Gym owners protest closure extension to no avail—plus insight from some local professionals

Gym members all over the island and province protested Premiere Legault’s extension of the closures for another 4 weeks last Thursday morning, urging that reopening gyms across the province can only be a positive thing for the mental health of the community

Going to the gym is considered essential for many out there and not just for the body, but perhaps for the mental health of many. Last week we touched on the fact that Legault wouldn’t bend to the pleas of gym owners and goers across the province and he urged that they remain closed for at least another 4 weeks, but the people took to the streets in front of their respective gyms to protest the decision, only not all gyms participated.

Training in Park Ex

There aren’t all that many places to train in Park Ex, but many travel to do their training when gyms are open that is. Of course if you’re a woman, you can always go to Econofitness on Jean Talon, but many people in Park Ex go far enough to the reaches of the island to do their lifting, martial arts training and what have you; only lately that hasn’t at all been possible, many even going as far as Montreal North and of course St-Leonard to do their weekly training.

On social media, pleas from all sorts of gym owners were seen and the threat of opening regardless of the decision seemed to be an empty threat soon after Legault shut them all down. In essence, Legault wants to keep the schools open and he wants to keep essential businesses open and those workers in those areas working, and of course gyms did not factor into his plans.

Econofitness on Jean Talon

Essentially the women’s gym on Jean Talon is the only place to actually train in Park Extension and I reached out to Renaud Beaudry, Vice President for Econofitness and he had this to say about the recent hubbub: “We follow the government and public health guidelines and will reopen on November 23rd as mandated.” The statement was surely brief and to the point, but in it a dedication to follow the rules is clearly shown, which is certainly something that not all gym owners have shown over the last few weeks.

Thai Long Muay Thai

Thai Long Muay Thai has been serving the community since 2011. They are on Jean Talon Street and many from Park Extension attend the gym when times are ‘normal,’ for lack of a better term. But they have suffered severely during the pandemic, like all other gyms. But to the rules set by the government, they say “We need to do whatever is the law.” I spoke to Jacques Zorayan, one of three owners and trainers at the gym (the other two partners are: Alan Yu and Elena Boscher), and he said: “It isn’t good for business … all gyms are struggling. There is help, but all help comes in the form of a loan.” Mixed feelings overall.

Part-owner and trainer Alan Yu posing for the camera inside the gym in what were better times all over the world

He says that many clients call in asking for refunds and cancellations but to this he says that any client wishing to not stop payments … all time will be given back to them, free of charge when things start rolling back to normal. Many are supportive, he adds, but not all.

2 of the owners and trainers at Thai Long Muay Thai, Jacques Zorayan (left) & Elena Boscher will willingly abide by the rules and extension set in place but of course an apprehension for their members’ and clients’ wellbeing is present as well

And one of his aforementioned partners, Elena Boscher has this to add: “I feel like the extension will be even longer than just the additional four weeks announced by the government. The winter is on its way; the cold will definitely add to the problems and the risk of spreading.” She studies at the University de Montreal where she studies to be a doctor and has studied psychology as well. She is actually in her residency and/or internship. She adds that the government’s decision has provided all with a fine line: On one side, it’ll help stop the spread of Covid-19, but on the other hand, the financial peril for businesses but moreover the mental anguish that this will put on those that can’t continue to train outweighs the good this will do.

“We had a very strict protocol,” she states … the gym and all trainers and employees strict and vigilant with sanitizers and cleaning regulations. They could have certainly stayed open. “After all, sport is a coping mechanism” she states. Now, there is no chance for that, and for the foreseeable future, she feels.

Abasing oneself to the government’s decision

Of course, in the end, the gym owners conceded to the new rules but that doesn’t mean that the trouble for them as business owners is over, nor that the gym-goers have seen the last of a dark period. For those that train seriously and don’t have the space for home studio gyms, this was certainly a serious hit and one that will surely be felt by many, as training can prevent a plethora of physical and mental illnesses, as has been proven. So it remains to be seen and many hope that the forced closures will be at an end come the end of November.

What a typical class looks like at Thai Long Muay Thai … where many from Park Extension go to train on Jean Talon Street

Training at home

Jacques Zorayan of Thai Long Muay Thai started training in Karate when he was young. He parlayed those skills to kickboxing and then to Muay Thai and has been training in that field ever since. We have covered the benefits of training at home in previous articles but Jacques stresses this importance as well. He encourages people to stay active at home, despite not having all the tools. For martial artists in Park Extension, or anywhere else, he urges that jogging, shadow-boxing and bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups are crucial. “Using the imagination is key,” he says.