FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Prevail Athletics says the Province allowing gyms and fitness centres to open on January 20th is “a win for the fitness community.”

Prevail joined other fitness facilities in the province Tuesday morning by taking part in the social media movement known as “Operation Green Light,” which calls on gyms, fitness centres and dance studios to open, regardless of if provincial restrictions were lifted.

“Everybody’s pretty excited that we are allowed to reopen on Thursday. I think regardless of what the restrictions would have been, we would have continued on, and we would have kept opening because we know how important it is to have a facility for everybody in the north for their mental and physical health,” said Caitlyn Bellamy with Prevail Athletics.

Prevail says they’ll also be open on Wednesday.

Bellamy said the gym initially decided to open up Tuesday morning after hearing members’ responses after the gym posted on Instagram asking why gyms are essential.

“The answers that I got from our members specifically were so powerful and honest. It was really eye-opening for me. I knew how important that gym was to people, but once they started telling me why they come every day and what it really means to them, I was like, okay, like, we need to open up, this is ridiculous,” Bellamy said.

Below are some of the responses the gym received from community members:

Bellamy says she believes residents in Northern B.C. were forgotten about when the province made the restrictions regarding fitness facilities as the Peace region was experiencing a cold snap when the restrictions were announced.

“There’s nowhere else for anyone to go get exercise when the gyms are closed up here, it’s not the same as Vancouver, and I really wish that they would understand that,” Bellamy said.

“They say to take your workouts outside. Go for a walk. But I mean, there were three weeks here where you physically could not go outside for more than minutes or you would have frostbite,” Bellamy said.

She also said that not everyone is able to move their workouts to their homes either due to physical ailments or not being able to afford a home gym.

Bellamy added that the gym has complied with public health orders since the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions until receiving a closure order on December 29th.

“We complied up until this point. I’ve had Northern Health in here, and they’ve looked over my COVID safety plan. They see that we put up extra signage. Do they see that we put up extra cleaning stations? We’re asking for vaccine passports. We’ve done every single thing that they’ve asked. And then we were shut down with no answer,” Bellamy said.

She added that the gym sees a decrease in membership with each restriction the province adds.

“The last two years have been nothing but obstacles that we’ve had to overcome, and with every obstacle that the government throws at us, people get frustrated, and they don’t want to come back to the gym,” Bellamy said.

Bellamy says Prevail lost nearly 20 per cent of its membership when the province implemented vaccine passports.

“It’s so hard because you comply, you comply, you comply, and it’s just never enough,” she said.

Bellamy says Prevail Athletics is and always has been committed to providing a safe space for its members.

“We’re not doing anything that’s putting people in harm’s way. We’re not in an unsafe environment, we’re still following our diligent cleaning lists. We’re still keeping up with everything and making sure that people are protected and safe.”

Bellamy also said that because Prevail kept the tanning and supplement portion of their business open, the business does not qualify for a provincial relief grant.