An unlicensed Kelowna martial arts studio has drawn the ire of a national fitness group for its anti-vaccine and anti-mask policies.
Kelowna’s Flow Academy made headlines last week after a notice posted to their website garnered social media attention. The gym listed several uncited claims about COVID-19 vaccines and said it wouldn’t entertain membership applications from people who had received the jab, nor would it allow people to wear masks in its facility.
Currently, only individual and one-on-one fitness is allowed to operate in B.C., with physical distancing and masks mandated. Group exercise as a whole, both low- and high-intensity, is not allowed under current provincial health orders.
“Public health officials want us open; they want us serving our public’s mental and physical health. So, we need to support them back by abiding by the guidelines and restrictions they give us so we can remain open,” said Carl Ulmer, who alongside Sara Hodson co-chairs the B.C. coalition of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC).
The FIC represents more than 6,000 fitness facilities across the country and has been working with public health officials throughout the pandemic to represent the industry’s interests. Hodson said the controversy Flow Academy has conjured shines a negative light on the fitness industry that is not indicative of how most B.C. gyms are operating.
“It’s so disappointing to see that people are risking what we have worked really hard in this province to do — to keep at least a level of fitness open and keep it accessible to British Columbians,” said Hodson.
“I want to stress that it is not a typical situation, what we’re seeing in Kelowna. This is a one-off … The majority of fitness is absolutely complying with the standards put out by the provincial government.”
The City of Kelowna is currently weighing its options to take action against Flow Academy, as it is currently operating without a business licence — which has earned it two $500 fines from the city. The business recently applied for a licence, but the city denied that request as they’re breaking the law by not adhering to provincial health orders.
“We are considering further enforcement action,” said the city’s risk manager Lance Kayfish. “Now is certainly not the time to be acting out of step with provincial health orders.”
Interior Health (IH) previously issued an order and a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with provincial health orders in February. The health authority is again following up with the academy due to “ongoing concerns and additional complaints.”
The Capital News has reached out to Flow Academy for comment but has not received a response.
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