Have lockdowns killed gyms or will they be more popular than ever?
We explore the new standard of fitness routines.
For Steph Claire Smith, there are many reasons for choosing to workout at home. But there is clearly a favorite. “You can just get out of bed and work out in your pajamas,” she laughs.
“It’s that simple. At the end of my bed I’ll start with yoga or Pilates, and I definitely don’t feel the need to put on my workout clothes every time.
She is far from being alone in her reflection either. Long before the pandemic hit and gyms were forced to close their doors and freeze memberships, millions of Australians were already adopting home workouts for a number of reasons: Class schedules that did not match their working hours, poor proximity to gyms, social anxiety … the list goes on.
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But for the gym rabbits who were suddenly stuck indoors 24/7 wondering how they were going to continue to stay fit and healthy, there were some concerns.
Sure, they could go for a walk or a run, but what about replicating the 45 minute Zen of yoga, or that Tabata burn?
Cue apps like KIC (Keep It Cleaner), the workout program that Melbourne-based model and fitness entrepreneur Smith successfully launched and co-founded with fellow influencer Laura Henshaw in 2018.
The virtual workout program includes everything from HIIT (high intensity interval training) to boxing to Pilates and meditation, guided by coaches and instructors.
Smith, 27, says his biggest advantage is that you can train “anywhere, anytime.” And as a new mom [her son Harvey was born in May], there is no way I can book a class at this time. I need flexibility.
In addition, some people are not confident in training in front of others. And if that prevents you from moving, you can exercise in the comfort of your own home.
Driven by Covid, gyms and coaches across the country have followed Smith’s lead of live streaming or pre-registration classes to keep their members active (and their bottom line replenished). Some have lent their equipment, while others have started offering personal training through FaceTime.
Ben Lucas, director of Flow Athletic fitness studio in Sydney, told Body + Soul that it was an incredibly difficult time.
As his business has successfully adapted and shifted to online offerings, Lucas admits he has had to dip into his savings to pay the bills and his staff. Financially speaking, he says, “it will take a few years to recover. It will be a great day when we can all go back to the gym. “
But what will gyms look like when they reopen in the not-so-distant future?
Expect factors like the requirement for vaccine passports, smaller classes, a one person per four square meters rule, additional deep cleaning, and much more extreme hygiene practices.
These companies have become “underpowered to juggle the many challenges of Covid,” says Jess Sullivan, who owns an F45 studio at Woolloomooloo in Sydney.
But despite the popularity of digital offerings, she anticipates “the demand to be crazy.” Nothing replaces face-to-face coaching, and you can’t beat the energy of the studio. Having a dedicated training location means you walk in the door and can forget about work, kids, dinner stuff … and just focus on you. No interruptions.
Perth-based sports psychologist Shayne Hanks, founder and director of Performance Boost, agrees. “From an exercise psychology standpoint, what we know that works are group settings – the likelihood of exercising is increased, mainly due to responsibility,” he said. he told Body + Soul.
“For many people, these sports executives become part of their identity and their culture, the feeling of belonging to a tribe. I think people will always want to be around other people who share their interests and understand their goals and aspirations.
Smith says, however, that there’s no reason to choose favorites – because the beauty of apps like KIC is that they complement other forms of exercise. “It really feels good to know that we were able to bring movement and motivation to people at times like these,” she says.
“But we also understand that there’s a reason the fitness industry is as important as it is. Because there must be something for everyone.
At home or away?
“When the confinement is lifted, you will find me at hairdressers, nail salons and my favorite restaurants. Where you won’t find me is the gym. We’ve all improved our skills a lot during this time, and when it comes to training I’ve found my rhythm … at home.
I accidentally received an Apple Watch just before the Delta outbreak in Sydney in June, and after spending the last few blocks overdoing carbs and pouring wine, I decided this one would be different.
Now, months later, I train every day. I’m obsessed with keeping my step count and completing workouts on a regular basis using the Sweat app by Kayla Itsines or yoga sessions on Apple Fitness +. With a long commute and a busy schedule, I found it too easy before the lockdown to walk past the gym.
But when my living room is my workout studio and the great outdoors my treadmill, I have no excuse for skipping a workout.
Bree Player, feature and lifestyle editor
“Hit me with a medicine ball and call me a masochist because I love being yelled at – by a fitness trainer, that is. I love to sweat and push myself to the limit for the coach to scream, “You can’t stop now, give me five more burpees.” Don’t you dare cry. GO!’ And I’ll moan and swear, but I’ll do it anyway. Because my limit when I train alone is never my real limit.
Nothing like an instructor yelling at you to really bring out your reservations. There is a dizzying rush when you’re all there with the same goal: to get the perfect selfie at the gym. I laugh.
I miss my gym buddies too. Normally we moan and complain about how the trainer tortures us which is a great bonding experience. We’ve tried working on Zoom together, but it’s just not the same. That’s why I can’t wait for the gyms to open up and let me back into their warm, albeit smelly embrace.
Adrienne Tam, senior screenwriter
Keep it simple
Keep It Cleaner Head Coach Danny Kennedy shares some tips for getting the most out of this easy home workout.
This is a beginner’s low impact full body workout. It will take you 20 minutes. There are two sets of 10 exercises to complete. Do each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second rest.
Complete all 10 exercises, then repeat.
- PLANK: Lying on your stomach, lift up on your forearms (shoulder width apart) and toes. Hold your body straight and level the ground. Keep your core engaged and don’t let your hips or lower back dip.
- SQUATS: Chin down, push your hips back, force your knees and finish with the glutes “on” up.
- SUMO SQUAT PULSES: Form a wide squat position, jerk between a deep squat and a standing position halfway.
- HIP PUSHES: Plant your feet on the ground, push your heels up, squeeze your glutes at the top, and slowly control on the way down.
- ALTERNATE FORWARD SLOTS: Step forward with one leg, keep your weight on the front heel, chest tilted slightly forward, pelvis tucked back then drop straight down. Push back with your front heel to stand up straight. Alternate sides.
- ALPINISTS: In a plank position, bring one knee to your elbow. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Legs alternated.
- BIKE CRUNCHES: Crunch, twist through your core and lead your shoulder to your opposite hip. Alternate sides.
- SITTING ON THE WALL: With feet shoulder-width apart, squat against a wall with your legs bent in front of you and make sure your weight is passing through your heels.
- CEMETERIES: Start in a plank position on your hands. Go down one by one on your forearms, then go up to your hands.
- TRICEPS DIP: Palms down, gripping the edge of a chair, lower yourself down until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Exhale to push back.
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