Gyms turn into modern speakeasies (while liquor stores remain open)

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What a difference a century makes.

Back in the Roaring Twenties, alcohol was illegal in Ontario during the Prohibition period. Booze was deemed immoral, unhealthy, and a substance that might lead to very bad behaviour if over-consumed. Thus, if one wanted to imbibe, that required going to a “speakeasy” — a secret bar hidden from the prying eyes of law enforcement.

By 1927, Prohibition was over in Ontario, but the provincial government decided that it would be the entity retailing the once-forbidden hooch.

And so it is that the monopoly known as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario came into being, and continues to this day. Not even a global pandemic can force the LCBO to close its stores. Nope. Alcohol has morphed from forbidden fruit to essential remedy.

So how perverse is it that in 2021, it is the gym that is deemed harmful by the government, the bureaucracy and various medical advisors, despite a dearth of data proving this hypothesis? Forget about pumping iron and breaking a sweat on the treadmill to improve one’s health; now we are told by the premier himself to cower in the basement and bake copious quantities of cherry cheesecake to cope. What a solution!

But not everyone is obeying the edicts of Premier Doug “Let them eat cheesecake” Ford. Because some gyms are opening up illegally, daring the government to put them out of business. Meanwhile, other gyms are going underground, pretending to be closed but functioning as 21st century speakeasies.

We found one such gym in west end Toronto recently, and paid a visit to this “illegal” fitness facility that had its windows covered over in kraft paper to keep it hidden from the eyes of various snooping COVID-Karens. And we interviewed the fitness aficionados who were working out there, all of whom were of the opinion that lockdowns — including the gym closures — are doing more harm to society than good.

We agree. And we can’t help but note the perverse irony that in Doug Ford’s Ontario in 2021, liquor stores thrive while gym operators face huge fines for having the temerity to allow their members to improve their physical fitness. The world is surely upside-down…

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  • By Ezra Levant

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