Fitness buffs turn to online options during outbreak

While those who normally keep up their physical fitness by going to gyms like Aerofit Healthclub, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced people to find alternative ways to exercise. From left are: Damon Davidson-Simmons and Eric Bohanon.

With the government shutting down non-essential businesses due to the coronavirus, business that have been among the hardest hit are gyms and fitness studios.

The lack of available workout facilities could also have a negative impact on the health of citizens, as many rely on gyms to round out their routine exercises. Gyms have since learned to adapt to the closures, though, as they've found ways online to help sustain their businesses and their customers' fitness.

"It is so important for our stress levels and our well-being to stay physically active, especially if we're cooped up in our homes," said Kimberly Dawson, owner of The Fitness Studio by Kim. "So whether they join an online class, or hire a trainer and do online training, or just find a buddy, they can Skype with and doing a workout, they should find something that they can do in their homes that keeps them moving. That helps their mental well-being, as well as our physical well-being during this time."

Dawson has transitioned her physical workout classes to virtual, and she's seen success, with new people signing up for memberships. New and old members have been participating in group fitness classes on Facebook Live. She is also offering members a chance to sign up for a single class streamed on Zoom, and those who do so get the first class for free.

"The only challenge has been we don't have the same equipment that we have in the gym, so we have to be a little bit more creative, but it's not horrible," said Dawson. "Back in the day when I taught at NSU with no equipment, no mirrors, no nothing, I had to be creative all the time. So it's really taken me back to that."

While some people enjoy the solitude of working out alone, many others thrive on pack participation. It provides community, but also accountability.

"So if they're doing it live on Facebook, they know all of their classmates are there with them doing it, too," said Dawson. "So there's a little bit of an accountability piece, knowing I will be live at 5 o'clock and I want to see you live on there with me."

Exercise buffs can find links to classes offering by the Fitness Studio by Kim on the business's Facebook page. Memberships, which come with unlimited Facebook Live workouts, are $50, or $75 with equipment rental. Those who might be hesitant to go online might try finding a technology-savvy neighbor or family member to help them get signed up. For more information, call 918-521-2432.

While the city of Tahlequah has a curfew in place, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., that still gives locals plenty of time to get outdoors for a run. There are also a variety of at-home workouts available for free on YouTube. What many fitness experts stress the importance of is having a plan, so a little online research can help a beginner turn into a fitness guru.

Aerofit Healthclub has shared an online platform of workout classes with Les Mills on its Facebook page that is free.

In a Facebook post, owner Russ Warner also encouraged members to keep up with their monthly payments.

"Because when this is all over, every gym owner wants all of their members to have a gym to come back to," he said.

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