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Entrance into Rady facility – Members are screened prior to entry

Free weights area on fitness floor with clearly marked physical distancing safe spots

Cycle studio with physical distancing decals in place

Rady staff getting thorough physical distance training in Group Studio


by Rhonda Spivak, Aug 4, 2020

On June 15, after having gone  into lock down on March 16  due to the coronavirus pandemic,  the Rady JCC re-opened  its fitness and aquatics facilities  and welcomed back members. As Zac Minuk, Director of Development, Partnerships and Communications of the Rady JCC wrote to the Winnipeg Jewish Review in an email, "We did this with proper physical distancing and increased sanitization measures in place. Five weeks later, the reaction from our members continues to be extremely positive. We continue to work hard to ensure members who made the decision to return continue to have positive experiences while at Rady – just like how it was before the pandemic hit."

Minuk added that "We continue to ask and listen to our members on how we can heighten their time spent here. When our members talk, we listen. For example, one of the comments we received a few times was the suggestion that more frequent cleaning should be taking place on the fitness floor. While we already have our fitness staff wiping down machines and cleaning commonly touched surfaces regularly as well as have an intensive sanitization schedule in place for the Asper Campus cleaning staff, we could still be doing more.

"To address this, I am happy to say we hired four summer students as part of our Rady Wellness Crew. We have one crew member on duty during all regular hours of operation. Their duties are to continually clean and sanitize our machines and frequently touched surfaces as well as enforce physical distancing restrictions. They are easily identifiable by their Wellness Crew t-shirts."

Under current restrictions, there is a maximum capacity of 70 people total at one time working out, a 50% maximum capacity on the fitness centre floor, and  workouts are limited to 90 minutes in consideration of others.

As Minuk noted regarding the number of people who have attended the Rady JCC since it has re-opened, "In terms of numbers - we saw ebbs and flows over the first month with a gradual overall rise. Our fitness floor maximum count is 70 people due to mandated provincial physical distancing rules. We are seeing anywhere from 20% - close to 70% capacity throughout each day so far. To help members, we launched a live fitness centre capacity counter that we update every two hours during our normal hours of operation that can be found on our website homepage. This allows members to know what our counts are before they come for their workouts. Members really are happy about this."


There are also a number of  new procedures/ policies in place. For example, members’ temperatures will be taken with a non-contact temperature gun and members will be denied entry if  their temperature is above normal. The Rady JCC will also only accept contactless forms of payment.


As Minuk explained, "We have gradually been adding amenities over the past five weeks with plans to add more going into the latter part of the summer. When we opened our aquatics facility, we initially only allowed pre-bookings for lap swimming in 3 lanes only. Our lanes were booked solid right away. After analysis, we added two more lanes for a total of 5 lanes now available for pre-booking. Late last month, we made the decision to add sports and recreation activities including pickleball, badminton, and basketball. We’ve also added additional group fitness classes as well as Pilates classes."


As Minuk emphasized, " Everything we have done and continue to do is done so with the health and well-being of our members, staff, and volunteers top-of-mind. We want to ensure that every decision we make as we push forward into the summer months is the proper decision."


Both the men’s and the women’s locker rooms have been closed but in a message to Rady JCC Friends dated July 16 Rob Berkowits, Executive Director of the Rady JCC wrote that on Tuesday, August 4, "men’s and women’s locker rooms will reopen for you with physical distancing measures in place."  In that same message Berkowits wrote that on Aug 4, showers are scheduled to be re-opened. 


All Rady JCC water fountains have been shut off, and members are required to bring their own bottled water. Due to the need to  practice physical distancing, certain exercise equipment and machines has been blocked off from use. Equipment that is difficult to clean such as foam rollers and yoga blocks will be unavailable.  Drop-ins are no longer allowed for classes, and the booking system must be used to reserve classes in advance. Members are required to wear masks while entering and exiting the Rady JCC and may choose at their own discretion to wear masks while on the fitness floor.  Gloves are not required. 


Additionally, the family change room is open specifically for individuals using the pool only and it is limited to a maximum of six people at a time. The Rady towel service is currently not be available, and the Rady steam rooms are closed until further notice. 


In  a message to Rady JCC Friends dated July 2, 2020, Berkowits wrote that "what makes the Rady different" is "our dedicated Rady staff." As he noted ," Whether you are a regular lap swimmer in our aquatics facility, enjoy the occasional game of pickleball, have attended one of our cultural programs or anything else, chances are you know our some of our staff by name. You’ve shared laughs, moments, and conversations. They are here for you while you are here and are a part of your Rady experience."


"No matter the area of our organization, our staff go above and beyond to ensure you have positive interactions. They are what drive our organization forward and are a primary reason why we are able to make the community-at-large a better place."


Berkowits ended his July 2 message by saying, "So when someone asks me what makes Rady different, I am proud to tell them it is our staff. And I am even prouder to say that I work alongside them." 


Minuk added,"For any member who isn't quite ready or comfortable enough to come back to the Rady yet, we've allowed them to extend their membership freeze at zero cost until September. When they are ready to come back, we will be ready to welcome them.


It is also worth noting that the 2020 Rady JCC Day Camps sold out within two weeks. As Minuk wrote "This is something we are incredibly proud of....We are approaching the end of Week 3 and the reaction from our campers and their parents have been incredible. Here’s a small testimonial we received from one of our camper’s parents:

Dear sir/madam,

Typically, my daughter takes Mini U summer camps… this year, because all Mini U camps were shut-down, we decided to give the Rady Centre camps a try; thank goodness we did.  In all of her years of Mini U, I don’t think I’ve ever heard as many positive comments about her experience as I did after picking her up from today’s Cookies, Cakes and more camp.  She felt included, respected and cared for by the leaders and most importantly, she came home incredibly happy and exited about tomorrows events.  The experience from dropping her off in the morning to the plethora of helpers guiding parents to their children in the rain were all top notch.

I just wanted to give my kudos to everyone involved.  What a great experience.  We wish we had discovered the Rady camps much earlier.

A sincere thank-you. "


Minuk also noted that earlier this summer, the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba rolled out the first and second stages of its three-stage COVID-19 emergency grants. These grants are earmarked for Jewish organizations facing hardships due to the pandemic. "The Rady is proud to be a grant recipient for both stages," Minuk stated.


Additonally, Minuk pointed out that "Earlier this week, The Winnipeg Foundation announced the allocation of $8.9 million in Stabilization Grants to 279 Winnipeg charities, meant to support the short- and medium-term financial needs of local charities affected by revenue loss and unexpected expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We here at the Rady JCC were honoured to be one of these recipients.


"We want to thank both the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and The Winnipeg Foundation for their ongoing support and leadership during these unprecedented times."


Minuk also stated that "Finally, throughout the pandemic, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg have been in constant communication with us, demonstrating outstanding leadership and poise as we navigate these waters. Federation President Joel Lazer and CEO Elaine Goldstine continue to work hard in order to ensure the sustainability of all its beneficiary agencies’ both throughout and long after the pandemic subsides."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.