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Having had the honor of representing Fitness Industry Council of Canada’s Quebec Coalition of fitness clubs and studios through the COVID-19 crisis, here are a few remarkable insights gathered as we worked towards the reopening date of June 22nd.


Close to 200 locations joined our Coalition to create a common voice to reassure both the government and public that fitness facilities were prepared to reopen safely. This included club chains, franchise studios, independent gyms, Yoga studios, etc. of all sizes and price ranges.  All of them have unique challenges and concerns, but they came together and contributed with an understanding that:

  • There is much more that unites us vs separates us. Putting our egos and competitive mindsets aside allowed for less anxiety throughout the crisis because they knew they were not alone. Seeing it as a shared experience allowed for much greater empathy and created a support network that will last long beyond COVID-19.
  • The provincial government sees “gyms” as one single category. There was a group in Quebec that claimed, and lobbied, that smaller studios should be allowed to open before “big box gyms” but we knew that wouldn’t be the case. Our Coalition members stood by one another, regardless of their differences, confident that any division would slow down our government relations work and create mistrust in the public opinion. That confidence was founded when our Coalition was the only group informed of the announcement date ahead of time by the Sport Minister’s office about the reopening date; they shared that they were pleased to work with a group that worked collaboratively and professionally towards a safe reopening plan.


Like in all times of crisis, the cream rises to the top. Owners and operators who communicated regularly not only with their members, but also with their teams are already reaping the benefits of their leadership. Some key best practices that made a big difference include:

  • Any news or decision is better than none: I sadly heard from fitness pros who as of reopening date had still not heard a word from their gyms! People count on their leaders to be decision makers no matter how difficult the situation, and fitness pros are realizing that indecision is actually a decision within itself. In times of crisis no news is definitely not good news and it put all owners and operators under a leadership culture microscope.
  • Reflection allows for creativity: most of us went into a reactive mode when the pandemic first hit, then great leaders began to mindfully reflect on how they could continue to serve their teams and clients. This led to them having the ability to connect with their own and their team’s creativity and pivot towards new offers including virtual fitness, family nutritional coaching, outdoor workouts, online challenges, and so much more.

It is my absolute pleasure to congratulate the following Quebec Coalition gyms and studios on their leadership during closures and wish them all fantastic reopening success!


Nathalie Lacombe, M. Sc.  Leadership coach and strategic partner.

Joyfully taking your leadership and business to the next level!

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