Bring the gym home during shutdowns

By George Stahl

People have been forced to make many lifestyle changes since the onset of COVID-19.

We have had to adjust to social distancing, wearing face coverings everywhere, and not meeting in groups larger than what the regional authorities strongly suggest as “safe.” Speaking of the authorities, depending on which state, county, city or town you live in, the restrictions can range from rather lenient to extremely prohibitive.

Aside from the day-to-day activities we have been forced to cut out of our lives, and the fact that our children cannot attend school in their classrooms, and most of us cannot go to our offices or place of business and are working from home, we have had to become rather innovative and imaginative in our daily physical activities.

Before the coronavirus reared its ugly self, according to wellness creatives.com, 64.2 million people had gym memberships in 2018 in the U.S. These health club members used a club for an average of 104 days a year. The average age for gym memberships was not in the teens and 20s category. It was more in the over 40 range, including our senior citizens.

Pre-coronavirus, gyms were being challenged
to widen their scope of workout routines they offered. To satisfy their rapidly growing member-ships, they were offering group classes for those who wanted to experience the gym, but who had no interest in bulking up.

These folks just wanted to stay fit and healthy. Class-es like yoga, Zumba, barre and kickboxing became popular among the older members. Some gyms contracted with larger distributors of fitness programs and were including classes like Les Mills Body Pump and Body Combat. We saw classes for older members, offered as Silver Sneakers and Silver and Fit classes. Insurance companies, if you were lucky enough to have one, would even cover some of these as wellness, or preventative maintenance.

People across the country were ready to get and stay physically fit. Then came COVID-19, and with it, fitness worlds came crashing down. Self-quarantine and shutdowns happened, and aside from the obvious concerns about contracting the virus, came the concern about what to do now. We couldn’t get to the gyms. They were not considered essential enough to remain open. This happened in March at the height of social activities and the school year.

About that time, there was a run on every store that sold workout equipment. The selection of hand weights, dumbbells, and wrist and ankle weights was depleted almost as quickly as the supply of the nation’s toilet paper.

It wasn’t too long though before some of the franchise gyms were posting workout videos on YouTube that their customers could use in their homes. But what if, and this is a big what if in today’s world, you didn’t have access to a computer? Or if you didn’t have weights?

Now, in some areas, gyms are reopening with strict rules and occupancy adjustments, but there are still some workout centers that have not been given the go-ahead to resume training. Even if your gym has reopened, you may not feel comfortable with working out, even with a limited number of people around you. If either of those is the case with you, Dana Ward, certified personal trainer and owner of Bfit4Life Boot Camp in Chandler, Arizona, has some advice.

“If you can’t get to a gym, you can bring the gym home,” said Ward, who has been in the fitness field for over 15 years. “If you already have a good cardio routine going, like walking, eating healthy, and bike riding, all you have to do is introduce some strength training and you can stay in great shape until your gym is available again.”
No weights, no problem. Ward says that using everyday household items in their place works great.

“Soup cans, canned vegetables and gallons of water or milk, or laundry detergent containers make great hand weights, and you can use them to keep your resistance up. You can also use exercise resistance bands and even your own bodyweight to maintain what you started in the gym,” Ward said. “Just use your imagination and a broomstick can easily be used as a bar, add the water jugs and there you go. You can do curls, and overhead presses.

“I recommend a routine of your daily cardio activity, with three to four days of a body workout. Pick a part you want to work on, and do 15 to 20 reps four times each. Chest, back, shoulders, quads, abs and so on,” Ward explained. “If you do that, you should be fine, and ready to go back to the gym when you can.” Not all gyms in all areas have reopened. We suggest you check with yours dai-ly. That seems to be how fast things are changing as we all do what we can to get through this virus, safe and healthy on the other side.

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