I’ve never been someone who likes to exercise at home. I like the accountability of training with other people, the adrenaline-pumping vibe of a fitness class packed with people I can silently compete with, and the focus that comes with putting your phone in a locker and just tuning into your body for the next hour.
But there’s nothing like a deadly pandemic to shift your perspective.
I live in New York City, and all of our gyms and fitness studios shut down in mid-March to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. That included both the boxing gym I go to twice a week and the communal gym in my apartment building that I use a few times a week. Similar restrictions are rolling out around the country, so if your gym hasn’t closed yet, you can expect it to soon.
And that’s a good thing. If we can learn anything from how other countries have handled the new coronavirus pandemic, it’s that small tweaks won’t cut it—we need as many people as possible to stay home (physically separated from anyone but their immediate household) as much as possible and as soon as possible in order to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.
I get that this sucks all around. It sucks for gym owners, employees, trainers, and group fitness instructors. And it sucks for your fitness routine. It sucks for mine too. One of my big intentions this year was to find a fitness community where I felt both at home and challenged, and I finally found that…right before everything changed. I finally felt like a regular at my boxing gym, I had a training schedule down, and gloving up after work was the highlight of my week. But then I had to stop going into the office for work—and going to the gym—and, well, you know the rest.
So here we are. Sidelined by a pandemic in more ways than one and trying to find some semblance of normal life in a situation that is anything but normal. I realize that thinking about your workout right now might seem silly or inappropriate. It certainly does to me. It’s easier to think about all of my friends working in hospitals, all of my colleagues on the front lines, all of the people who have lost jobs and businesses and money, and all of the people dying from this virus all over the world. But that’s the thing about a global crisis: What you can do often feels so small and insignificant, but if we all just did what we could do, we’d be a lot better off. And right now, for most of us, that’s staying home.
1. First and foremost, support your local gym and trainers if you have one.
There is no question that this pandemic will have far-reaching consequences on so many businesses—gyms included. So, if you belong to a gym that you want to continue supporting and you’re in a position to do so, consider keeping your membership going or buying gift cards or swag to use later. Any incoming revenue would be greatly appreciated right now—especially as many gyms are offering up completely free virtual programming for you in the interim (which I’ll get to in a second).
The same goes for personal trainers. If you were previously paying a certain amount in personal training each month and you’re able to continue doing that, consider continuing to pay your trainer during this time. They may even be able to train you remotely over FaceTime or Google Hangouts, or even write programming for you to follow at home.