FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A local gym is encouraging its members to “speak up” and help push to make fitness facilities an essential service.

Prevail Athletics is one of several gyms in the B.C. taking action after being served closure orders after the province implemented further restrictions amid the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. The revised public health orders took effect December 22nd and include no indoor organized gatherings, and the closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, fitness centres and dance studios.

An employee of Prevail, Kristi Langevin, has provided Energeticity with letters she has sent to Premier John Horgan and Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry, detailing the need for gyms.

Prevail and Langevin believe fitness and gyms play an important role in everyone’s mental health during the pandemic.

“Our facilities are important to so many people, coming from all walks of life. They use our gym for all sorts of reasons — depression, anxiety, addiction, physical health and the list goes on. Physical exercise is good for your heart, mind, body and soul,” wrote Langevin to Horgan.

“The gym is a community of people who genuinely care and want to see you succeed. The gym has helped me personally with my depression, social anxiety, confidence, moods, self-worth, and it gets me excited to get out of bed in the morning. I look forward to seeing our members and watching them feel good about themselves and succeed in their goals.”

Langevin also claims that gyms are important to teenagers, and families.

“You have no idea how many people your decision has affected. We are all battling demons you know nothing about. The gyms are a tool that many people use to battle those demons. People have the right to choose to be healthy.”

Many B.C. gyms have asked the province to show proof of the virus being spread in their facilities.

In the first COVID-19 briefing of 2022, Dr. Henry said fitness facilities have been “doing everything right,” but they must remain closed to curb transmission.

“Gyms are doing everything right in many cases, but the reputable ones understand that they’re not going to put their staff and clients at risk when we’re seeing the amount of transmission that we’re seeing right now,” said Henry in the briefing.

She said there are multiple examples of the virus spreading through indoor fitness activities and that the restrictions were to protect employees and customers..

“When we have a lot of transmission in our community, we have repeatedly seen that gyms become amplifiers,” said Henry.

In the letter to Dr. Henry, Langevin points out the cleaning procedures the gym had in place and the hardship the order has created for the gym, and its staff and trainers.

“Our trainers are now out of work. Our staff is out of work. Our gym is no longer making income, and we still have rent and bills to pay,” wrote Langevin to Henry.

She also points out how there have been no outbreaks at their gym and how she is confused by malls staying open.

“You are ruining businesses, people’s mental and physical health, and it is unethical. Your orders do not make sense.”

After defying the recent orders by staying open, Prevail, and The Gym were forced to close by Northern Health on December 30th.

In a letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix on January 7th, MLA Davies said he has received several calls and emails from “frustrated gym members” in the Peace region.

“Gyms and fitness centers are critical for the physical and mental health of the constituents of the Peace Region, especially when going outside for a walk is not a safe option,” wrote Davies.

Davies claims that several studies have shown the benefits of gyms improving immunity levels, and sustaining mental health.

“As we begin our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that British Columbians are supported and encouraged by the BC government to independently seek and maintain a healthy body and mind.”

Prevail encourages its members to write to the City of Fort St. John, Northern Health, MLA Dan Davies and Dr. Henry to express their thoughts on gyms being an essential service.

Many B.C. gyms are voicing their displeasure with the province’s decision, including Iron Energy Gym in Kelowna, which was served a $2,300 fine and force to close again last week.

The restrictions remain in place until January 18th.