Sydnie Mejia used to work out at the gym five days a week when she was studying marketing at Washington State University-Pullman, but the new coronavirus outbreak has forced her to change her exercise routine.
Mejia returned home to Longview after statewide stay-at-home orders forced universities to move classes online. With gyms also forced to close, Mejia spent an overcast Monday morning following a workout routine on her laptop from her driveway.
Owners of local gyms and fitness studios say they’re adapting their practices to offer virtual classes to people like Mejia. While the closures are creating a financial strain, many said the outbreak has forced them to get creative.
Brittney Sarkela, who owns Untamed Fitness North in Woodland, said she’s been posting daily workouts for clients on Facebook. She’s loaned equipment to members and started offering online classes through a video call service called Zoom.
“It’s been hard for a lot of members to motivate themselves at home,” she said Monday. “Being in the presence of other people, even though it’s via a computer screen, is still much better than doing it on your own because you can talk to each other and see each other. It’s way better than standing in your living room, staring out the window saying, ‘I could quit any time.’ ”
For those trying to stay active and healthy, Sarkela recommended putting the workout on a daily To Do list and recruiting friends or family members to provide accountability.
“Especially in a time like this, our health is so important and physical activity is key for health,” said Sarkela, 37. “I would recommend a little movement and a little sweat for anyone dealing with depression because it will get those endorphins up and improve your mood instead of sending you into that downward spiral.”
Dixie Burns, co-owner of Complete Physique Anytime Fitness in Kalama, said she posts daily workout routines, nutrition ideas and inspirational quotes on her Facebook page. She is offering 50% off virtual relaxation and stress relief hypnosis sessions during the coronavirus pandemic. And she plans to start virtual training sessions this month.
Burns, 43, said she will continue online classes even after businesses are allowed to reopen.
“(Going online) has actually been in the back of my mind for a while because we are a small community and I thought it would help us reach other people,” Burns said. “When this happened, I thought, ‘This is what I have to do now.’ It was always kind of there and now it’s forced me to do it this way.”
To stay healthy while being cooped up, Burns recommended moving and stretching every 30 minutes. Sitting for long periods “really does a number to our bodies,” so people should try to get outside and walk every day.
Shae Coleman, an owner of Holos Yoga and Wellness LLC in downtown Longview, said she planning to move to a new location across the street in The Merk just before the shutdown order. Until she can reopen in the new space, Holos is offering classes through Zoom. The schedule, which has been reduced, is available on her website and Facebook page.
“As an instructor, you have a class planned but you do take cues from the students. It’s harder to read the room when the room is just you and you’re kind of awkwardly teaching to a phone,” she said. “I like it. I wouldn’t want to do it forever, but it’s a really good skill to learn how to do to appeal to online and in person.”
Coleman, 27, said meditation can be helpful for mental health during this stressful time.
“Even though this has been a relatively devastating thing economically and emotionally, it’s also a good opportunity for us to look at how we’ve been operating in our daily lives and bringing in a little more mindfulness and a little more intention every day,” she said.
Mejia, 21, said she enjoyed her virtual workout from her laptop, but she didn’t think it was as intense as an in-person class. It’s harder to be motivated when on your own, she said, so she misses going to her regular workout classes.
Dash Minick, who owns FOE CrossFit in Longview with his wife, Gianna, said they are in their third week of hosting virtual workout classes. They also have loaned out equipment to members.
Every morning at 8:30 a.m., they host a coffee check in to chat with members before the class begins at 9 a.m., Minick said. They also have hosted trivia nights and issued fitness challenges, such as completing 500 burpees, which multiple gym members completed in the first day.
Minick, 43, recommends doing something active every day, drinking plenty of water and avoiding eating out of boredom. He echoed what others said about finding a community to provide accountability and cut through feelings of isolation.
While the future is uncertain due to the shutdowns, Minick said he thinks they can last a couple months. And he views the online classes as an opportunity to better personalize training for clients. He’s heard positive responses from participants and hopes to continue virtual training in the future.
“We are taking it as an opportunity to explore a new business model and figure out how we can incorporate both,” he said. “It’s actually been really nice. It’s kind of weird because we’re all stuck at home and everything seems so negative out there, but this has really been a great bright spot for us.”
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