When Jim Francis went to his local fitness equipment store to buy some weights earlier this week, he was greeted with a sight he couldn’t believe.
At the Treadmill Factory in Markham, Francis witnessed longer lines and nearly empty shelves as people rushed to buy everything in the store.
Francis, an avid gym goer, tells 680 News that he was surprised in the amount of people in the store.
“I went in there and I could not believe my eyes. I felt panic that I had to try and organize what I wanted as fast as I could because they were running out of everything,” he said.
He described what he saw as something similar to the stories that have come out of people buying out toilet paper and cleaning products amid fears surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“People were just grabbing what they could find,” Francis said. “I felt like I had to make my decision really fast, and get my money out as quickly as I could and grab whatever.”
The increase in buyers to gym equipment stores comes as gyms like Goodlife Fitness and Fit4Less announced on Monday that they will be closing down their Canadian stores in an attempt to help reduce the local spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last few days, cases of the the novel coronavirus have risen greatly throughout Canada. Total cases of the coronavirus in the country have risen to over 600 infected. Most of the confirmed cases are situated in Ontario, B.C and Alberta.
It’s this steady rise in cases that led the Ontario government to declare a national emergency on Tuesday.
As part of that announced national emergency, Premier Doug Ford ordered the temporary shutdown of social services including gyms and other recreation centres until March 31, in an attempt to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and push Canadians to stay at home and self-isolate.
The shutdown of gyms has led to a rush of people heading to retail fitness equipment stores in and around Toronto in an attempt to continue their workout routine at home.
The president of the Treadmill Factory, Victor Proudian, tells 680 News that business at the fitness retail chain has surged in the last few days.
“We’ve probably done in the last three days what we typically would do in 15,” Proudian said.
He said that sales of everything from weights and dumbbells to treadmills have risen well above the company’s expectations.
Proudian adds that the retail chain has to take extra precautions to avoid any possible spread of the virus, now that more people are coming to the store.
“We’ve taken precautions where we now have monitors, so every five feet in a line, everybody stays five feet away from one another,” he said. “Anybody that has a cold or cough is not allowed into the premises. We encourage them to shop online.”
The rise isn’t just limited to one store in Markham. Across parts of the city and in the GTA, there have been a rise of people buying out workout equipment. Everywhere from Foremost Fitness on Avenue Rd to HHC Home Fitness and Exercise Equipment rental in North York, have reported a increase of people buying equipment.
Fitness Depot on Yonge St. said there were long lines and in their Etobicoke branch they were completely sold out when it came to dumbbells and weights.
However, a representative from Fitness Depot informed 680 News that just because their stores have sold more than expected, that doesn’t mean their stock is completely gone and that they will be restocked soon.
For Proudian, he said the recent rush of people buying equipment is coming from people reacting to uncertain times brought on by COVID-19 as well as concerns around the continued push for Canadians to self-isolate.
“We don’t know when the government’s going to quarantine everyone to stay home,” he said. “I think the rush is people coming and purchasing product in case that happened and at least they’re still able to get a workout in.”