Many people consider their gyms much more than a place to exercise. A gym can be a great place to socialize while trying to stay healthy. Having friends or fellow fitness enthusiasts around also can provide the motivation many people need to stay the course and achieve their fitness goals.
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association says more than 70 million consumers visited health clubs in 2017. That marked a record high since IHRSA began tracking data in 1987. Fitness memberships also are popular in Canada. GoodLife, the largest fitness club in Canada, has 400 different locations and more than 1.5 million members.
Fitness centers were among the many non-essential businesses forced to shutter as a result of COVID-19, forcing fitness enthusiasts to find new ways to stay mentally and physically fit. Many creative ideas have surfaced.
• Online classes: An internet connection is all that’s necessary to find a number of workouts that can be streamed from the comfort of home. The streaming website YouTube can be a gold mine for free workouts. Some cable service providers also may have On Demand fitness channels or rentals that can mirror some of the classes taken at the gym.
• Social apps: Gym-goers can inquire whether their gyms are offering alternative programs. For example, Jersey Strong, a fitness chain in New Jersey, began live-streaming many of its popular group fitness classes via a special Facebook page. Class instructors guide classes from their own homes or from empty gyms. Other gyms may provide links to subscriber-based gym training workouts free of charge.
• The great outdoors: Even though some parks, beaches and trails have been closed, workouts can take place in and around the neighborhood. Jogging or walking can be excellent cardiovascular exercises, as can taking a bicycle ride for a few miles down neighborhood streets. People who live in rural areas can run through forested land or even farmland. Pushups, sit-ups, planks, and other body weight exercises can be done right in the backyard. Before making a decision about whether or not to be active outside, be sure to check the latest guidance from your local health department and community or state leaders.
• Remote sports: Videos of city dwellers playing tennis across roof tops for much-needed air and exercise have emerged in recent weeks. Similar benefits can be achieved with a game of catch, volleyball or racquet sports over fences with neighbors, provided limits on participants are placed and social distancing is maintained.
Staying fit during COVID-19 restrictions takes some ingenuity, but it’s certainly possible to maintain your overall health. In fact, some people have found they now have more time to exercise than they did before.