The last gym I went to in Colombia (my main place of residence), is NOT a conventional gym, it was not your typical gym where there are a lot of machines and everyone goes on their own, on the contrary my gym consisted of hour long classes focused on strength and endurance with a group of people that became part of your family. If I think about it, I even saw these people more often than many of my relatives, the coaches were phenomenal besides being great professionals, they made you feel at home, for me, that place was part of my life. These last 4 years I have traveled a lot and the gym I went to were quite flexible with my membership, because I was able to freeze my membership during the weeks, I spent traveling which never led me to officially part ways from my second home.
When I traveled, I also made sure that I had a backup secondary gym. Whether in the United States, or anywhere in the world that I was in, I made sure that the hotel where I was had a gym that I could attend. If for some reason I was in a place that definitely did not have a gym nearby I would go rely on my last resort which was to go out for an 8k-10k run around the area.
But like 100% of the world, 2020 truly changed everything, and the fitness industry is no exception. Gyms were among the first places that the governments all around the world closed and also in countries like Colombia, those places took even longer to reopen.
And while this was happening, Instagram, Zoom and all the virtual platforms were filled with virtual classes, trainers, and even the gyms themselves began to offer dance classes, strength classes, yoga and practically everything that they normally offered with a membership. Most of these classes were free, which is why a number of people were seen entering the fitness world due to having more time or as a way to cope with everything that was happening. With this class boom and being in the United States (my country, Colombia, closed its borders for almost 6 months allowing me to return only through a humanitarian flight) I tried out a variety of these virtual classes (although it was honestly a bit complicated). It was of the mentality in which I had, which led me to think there was something about doing a virtual class that was also free would not have the same results. However, like many other people, in a few days, I was filling a bag with many books to serve as weights, using heavy laundry detergents, and figuring out various ways that were honestly very innovative to try to make these at home workouts more efficient.
Time went by and some gyms still couldn’t reopen, and even led some into bankruptcy. Some gyms tried to relay on offering paid virtual classes to try and stay open, many of these at "high" prices had to drastically decrease their pricing because there were so many other gyms that were offering free virtual classes that still had amazing quality workouts.
People, including myself, got used to training at home, and began to see a different side of the fitness world. Noticing how much money you save, not spend time traveling, flexibility in schedules, wide variety of classes and above all you could stay longer at home without exposing yourself to COVID.
The reopening of gyms began to show us a bit of the old reality that we all once knew obviously with some new additions. These additions are all in place to be able to look out for the well-being of their members and to prevent the spread of COVID. Some precautions that begin to be put into place are having to pre-registration before group fitness classes, social distancing between machines and equipment, established maximum capacities, increase in the cleaning, closure of places like the saunas, required use of masks during training, taking your temperature, and offering contactless check in are also some other regulations that have been implemented. Technology has played a significant role during this change, gyms are able to offer more through their apps as well as add virtual personal training sessions and even have made checking in to the gyms a lot more efficient, which is amazing to see!
As people continue to return to their gyms or continue with their at home workouts, I believe that COVID definitely changed the fitness industry. Gyms had to restructure the way that new safety precautions were implemented but they also were able to restore that happy place to so many people. Some people were able to explore the fitness world during quarantine and it brought people to learn more about themselves or discover things about the fitness world that they may not have known before. Don’t forget that it is never too late to start your journey!
I continue to train from home or from wherever I am, gradually acquiring basic equipment that has helped me with my workouts. Although sometimes it amuses me to go back to my backpack filled with old textbooks. I miss my gym, the energy, the atmosphere, the community of amazing and inspiring individuals, the vibes, but I feel happy that I have been able to explore the fitness world in different ways that has allowed me to be able to train from anywhere in the world. I have learned to be able to train at my own pace and being my own motivation. My gym in Colombia opened its doors 1 week ago, although not all of my friends have returned, and it might be a while until it is the same place as before filled with all the side chatter and with those coffee dates after training, I know that I will be returning back to my place soon. But as for now I will continue discovering new classes and people through a screen.