By Garrett Thomson
With another lockdown in full effect in Toronto and Peel, gyms once again have had to shut down completely and find other ways to run their classes for their members.
Ultimate Athletics is a member-only gym in mid-town Toronto. Owners Paula Ryff and Vlad Randanovic have owned and operated the gym since 2011. It is well known in the Rosehill and mid-town area for its welcoming and positive atmosphere.
After the first lockdown in March 2020, the gym was forced to switch from in-class lessons to an online format. Ryff hopes it will be able to switch back, soon.
“It’s not sustainable for a year and a half or two years.”
Ryff says the classes are strong now, but the initial switch was rough. Now, classes are filmed using Instagram Live. “We have 300 total workouts on the Instagram Live page,” Ryff said, noting they span different skill levels.
Even though the restrictions were loosened during the summer and early fall months, the online classes were filmed for members that still wanted to be at home for their workout sessions. It was a big adjustment for many of the trainers.
“They were struggling to get their personalities on screen at first, but they have gotten better after nine months,” Ryff said. They have trainers teaching various classes from body workouts to pilates, with each class changing the order of workout and workout actions each time.
“It took them time to entertain the camera when no one is there,” Ryff said, talking about another big hurdle that has happened during the transition to online workouts at home.
She says the trainers had to learn to keep up the same energy that they would have as in-class, despite only being able to look at a phone screen and not see anyone else. She thinks all her staff have been doing a very good job at keeping the Ultimate Athletics spirit and atmosphere that the members would feel coming to the in-class sessions. With the pandemic going on as long as it has, Ultimate Athletics has still managed to keep up with the schedule it had before the lockdown and restrictions as best as they can. When the province allows gyms to open again, Ultimate Athletics hopes to pick up right where it left off.