I would have to sum up Quarantine Fitness with…” Where there is a will, there is a way!”
As a lifelong workout/fitness guy, imagine my surprise when all my gyms one by one started closing this last March. Here is my tale about how I kept my workout routine through the COVID-19 quarantine.
My primary gym is Life Time Fitness in Laguna Niguel. It is a big/beautiful gym with a lovely locker room, spa, pool, and incredible workout floor. It is also considered a “big-box corporate gym.” So, because of that, it was the first of my gyms to close. After the “infamous” Newsom speech in early March, I knew it was only a matter of time. Until then, however, each day, I would show up with great hope, and yes, it was OPEN! Until it wasn't! A few days after the Newsome speech, at midnight, I received the corporate email that the gym would close and remain close until “safe to open per California guidelines.”
Ah-ha! There is a good gym with my Monarch Beach Resort membership. Open 24 hours. Good cardio equipment and they even added additional heavier dumbbell weights for me! I'll go there. I showed up at my normal 4:30 am, and no one else was in the gym, so I can still get my cardio in and a decent weight workout. Well, at least I did for seven days! On day 7, I received a late-night text from resort management that due to COVID, they were required to shut down the gym.
OK, I do have some equipment at home. A PowerBlock dumbbell set from 5-95lbs. A bench. Pull Up rings. Dip bars. My only concern is working out without waking up my wife and four-year-old daughter! And how will I do cardio? So, I went down to Laguna Beach High School Football field. It's OPEN. And they have great bleachers. Great for running. That's how I would get my 30-minute cardio.
Additionally, I ran into a few friends that do a 60-minute circuit training on the field from 6:00-7:00 am. “Can I join you,” I ask? Sure! Btw, I have some cool workout toys! “Bring them!” they say. So, my new protocol became weights at home from 5:00-6:00 am, then meet “the gang” from 6:00-7:00 on the field.
The “gang” are more into running and calisthenics, and I am more of a weight trainer. So, I brought some of my “toys,” and we met in the middle with some excellent HIIT training. Some of my favorite toys are battle rope, dumbbells, sandbag kettlebell, Bisou Ball, Ab Roller, and a jump rope. We would end every session with four 1-minute planks.
Wait — I got a call from a local personal training gym (gym to remain nameless to protect the innocent!). She said, “Hey, I can't train anyone, but if you want, I will sell you an hour's time slot every morning, and I'll make sure there is adequate time for you to leave and the next person to come in and clean, etc. I said, “OF COURSE!” I didn't even ask how much — it didn't matter! I would have a gym where I could work out.
So, I took the 5:00-6:00 am slot. Every morning, I opened the gym, turned on the lights, and got great workouts. I would then meet the “gang” back at the field for the HIIT training.
So, this lasted about 45 days. When finally, the gym owner called and said she could not survive like this. So, she was again going to train people, one at a time at her gym. What that ultimately meant for me was no time slots for me in the early morning! Back to NO GYM.
So, back to training at home and the football field.
That lasted about 30 days. For those keeping track, we are now into May. By then, the football field was technically “closed,” with a sign, etc. But the auto timing on the gate was still on, which meant we could still get in and train!!! We were discreet and kept it quiet. And that worked — for about two weeks.
Then the gate would no longer open. No problem, we got the smallest guy, pushed him under the fence, and he would unlock the gate! That too lasted — about one week.
The maintenance man was keeping an eye on us for about a week and never said anything. Until one day, he said that he was receiving pressure from his superiors and had to ask us to leave. At that point, I was separated from my crew. My buddy Jon and I were running stairs; the rest of the crew was on the track. He approached the crew first. So, one of the crew, who we refer to as Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh), really gave the guy some lip. You might be able to guess what happened next.
The maintenance guy called the cops. In the meantime, the crew left. When he came and told us we had to go, Jon and I realized that he was just doing his job. But before we walked out, three cop cars pulled up!!!! Jon wanted to run out the back way, but I told him, let's just face them. I walked out and said, “Well, you caught me!” They actually laughed, and I agreed not to come back (for now!)
That meant back to working out at home only.
Until — a buddy called me to tell me of this “underground,” “speak easy” gym in another city (to remain nameless) that for a PRICE, I could get the side door code, and could work out whenever. I said, “I'M IN”! So, I paid a fortune and added another gym membership to my quiver.
This place was more of an old school, powerlifting, cross fit gym. That's OK; it has cardio equipment and all the machines and weights I needed!
That gym served me very well. It didn't matter that I was driving farther — I had a gym!
By June 12, my primary gym, Life Time Fitness, reopened, with all the safety features. They even opened back at 4:00 am like usual! Many of the amenities like the jacuzzi, steam room, and spa were not open, but the workout floor is operational. And like other gyms, socially spaced equipment. I am so grateful to the “speakeasy” gym that I did keep my membership there as a sign of support.
I even make the Channel 7 KABC morning news as they were filming the “reopening” of gyms! It was great to be back and to see some of my old friends. Albeit many fewer. It seems that many people have either figured out other options or are not ready to get back to the crowds of a gym.
On June 5, Life Time implemented a mandatory mask requirement in the gym at all times. That means during workouts. While it was difficult and cumbersome, I appreciated that they were doing what they had to do to stay open.
It’s July 22 now, and gyms are closed again, but now I have a roadmap of what I can do, so I’m still working out! Remember, where there is a will, there is a way!!!