Fitness facility regulations leave less options to improve well-being

Increased COVID-19 restrictions and colder weather have increased barriers to improve physical and mental health


 By Catherine Mwitta

Recent COVID-19 gym closures and restrictions have left some students and community members with limited options for maintaining physical and mental health.

Some people have been suffering both physically and emotionally from increased time spent indoors, often as desks, combined with decreased time slots at the gym, and fewer options to exercise outside.

According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, regular physical activity can improve many aspects of mental and physical health, including cognition, cardiovascular health, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Langara student Kimberlyn Gacusan used to work out at the Langara Family YMCA. After the gym closed, she took on biking, but she said recently she no longer works-out outdoors due to the cold.

“Now that it’s colder [outside] it’s a lot harder to exercise.”

Less options and less motivation

Gacusan said without access to a gym, she feels the lack of work out equipment at her home, and the absence of peers around her.

“I don’t have all the equipment to use in comparison,” she said. “Before I had others to workout around me. [That] kind of motivates me to work out.”

Kathleen Emerson, program coordinator and kinesiology instructor at Langara College, said these recent closures are likely to affect some more than others.

It’s a measure of “how long can people function before they just start to feel too much lethargy,” said Emerson. “For some, if that’s going to the fitness class is the only thing that gets (people) out the door to be active, then they might struggle more.”

Langara men’s basketball player, Jas Dhuduwal, said that booking for gym time at his local recreation centre in Surrey is trickier than before.

“I only get an hour. You can’t do too much in an hour,” Dhuduwal said.

On Nov. 7, the B.C. government announced further COVID-19 restrictions on gyms, stating that fitness centres are no longer allowed to host group physical activities.

Less than two weeks later, the government extended those restrictions from their original set date of Nov. 23 till Dec. 7, declaring that citizens must wear masks while inside all public locations, including gyms.

Emerson said those who are regular exercisers will probably find something to do because they won’t be able to function well without that exercise routine.

“Because they’re missing out on that,” she said. “You know the positive drug that it gives them to be doing that regular physical activity.”


Free and low cost physical activity options in the Langara/South Vancouver area

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