to a fitness routine that involves regularly visiting a boutique fitness studio or gym.  There was not a playbook for how we should react or what should happen next and when. What I do know is that our network acted swiftly and decisively to protect both our members and staff from this fast-moving virus. Their quick action helped us avoid a single case of confirmed spread in any of our studios across the country.

I am sure that everyone in the fitness industry would agree that when our economy was shut down, this left us with so much uncertainty not only about the future as a whole, but how consumers would approach our industry in this ‘new normal”.

Having been closed for well over 2 months now, we are encouraged with the progress Canadians have made to flatten the curve and we are hopeful to be able to begin reopening our locations this summer. As provinces continue to lift restrictions and establish health and safety guidelines to allow fitness facilities to re-open, there is an enormous amount of work and research that needs to be done to prioritize the safety of all our members, staff and owners. The social sentiment and the perception of when fitness facilities should re-open varies greatly from city to city and province to province. At Orangetheory®, we also recognize that within each location, members risk profiles will vary greatly and their desire to return to their fitness routine will rely heavily on the steps taken to ensure they can return to an environment where they feel safe.

The challenge now becomes “how can we create an environment where members are safe while still delivering the exceptional experience they’ve come to expect?”.

With over 400 Orangetheory® Fitness studios now re-opened worldwide in a number of countries, we have the benefit of closely monitoring a number of re-opening strategies to better understand the best practices being utilized so that we can keep members safe while also delivering our high-quality experience. The OTF Shanghai studio, which re-opened nearly 2 months ago, serves as a model for re-opening best practices for boutique fitness studios across the globe. While there were initially many restrictions and strict requirements when it first re-opened, based on the information we are seeing and receiving from our Global Head Quarters, operations have since returned to a new normal. While there were limitations on class sizes initially, the studios today are back operating at full capacity.

Our Canadian team has been working with teams across the globe, including the team at OTF Shanghai to prepare the details of our re-opening strategy and what that looks like for our network of franchise owners, staff and members in Canada.

Across the country, we have seen a varying level of impact as a result of COVID-19. What this means for us as a national brand is a phased approach of re-opening across the country that adheres to and is mindful of the strict guidelines of each provincial and/or municipal governments.

So where are we now?  The easiest way to phrase this is in the words of our creator Ellen Latham – “BACK TO BASE.” How does that feel – well it’s described as feeling “challenging but doable.” As provinces have begun their phased re-opening strategies, we have been actively communicating with our member base outlining our next steps. We have full alignment from our network of franchise owners that while we won’t always be the first fitness facilities to open in every market, our commitment is to be the safest.

While we have been closed, we have been working diligently to formulate new and enhanced safety and cleaning policies. When member’s come back, they can expect the following changes:

  • A new mobile app where you will be able to book your workouts and input performance data
  • Modified class formats that will allow for enhanced cleaning procedures and space to distance
  • Enhanced studio cleaning and disinfectant materials and procedures.
  • All staff will have access to personal protective gear
  • Studio traffic flow procedures that will allow for adequate social distancing
  • The elimination of high-touch point procedures such as equipment reservation cards and Challenge Tracker entry (a new touchless reservation system will be introduced)

COVID-19 may change the way we all think about group-based classes, but the basis of studio concepts like Orangetheory® Fitness is “Community”. “Community” for Orangetheory® members is fueled by their desire for the support of coach-led workouts and the competitiveness and camaraderie of simultaneously working towards their individual goals together. Will “Community” be diminished by having less people in a class or having the instructor wear personal protective equipment like a mask or face-shield? While we’re not entirely sure yet what the experience in-studio will look like, we don’t think the heart and soul of the Orangetheory® experience will be phased by these measures.

As the world has changed, Orangetheory® will change.  Within change we find opportunities.  It may feel “uncomfortable” at times, but we are onboard to find that ALL OUT once again!

