As COVID-19 closed gyms and recreation centers across the country, more Canadians turned to home gyms and home exercise programs like Peloton to work up a sweat. Despite the shift, the head of Canada’s largest health club company, GoodLife Fitness Centers Inc., isn’t concerned about this trend.
“It’s actually not a threat at all, it’s a huge benefit,” said David Patchell-Evans, founder and CEO of GoodLife Fitness, in a television interview about their home for a private gym. “
On the road to the pandemic, Patchell-Evans stated that GoodLife Fitness is having its best year: The company has 320 clubs across the country and over a million members have signed up. After the outbreak of the pandemic, revenues were close to zero and around 80 percent of employees were temporarily laid off.
“I think the best way to say is that it was incredibly difficult. We were only open 57 days last year, all clubs, ”said Patchell-Evans. “We don’t charge when we’re not open and when we’re closed. We paid our employees for two weeks to make sure they were looked after.”
He added that the company worked with the government to apply for programs to support the business during this downturn. One of these programs was the LEEFF (Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility), which gives companies access to a bridging loan if they are struggling to generate income. LEEFF granted GoodLife Fitness loans of US $ 310 million.
Part of the company’s strategy was to adapt to these changing home training trends by offering a remote personal training program for its members back in June 2020.
Patchell-Evans remains optimistic that athletes will return to GoodLife fitness clubs once the pandemic has subsided.
“You can always do sit-ups and push-ups around your house, but it doesn’t make you nearly as responsible, it’s not that fun, you don’t have a sense of community,” he said. “We’ve made all kinds of online fitness available to people … but we know people prefer a club that they always have.”