Pandemic-related restrictions have left many of us without a gym to go to, right when we seem to need wellness and self-care the most. Or — if gyms are open — many of us still feel wary of sharing equipment amidst a pandemic.
For avid gym-goers like me, the gym experience is about so much more than the space itself. It’s about fitness equipment, belonging, social connections, personalized training, and accountability. This might be why pandemic-related gym closures have felt so challenging.
But a closed gym doesn’t have to be the end of your fitness routine. Here are some alternative ways to work out when gyms are closed, based on your personality. See where you relate, then read on for some creative tips to exercise when the gym is closed — in the way that works for you.
The Equipment Enthusiast
This type of gym-goer chooses a gym solely based on its fitness equipment. If this is you, you balk at the idea of backyard bodyweight workouts or a rainy jog through the city. You sincerely miss the cardio machines, free weights, and more found at your local gym — and that’s entirely understandable. Pandemic-related gym closures have been particularly hard on this type.
Although there’s no simple fix, workarounds do abound. If home workouts are in your future for the foreseeable future, purchase the most important home fitness items within your budget. Research home workout equipment reviews to guide you. If you are in a quarantine social bubble with some friends or roommates, you may even share purchased exercise equipment among your group.
If it is safe and permitted to do so in your area, take advantage of public outdoor exercise equipment. Many cities offer outdoor parks with equipment such as pullup bars, sit-up benches, and more. You will need to make your own risk assessment and take precautions, of course, when using public equipment. Dress for the weather and follow any usage guidelines required by your city, and you might just find a new love of outdoor exercise.
The Fitness Class Fan
This type of gym-goer most values the gym for its workout classes. If you fall into this category, you rarely exercise solo. You know that you are far more likely to stay motivated while working out in a group — and you find it to be more fun!
With the gym closed, your greatest challenge right now is finding ways to make exercise feel social and inspiring. One way to do this is to connect with your friends over social workout apps such as Strava. Your feed will show one anothers’ recent runs and mile splits, which the inner competitor in me finds quite motivating. Sometimes I do run a little faster knowing that my friends could soon see it on their feed. You and your friends can give each other in-app cheers for progress as well. If running’s not for you, there are similar apps in your fitness mode of choice.
As another alternative, some fitness companies now offer socially-distant classes outdoors. And of course, there’s the (now-ubiquitous) virtual fitness class option. While not quite the same as sharing a studio, seeing others (virtually) sweat can be enough to keep you inspired through your workout.
The Personal Training Devotee
This type of gym-goer is likely to value the gym because of their personal trainer. They rely on the trainer’s guidance on proper exercise form, as well as personalized guidance on nutrition and workout planning.
If this is you, you’re in luck. Many personal trainers have adapted their services to alternative COVID-safe settings (i.e., offering personal training sessions outdoors if weather allows, or live online). Mobile apps for fitness routines, as well as personal trainers’ YouTube and social media accounts, could be supportive for this type of gym-goer as well.
The Accountable Athlete
For this type, the gym equates to accountability to commit to exercise. The most important thing about this type of person is not what they do at the gym, but rather, the fact that they need the gym to motivate them to workout.
If this is you, contemplate just what it is about the gym that motivates you to exercise. Then seek to replicate that another way. If it’s about “getting your money’s worth,” you might choose to invest in exercise equipment or an online fitness class subscription that you’ll be incentivized not to abandon. If personal training appointments or fitness class registrations once provided the accountability you need, find another way to make those commitments — some of the tips above can help.
I’ve seen some people stay accountable to gym visits simply because they promised to meet a friend at the gym. If you’re missing that standing gym date, see if that person would be willing to make other COVID-safe workout plans. Do what works for you to feel like your fitness plans are accountable to someone or something, even when the gym is not an option.
While it’s challenging to lose our go-to gym workouts for now, perhaps we can reframe this as an opportunity to find new ways we love to exercise. It’s worth the effort to keep our bodies healthy — it leads to a healthier mind and spirit, too.