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As safety guidelines limit gyms, pros offer alternatives for New Year's fitness goals

Posted at 9:25 AM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 09:25:50-05

Looking back, 2020 was probably not the best year for making gains in the gym.

“It’s a little bit different with the pandemic,” said gymgoer Blake Horstmann.

But now it’s a new year and more people are looking at making fitness a priority, even during the pandemic.

“We’re really hoping for a big spike in membership just like we do every year,” said Cate Plekon with the YMCA. “However, we also know we’re operating under very different guidelines.”

She says the start of the year is when most people look at joining gyms.

So far this year, however, the COVID-19 crisis has many members staying at home.

“Since we reopened in March, we’ve only seen about 47% of our current members return to our facilities,” she said. “Here at the Downtown Y, it’s been a little bit lower here.”

Experts say lowering physical activity can quickly lead to many other unhealthy habits.

“I think the biggest one is when you stop exercising, it continues to be a downward spiral,” said Dr. Patrick Schneider, department chair of exercise science at Belmont University.

Schneider says avoiding crowds could be good for avoiding the virus, but avoiding exercise altogether is bad for the body and the mind.

“I also think there were some mental health consequences as well when you look at some of the concerns associated with isolation,” he said.

Just to break even physically each week, Schneider says the average American needs to do almost three hours of moderate exercise, like walking, or 75 minutes of something a lot more vigorous, think kickboxing.

Across the country, many gyms are operating under new guidelines and many members are opting out of group fitness classes.

So, fitness instructor Mary Schiavone is sharing three simple body weight exercises you can do anywhere to keep in shape and stay safe.

First are squats.

“Keep the weight on your heels, chest up, shoulders back,” Schiavone said.

Next are jumping jacks.

“Just out and in,” she said. “Keep those knees soft.”

Finally, push-ups.

“Elbows go out. Chest to the floor. Press up,” Schiavone said. “Give me 20.”

As we get further away from 2020, gyms and their members are moving forward and better focusing on fitness during 2021.