About Michele Nesbitt

Michele motivates people to push beyond boundaries. With a fitness career spanning over three decades, she’s a community builder who is motivated by change and transformation – in the body, the mind, and the business. Driven to positively impact people, she’s the Fitness Director whose passion and perseverance brought Orangetheory® Fitness to Canada with the Master Franchisor in 2012. As a founding Franchisee, she choreographed and created every workout across the country for two years, implemented training programs, mentored coaches, developed franchisee resources, and created the consistent processes and procedures that aided in the company’s global expansion. Known as an approachable leader with integrity, resilience, and initiative, she holds high standards because she cares and because she knows her teams and her clients can exceed expectations.

Follow Michele on Linkedin.

Visit the Orangetheory® website, or follow them on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

How Fitness Companies Should Adapt, Pivot and Respond In A Changed World

By | Business

By Lindsay G. Merrithew

Merrithew™ Co-founder and CEO Lindsay G. Merrithew shares his insights on the opportunities and challenges ahead for fitness professionals and studio owners.

None of us were prepared for a pandemic.

While businesses plan for all sorts of contingencies, a pandemic wasn’t something we’d ever imagined, let alone prepared for.

Now several months into our respective lockdowns or just beginning to navigate our reopenings, we’ve seen just how much the fitness industry has been required to adapt and innovate as a result of COVID-19. While there’s no doubt there will be many adverse impacts on the fitness industry, we’ve also seen fitness professionals and studio owners emerge as leaders and champions during this time of crisis, offering people respite in movement, and the coaching and community they needed in isolation.

We are so proud of the Merrithew™ community for finding ways of serving and connecting with their clients online during this time, and for reaching out to new people who were seeking the stress relief of mindful movement.

As a Canadian company with more than 140 employees, 269 Instructor Trainers, 194 Training Centers and 22 distributors and resellers worldwide, we were also confronted with significant challenges over the last few months.

At our manufacturing plant in Scarborough, Canada, we implemented social distancing measures, staggered work hours and lunch breaks, and extended sick leave. Our Retail Fulfilment, Education and Sales teams have been working around the clock trying to figure out ways of getting our products and services to our customers safely and quickly.

Most importantly, our goal through this has been to continue supporting our community in their quest to live healthy, mindful lives, which has become ever more critical of late.

Here’s how we did it and some key takeaways for other business owners:

  1. Build off your virtual momentum with convenient, flexible options for clients

The fitness industry has been increasingly moving towards a digital-first offering (look at Peloton®). That shift has only been expedited as a result of COVID-19. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, you should leverage and embrace this boom in online classes and virtual training as a way of complementing and expanding the reach of your in-person business and building up your brand, as long as your programming and teaching standards remain as high and as consistent virtually as they are in-person. If you can continue to cultivate a genuine sense of community among your clients, they will keep coming back to you. We’ve done that with our new streaming platform, Merrithew Connect™, where clients can access on-demand digital workouts and training from our team of international experts anytime, anywhere.

  1. Know your audience and keep them engaged

If you have some new ideas, why not experiment? We’ve seen instructors coming up with all sorts of creative ways of keeping their clients involved with mini online tutorials and info sessions, Instagram challenges, virtual coffee chats, and workouts of course. In April, Merrithew launched 28 Days of Mindfulness, a daily email campaign with tips, stories and resources to ‘fuel your body, calm your mind and energize your day.’ This was the first time we’d ever done a daily content campaign and our audience responded very positively. This project was highly relevant to our audience’s needs at the time and gave them valuable and tangible self-care resources. It just proves that it’s worth stepping outside your normal in these unprecedented circumstances.

  1. Bringing the studio experience home

As much as we all want things to return to normal as soon as possible, the reality is, that likely won’t happen for a long time, if at all. Many clients won’t feel comfortable returning to the studio until there’s a vaccine. That means we need to bring the studio to them, whether that’s through continuing to provide high quality virtual instruction or with products and equipment that align with their needs and exercise goals. As an instructor, you not only motivate and provide your clients with an education, you can also help them make smart purchasing decisions. Perhaps that’s by recommending props that they would benefit from at home, or by renting out your equipment until your studio reopens. At Merrithew, we are offering discounts and free bonuses with every Reformer purchase, including access to our streaming platform, Merrithew Connect, so customers can experience the benefits of high quality studio equipment coupled with expert professional instruction in the comfort of their own homes.

