Last Saturday morning I woke up at 7:25 without an alarm feeling no pressing need to meet any early morning commitment. As I took joy in the opportunity to linger in bed, I acknowledged the freedom that the COVID-19 pandemic had provided in releasing me of my dependency on the gym.
I signed up for my first gym membership when I was 31. That was 30 years ago. Working out has been a top priority my entire adult life. I was overweight in my youth and I attribute my values towards fitness to that experience and its impact on the self-esteem I felt lost when I didn’t feel good about myself.
The Gym Shutdown
As a gym goer, I would literally design my life schedule around the fitness classes I wanted to attend. I never thought this was ideal, but it was what it was.
My last visit to the gym was Friday, March 13, 2020. After my workout I had an exchange with a young woman in the locker room who attended the Tuesday evening core class that I took. She was flying to Las Vegas to spend the weekend with her boyfriend. She acknowledged the COVID-19 concerns that were becoming more pronounced, but she decided to go anyway. I completely understood.
The following Monday morning I received an email from the gym announcing that the facility was shutting down temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I wasn’t surprised, yet I freaked out from this news. I wondered how I was going to be able to maintain my fitness goals without the gym. Even in Northern California the weather wasn’t inviting enough to look forward to a walk in the hills around my home.
My New Fitness Beginning
The following day I dived into spin bike research mode on Amazon. California was ahead of the lock-down curve in the United States, so time was on my side with regards to inventory. The spin bike I ordered was delivered on Friday, March 20th. My husband Dean and I worked together to assemble the bike, which made its maiden voyage that weekend.
The bike has a holder which cradles my iPad and a bar where I lodge my phone to track the time. At first, I would watch spin classes on YouTube and then it occurred to me that I could consume any kind of content while I was spinning. I’ve read books, caught up on the news, checked the weather forecasts, and watched many interesting interviews and motivational videos while on that bike. It has become a routine I relish between 20 and 45 minutes six mornings a week.
A few weeks into my home workout regime I realized that my 2.5- and 5-pound dumbbells were no longer challenging enough so the hunt began for heavier weights. I would search online over the course of weeks to find a set, but inventory was nowhere to be found. Some two months later Dean came home with a pair of 8 pounders for me that he discovered while shopping at the big discount retail store in our city. A few weeks later I finally scored a pair of 10-pound dumbbells online.
When I was going to the gym the heaviest weights I would take on were 6 pounds. For shoulder work I would go for 4 or 5 pounds. Most of my lifting now is at 10 pounds and 8 for shoulder work. I can now pretty easily hoist a 35-pack of 16-ounce water bottles into a shopping cart.
In the Rear-View Mirror
I got an email from the gym I belonged to a few months ago inviting me to reinstate my membership. The decision was a no-brainer. I had managed to become stronger physically on my own. I discovered that I could do whatever workout I wanted on my own schedule. I feel like I took my life back while saving the cost of the membership.
As I look at this decision now from a place further in the rear-view mirror, I recognize that COVID-19 enabled me to shed a piece of my persona that I came to discover no longer fit. I no longer needed to associate being fit with belonging to a gym.
It has been a great revelation to discover that I can be great on my own.