WINNIPEG -- Monday was a day many in the fitness community have been waiting for in Manitoba.

Gyms and fitness clubs were allowed to welcome back members starting June 1, with limitations and restrictions.

At 30 Minute Hit on Corydon Avenue, owner Allison Bell said opening the doors for the first time since March 16 was emotional.

“Oh, I miss it! I am going to cry. I am so happy to be open!" she said while clapping.

In her morning session, she said had six members come to get their sweat on. 

Under the COVID-19 Phase 2 restrictions, the kickboxing-style workout she offers does have to be modified slightly. 

“Our members come in, gloves on, they don’t have to touch anything,” Bell said. “You do the whole circuit with your gloves on and then leave.”

Gyms are limited to 50 per cent capacity or one person per 10 square metres, whichever is less. Only six members can be on the floor at one time at 30 Minute Hit. 

Bell said their work stations are about five-and-a-half feet apart, but every other station will be empty, so there will be more than 10 feet between any two people at one time. 

Trainers also have to clean equipment more frequently. The facility has also closed the area members used to be able to use as a play area for their children.

“We are being even stricter than required because we are really being safe,” she said. 

Other guidelines the province has laid out for gyms include using a booking system to reserve time slots and allow time for proper cleaning between users, screening members for COVID-19, and managing the congregation of people coming in and out of the facility.

“With anything, we are not going to get to a zero-risk situation,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer. “It’s a balance, we are balancing the number of cases we have here, balance that with the benefit of physical activity and people getting back in there.”

“With all the appropriate precautions taking place — the spacing, the 50 per cent capacity — we feel that it’s a lower risk situation at this point.”

Dr. Roussin added people need to be screened, and he also said gyms can’t have somebody coming to work out while showing symptoms.

For group classes, the government guidelines say a space of two metres must be maintained between people during the course of the class.

Farther west down Corydon from 30 Minute Hit is Fit Club Winnipeg West. Manager Michelle Braithwaite says pre-pandemic, they would usually run 13 classes a day, with more than 25 people in each class.

To make sure all the protocols are in place, Fit Club isn’t opening until June 8.

On Monday, Braithewaite and a few staff members were taping out two metre sections on the floor.

“We have 20 spaces, but we are only going to have 10-12 people in here at one time,” she said. “So what we are going to do is, when we have one class in session, we are going to lock the door.”

Braithwaite said members will come in the front door and go out the back. 

“The best part about the way we have the floor laid out is that we have empty spaces, so that the next class will go on an empty space from the class before," she said.

The idea is each space is going to have time to air out and be cleaned before getting used again.

Fit Club was also last open March 16, and has since started an online fitness community, offering workouts, nutrition coaching, and Braithwaite decided to host a walking challenge for members.

Braithwaite said they are keeping their online program going.

“We’re only able to go a third of what we're used to with our in-gym program, so we still want to be able to give our members the advantage of working out and staying fit and getting ready for summer.”