There will be many challenges to come for all of us, but I think the industry has shown tremendous resiliency, resourcefulness and leadership over the last few months and I trust that will continue.

About Lindsay G. Merrithew

Lindsay G. Merrithew is the driving force behind the growth of Merrithew and its premium education programs: STOTT PILATES®, ZEN•GA®, CORE Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training, Total Barre® and Halo® Training. He has been instrumental in designing, producing and marketing the company’s extensive equipment and video lines and is a member of Ontario’s prestigious Innovators Alliance for elite entrepreneurs.

About Merrithew™

Merrithew™ is the global leader in mind-body education and equipment. Founded in 1988 by Lindsay and Moira Merrithew, the company has trained 60,000 instructors and partners around the world, developed six innovative education programs, including STOTT PILATES®, and has produced an extensive line of professional and at-home equipment, accessories and digital media.

Top 3 Online Virtual Platforms to Train Your Clients for Non-Techs

By | Business

Everyone can agree that when gyms re-open, the fitness landscape will not be the same as it was before.

Virtual training is now the new normal, allowing you to train clients from anywhere in the world and at anytime.

The biggest questions fit pros are asking today is….”If I’m not comfortable with technology, how can I train my clients online?"

At canfitpro we are here to help!  Here are the top 3 online platforms to connect with your clients if you’re not tech-savvy, yet.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook is the platform most people may be familiar with for personal use, but Facebook’s Messenger app also has great video-calling capabilities.

You can call one person or a group of people on the app.

How to do a Facebook video call:

For more information, visit Facebook’s Help Centre.

Cost: The Facebook Messenger app is free to use.


IGTV and Instagram Live group workouts have been on the rise since COVID-19.

However, you can still train your clients online using Instagram’s private video chat feature. The group video call supports up to 6 people.

Currently, this feature is only available on the mobile app.

Find out how to do a video call on Instagram.

Cost: The Instagram app is free to use.


Pre-COVID, Zoom was known as the platform for business conferences and calls. Now, many Personal Trainers are turning to it to help get their clients get in shape.

You can either use Zoom on your desktop computer or downloading the app on your phone.

Send the person you want to train a meeting invitation, and log into the platform at the scheduled time to start the sweat session.

How to schedule a Zoom meeting:

Zoom has an extensive Help Center where you can find out more about its features.

Note: Remember to set up your sessions with a password to enhance security and protect yourself and your clients.

Cost: Zoom is free to use, but there is a 40-minute limit on meetings with 3 or more people. Find out more about their paid plans.

For more information on these and other platforms, including how to host virtual workouts, read our blog Hosting Virtual Workouts 101: Connect with Your Clients And Members.

[WEBINAR REPLAY] THINK Yourself® A TECH PRO – Save Time using Technology

In this webinar, Nathalie Plamondon-Thomas shows you the best tech for your reinvented online fitness business.

Learn the best online tools to:

  • Move your business onto virtual platforms
  • Become more efficient and organized
  • Retain clients and find new ones
  • Look and feel calm, sophisticated, and brilliantly productive!
  • Propel your business with technology! Fast track your success with apps and platforms that will save you time and ease frustration!

[WEBINAR REPLAY] Transform Social Media Fans Into Paying Clients

In this webinar, Nathalie Plamondon-Thomas shows you how to:

  • Transform your social media followers into paying clients
  • Move your business online
  • Stop trading your time for money
  • Bring in revenue even when you’re not with clients!
  • If you’re tired of your social media followers not converting to revenue, this webinar is for you!
  • Use the power of online platforms, and your fitness expertise, to leverage your time and efforts in a profitable way. No more trading hours for dollars!

No matter what online platform you use to train your clients, make sure to familiarize yourself with it extensively so that you can maximize your ability to create powerful connections and experiences both for your clients and for yourself.  This will lift your confidence and enhance your performance.

Don’t just prepare your workout plan and equipment before the training session, but make sure to test the technology and create the right environment.