TORONTO -- GoodLife Fitness has been consulting with an emergency physician as it prepares to reopen more of its gyms across Ontario this Friday.

Right now, the doors are open at 86 of the fitness chain’s locations with even more gyms reopening on Friday when Peel Region and Toronto enter Stage 3 of the province’s regional reopening plan.

That’s why Goodlife has been consulting with Advanced Performance Healthcare Design since May.

“You don’t really know where the blinds spots are until you crash-test it and that’s the analogy we use - we’re the crash-testers,“ Dr. Christopher Hicks, an emergency physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, told CTV News Toronto.

Dr. Hicks said he has used everything from mathematical calculations to role-playing with staff to simulations.


“For example, trying to get into the club but not having booked a time, things like that. And we had a mannequin there because I think one of the things that people haven’t thought through, perhaps as thoroughly as they should have, is how do you respond to a medical emergency in the COVID-era,” Hicks explains.

One surprise he and his partner Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak found during testing was the challenges simply entering the gym might pose. While most clients of the gym were aware of the need for hand sanitizing upon arrival, the doctors say that the position of sanitizer dispensers is key.

“If you put the hand sanitizer off to the side, people are going to walk past it and perhaps not notice it. You kind of have to put it right in their way,” Hicks said.

As for mask use, he said clients should follow the recommendations of local health officials, meaning in Toronto, masks must be worn inside.

Hicks said Advanced Performance Healthcare Designs will continue to tweak safety protocols as needed at the gyms. And he reminds clients that using the facilities is a social contract.

“We’re all learning more and more just how much our behaviour affects others,” he said.