The coronavirus pandemic has prevented many of us from doing the things we love the most, including working out at the gym, which has taken a toll on people’s physical and mental health in the past year. However, as we have now entered a new year, the reopening of gyms in California may kickstart a better year of health for many people.
On January 24, California governor Gavin Newsom lifted the state's stay-at-home order, giving gyms the ability to reopen. Since, many gyms began opening back up and many trainers returned to work as soon as they could.
Courtney Hogan, a 10-year personal trainer at Hidden Alley CrossFit in Modesto, dedicates her life to helping people grow in their fitness journeys. She loves to see people live happy and healthy lifestyles, but when the gyms started closing, it was hard to do so. In many ways, it affected people’s physical and mental health.
“It was devastating when the gyms closed especially because the gym has a sense of community and safe space for people, particularly CrossFit is a very humbling experience for an individual. When I saw people get that taken away from them, they kind of spiraled because their sense of community was taken away from them,” Hogan explained.
That loss of that sense of community in the gym took a toll on some people's mental health like Stan State junior Tyra Hampton, who used to attend the gym on a regular basis, pre-Covid.
“My mental health was affected by not being able to go to the gym because I felt very lazy and unproductive throughout the day," Hampton said. "I also lost a lot of progress which made me feel unhappy about how I looked and felt.”
People's physical health was also negatively impacted when the gyms closed.
Hampton stated, “My physical health was affected when I wasn’t able to go to the gym because I felt that I had lost a lot of muscle and wasn’t able to maintain my weight as much. I feel like I did gain weight due to the gyms being closed and lost a bit of confidence because of it.”
Like Hampton and Hogan, many people realized when the gyms closed that their physical health is just as important as their mental health.
When the gyms were closed, many of them, like Hidden Alley CrossFit, created alternative ways to workout by offering livestreamed workouts, home workouts, and Facebook group chats where people could stay in contact with one another to keep each other accountable. Nevertheless, there isn't anything quite like working out together, in-person.
“I think what Covid has shown most people is that the gym gives them something to be a part of... they know that walking through that door gives them that feeling of accomplishment and I think that's what people love and really missed about the gym but it took Covid for them to realize that,” Hogan explained.
Hampton claimed that, after experiencing the shutdown, many people will be grateful to have access to gyms and that these places won't be taken for granted anymore.
“With reopening the gym, we are seeing class numbers go up even higher than what they were pre-Covid because I think people understand that they could workout at home, but they aren't getting the same thing emotionally out of it. Whereas, going to the gym, you get that extra push by your coach, peers, or trainer cheering you on or helping you get through things which you wouldn't necessarily get at home,” Hogan stated.
Hampton added, “Opening the gyms has helped people to focus on their physical health even more. Some people use the gym as a way to forget about the stress going on in their lives and I think it is important for the gyms to stay open with accommodations so people can stay safe and healthy.”
Living happy and healthy lifestyles is something many strive to obtain. With the gyms opening back up, people will get closer to achieving their goals while finding or regaining their sense of community, that safe space, and that stress reliever that can be beneficial to their physical and mental health.