(Annex Raw/Photo via @annexvictoria - Instagram)

In these times of uncertainty, one fitness studio has taken extra steps to make sure Victorians are able to safely get their workouts in after months of isolation.

Annex Fitness, a fast favourite Spin-Barre-Strength class provider located in the heart of downtown Victoria, realized early on that they would have to adapt in order to survive the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So in June, when gyms and fitness studios were allowed to reopen in the Island Health region with regulations in place, Annex was one of the first to implement strict guidelines and provide enough space for patrons to distance while still getting their sweat on.

As part of their plan, studio owner Morgan Jones and her team decided to space out the bikes in their Spin studio downtown and put the rest in a brand new studio at Uptown Shopping Centre!

See also: Victoria fitness studio launches free at-home workout sessions during period of self isolation

“Spin was the pain point because we have our Annex at Home classes and those are both uploaded every week with Barre and Strength classes, but we didn’t have a way to reach our Spin groups,” said Jones in a phone call with Victoria Buzz.

“We have a great relationship with Uptown… they’ve just been excellent people to work with. They were super accommodating and understanding of the bind we were in.”

Within three weeks of developing a new brand and signing a lease, Jones and her team officially launched Annex RAW on June 13—a gritty, no-frills concrete studio where patrons hop on a bike for 50 minutes, take on a high-energy sweat session, and head out right after, leaving no opportunity for interactions and a very low risk of virus transmission.

What’s great about Annex RAW is that it allows the studio to space out their Spin bikes at both downtown and Uptown locations.

At their downtown studio, Annex originally housed 36 bikes; this number has now been reduced to 14 to allow physical distancing between bikes. The Uptown studio can accommodate 22 riders with proper distancing in place.

According to Jones and Annex RAW studio coordinator Raquel, within two months the new studio has become a hit among patrons, partly due to its location. Free parking, a pedestrian-only section of the boulevard, and a plethora of outdoor seating just add to the draw of their Uptown location.

“We had a substantial drop off through the pandemic and into a little bit of opening,” adds Jones in talking about how patrons have reacted to the pandemic.

“But we’ve seen a lot of people start to feel more comfortable and come back to the routine workouts since our reopening. I do foresee that becoming stronger in September.”

Outdoor events

In addition to plans of increasing the number of classes held at Annex RAW come September, the studio has started hosting outdoor classes at Uptown’s pedestrian boulevard.

Every Friday morning, Annex team leaders and their squad of patrons take part in complementary outdoor Strength classes right in front of Starbucks and Walmart, as part of the studio’s new weekly Boot Camps.

Patrons should also keep their eyes peeled for ‘Ride the BLVD’ events in which bikes are set up right on the boulevard for Spin class members to ride.

Their next Ride the BLVD event is happening this Sunday, August 16, with slots at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and each rider receives a sweat towel, sunglasses and snacks courtesy of Whole Foods.

And later this month, on August 30, Annex team leaders will be hosting a Barre and Brunch event at 9 a.m. in partnership with Browns Social House

Barre enthusiasts can grab a spot right on the boulevard and head to Browns after their 50 minute class for a free mimosa and $5 off brunch special, for a fulfilling post-workout meal!

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