While gyms and fitness centers are closed for the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, that doesn’t mean fitness comes to a halt.
“People used to use the excuse of lack of time to not get their bodies moving,” said Sean Walker, co-owner of Frame Fitness. “But now there’s time so to let your body go into a confined state just because you are trapped in your house is self-sabotage.”
Frame Fitness is just one of the local gyms that has been impacted by the order from Gov. Ralph Northam to limit the number of patrons to 10. The gym has closed its doors for the time being and is finding ways to motivate its clients through electronic means.
At Iron-Bound Gym, owner Scott Grafton said the staff are working overtime to provide online videos and at-home training schedules for clients. After closing earlier in the week, the gym started a private Facebook group that allows clients to participate in group workout classes and have even started live workout videos.
Grafton said after dealing with adjusting to the new format, the gym has been able to offer classes on a schedule almost identical to when classes took place when the gym was open. He said it’s important to try and keep that consistency and provide some sort of resource for clients because exercising can help people process their emotions during this difficult time.
“The gym is a very close-knit community and we support one another,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s everyone’s escape from what they have going on in their lives. So we get 30 minutes of time to relieve stress and that’s why we feel so dedicated to our clients.”
While the online classes get underway, Grafton said it can still sometimes feel a bit odd to feel as though you’re working out by yourself and teaching a class. But knowing that others are joining in and providing live feedback makes the experience rewarding.
“It’s not perfect but the ‘live’ aspect keeps things as social as we can get right now,” he said.
Riverside’s Health System Wellness and Fitness Centers in Newport News and Gloucester closed Wednesday due to coronavirus concerns but Beth Gross, director of clinical wellness programming, said the staff isn’t giving up on providing resources for guests.
On Riverside Wellness Middle Peninsula’s social media, staff have been posting videos and photos with instructions of how to do at-home workouts.
Gross said the workouts are often modified to use everyday household items or simply a person’s own body weight.
Riverside’s clinical wellness programs are different from privately-owned gyms because the guests and trainers are working closely with feedback from physicians and physical therapists, Gross said. Riverside’s clinical wellness programs work with individuals who might need supervised rehabilitation work.
During this time, guests who require those services can access online routines created by an exercise specialist through social media.
Gross said the program is also offering its regular nutrition counseling services over the phone to help people stay healthy.
At Frame Fitness, Walker said he and co-owner Andre McLaughlin are encouraging clients to take this time and focus on a nutrition-oriented wellness plan.
“Nutrition is key to get people’s bodies to change,” Walker said. “Everyone has this time right now to educate yourself on what your body needs.”
McLaughlin added that education is important because while the shelves of grocery stores aren’t currently stocked with the typical produce, there are still ways to maintain healthy eating habits, such as eating canned tuna, which is high in protein.
For the privately-owned gyms, the issue isn’t just maintaining a level of connection and motivation with clients—it’s also hurting their bottom line.
“The scary part is we don’t know where we’re headed with the gym, or anyone’s business, because we just don’t know how long this will last,” Grafton said. “If we knew it was a week, or a definite time, then we could plan. But we just don’t know.”
Iron-Bound Gym employs approximately 34 part-time staff in addition to full-time staff who are continuing to work around the clock to provide their regular services to clients.
As the economy starts to take a downturn, the gym is understanding if people need to suspend their memberships but they are hoping residents will remain committed to supporting small businesses. In the meantime, the gym is just trying to focus on the well-being of staff and clients in the best way possible.
Walker and McLaughlin are also working to keep clients and staff at Frame Fitness motivated and are trying not to focus on any financial issues for the time being.
“For us, all we can do is embrace this situation in the best way we can,” Walker said. “We’re telling people to stay positive and do something to keep your mind and body moving. Embrace this time with your family too, because time is the only thing you really lose that you can’t get back.”
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