GoodLife Fitness angers parents after it drops child care at 3 locations

GoodLife Fitness says it has closed its child minding services at three locations in the Greater Toronto Area because it insists the service was not being fully used.

Company says it has closed its JUMP! program at 3 GTA locations due to 'underutilization'

Nancy Bent, a single mother who works outside of the home, says since her son, 4, was a baby, she has been dropping him off at the JUMP! program at the Goodlife Fitness near Mount Pleasant Road and Davisville Avenue, while she works out. (Garry Asselstine / CBC)

GoodLife Fitness says it has closed its child minding services at three locations in the Greater Toronto Area because the service was not being fully used.

The three locations are:

  • Toronto Mount Pleasant GoodLife Fitness — closing July 14.

  • Thornhill GoodLife Fitness — closing July 14.

  • Markham Birchmount GoodLife Fitness — closed June 30.

Tracy Matthews, executive director of member services for GoodLife Fitness, said the JUMP! program, which provides the child care, is not being cut completely. 

More than 50 JUMP! locations in the GTA will remain open, with six locations in urban Toronto, two in Richmond Hill and one in Markham.

"We understand the value of the JUMP! Program for members and associates who require child minding services, and we are not eliminating the service. That said, we were forced to narrow the scope of the service due to underutilization," Matthews said in a statement.

But parents who exercise at the locations say the closure may force them to stop working out.

Nancy Bent runs down the street with her son, 4. She says the end of child minding at her GoodLife is a loss and it will be hard to keep up an active, healthy lifestyle without the program. (Garry Asselstine / CBC)

Nancy Bent, a single mother who works outside of the home, said the decision is extremely upsetting. Since her son, 4, was a baby, she has been dropping him off at the JUMP! program at the Toronto Mount Pleasant Club near Mount Pleasant Road and Davisville Avenue, while she works out.

"I was shocked and upset. I couldn't believe it. This program has been integral for me and my son," she said.

 "It's the only way I have been able to keep up an active, healthy lifestyle. It really doesn't fit with the message they're sending that everybody needs to live the good life."

Bent said there are no other options in the neighbourhood and she knows of no other gyms that offer programs for children while parents exercise.

Matthews said the company gave at least four weeks notice to members and associates that the service was coming to an end. She said signs were placed in the clubs and members were told by JUMP! staff when they dropped off their children. 

Councillor says service is worth fighting for

Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 22 St. Paul's, said it is an important service and he believes parents should fight to keep the program operating at the three locations.
Counc. Josh Matlow is encouraging parents to fight to keep GoodLife's child minding program open. (Garry Asselstine / CBC)

"I hope that by hearing from these parents and hopefully parents from across the city, GoodLife will make the right decision," he said.

The closure is also drawing criticism from Adrie Naylor, union representative with Workers United Canada, which represents 650 personal trainers at GoodLife clubs in Toronto, Ajax and Peterborough. 

"We would like to see GoodLife keep all the JUMP programs open," Naylor said in a statement.

"JUMP staff support GoodLife members and employees with young children who rely on this service in order to stay physically active and perform their jobs."

Last year, Matthews said the company closed 12 JUMP! facilities across Canada because they were also not being fully used.

On its website, the company said the service charges a drop-in fee and child care is provided for children aged 6 weeks to 12 years.