Marie Labrosse, a master’s student in English at McGill University contributed to this story.
Val Desjardins, celebrity trainer, LGBTQ advocate, and entrepreneur was one of the first fitness providers in Montreal to close her studio on March 13, 2020. With 250 customers circulating daily through 20,000 square feet, the studio owner did not feel that she could guarantee the safety of her clients and staff.
“People come to me because they trust me to take care of their health and wellness,” Desjardins remarked. “The irony of the threat of a viral pandemic was too much.”
Initially, she did not see the closure as a long-term decision, expecting it to only last a few weeks. As it became clear that those weeks would stretch into multiple months, she started