It was Monday, March 16. 6 AM.
Just a few days prior, the NBA shut it's doors and postponed the rest of the season due to Rudy Gobert testing positive for the Coronavirus.
Within 24 hours, more and more things got shut down,
Concerts, sporting events, music festivals, etc. etc.
From that moment forward, the gym was a ghost town.
At peak time, where there's usually no space to move about and little equipment available at any given time, we were lucky to hit 25% capacity.
But, on this particular Monday, traffic was still down, but seems to be on the rise again.
Patrons were a little more diligent with wiping off equipment as they were done using it, and what they touched, but it seemed like attendance was starting to pick up again.
If anybody asked if the gym was going to shut down, we told them we didn't have a clue (which was true), and that we would let them know when we got word.
All in all, it was business as usual.
A few hours pass by, and by noon that day, Governor Cuomo announced that all non-essential businesses, such as movie theaters, restaurants, and gyms would close that evening at 8pm in order to promote social distancing.
So within the course of a few hours, not only did we go from business as usual to shutting down THAT day indefinitely, that decree came straight from the Governor's mouth, and there was no escaping it.
In the blink of an eye, the fitness industry died.
Of course, there was/is a strong contingency of people that reside in the online fitness community, with coaches from all over the planet, but assuredly most of the people still train and put into practice their fitness at a gym.
They too, now lost that privelege.
And over the course of several weeks, multiple (if not all) states followed suit.
By the writing of this article, I'm sure 99% of gyms in the United States are closed.
The only exception being private gyms (in people's homes) or very small boutique 1-on-1 style gyms, where social distancing is easy to achieve.
Without gyms, there's no fitness.
But, just as quickly as the fitness industry died, it resurrected once again, like a Phoenix from the ashes. This time looking very differently.
Walmart, Dicks Sporting Goods, Amazon, *insert almost any retailer here*, began selling out of workout equipment.
Weight Vests? Gone.
Hell, even Monster Bands which I love to use at home, skyrocketed in price.
Supply and demand.
The market changed, these at home workout products became more desirable, prices adjusted accordingly.
Now that lots of avid fitness goers had remedied their equipment shortage, they now needed guidance to using that equipment.
Trainers that lost their jobs were forced to pivot online.
Zooming with clients to coach them in real time.
Or recording workouts and uploading them or live streaming.
And, I'm sure that some kept on business as usual in a private setting at their own risk.
But, the point I'm trying to make is, COVID-19 forced a mass exodus of the fitness industry to go online.
And in doing so, forced us into a new reality.
We, of course, don't know when this all will end.
When we first went into shutdown, I had just launched the Podcast that following week, and episode 1 had been pre recorded for awhile at that point, so it was very much so unrelated to the times at hand.
So I felt the need to record a Coronavirus episode, but I didn't want to wait until the following week, because there was a thought in my mind that it would be old news by then.
Here we are in week 5. Who'd a thunk it?
We don't know when things will go back to normal.
Like, normal, normal.
Even when things begin to open back up, odds are it will happen very slowly.
There might still be restrictions in place that possibly limit the amount of people in a given space.
We just haven't reached that point yet to see how that will possibly look.
What we once perceived as normal, could be several weeks, if not months away, so if you're reading this article as a fitness coach, or consumer, it's possible that you might have to cope and adapt to a world of fitness that lives online.
The robots have officially taken over.
At Home Workout Tips
Several weeks ago, the first article I wrote here was called "The World is coming to an end, here's how to stay fit at home". And if you haven't read it, you can do so here.
That article was a knee jerk reaction to the fact that people were going to be working out at home for the time being. But it was very much so written from the perspective that this was all going to be very temporary.
A lot of that sentiment remains the same.
But now that we're a month+ into this social distancing stint, I've had some time to ponder it, and come up with some tips for the long term and for those who want to continue to take their fitness relatively serious.
Consider this a sequel to the first article. But like a Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 kind of sequel and not like a Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, and Jaws: The Revenge type of sequel. (I did not know until 5 minutes ago there were sequels to Jaws. Let alone three of them.
Tips 1-3 can be found on Episode 6 of the Made To Excel Fitness Podcast if you would like to listen to them. Tips 4-6 are exclusive to this article.
The biggest change you've probably experienced working out at home rather than the gym, is the environment.
In a gym you're surrounded by weights, workout equipment, loud music, sweaty people, etc. etc.
Within the four walls of a gym, it's impossible to escape fitness.
It's a place conducive to working out. (Duh, that's why they exist).
Even when motivation is low, sometimes all it takes is dragging yourself there, but once you get into the gym, those problems begin to remedy themselves.
Being at home is a different story.
Odds are, you don't have room, let alone a space in general, that you can dedicate to fitness.
You might be working out in your garage, bedroom, basement, living room, backyard, wherever you've got space.
And that's perfect! By whatever means, you're getting it done.
But, as opposed to the gym, it's very easy to bail on a workout when you're at home.
Your couch is nearby, your TV is calling your name, your family is watching a movie, your significant other is whipping up a scrumptious meal nearby.
If your mind is not fully in it, your workout will suffer, and often be cut short.
In a gym, you've already dedicated time, and gas to drive there, so if you're not feeling it, you might as well still stick it out and get it over with, or the drive was pointless.
At home you probably have no qualms about ditching your workout because you have an easy out.
Here's where Gym 2.0 steps in.
With whatever space you have, try and recreate your favorite gym environment as much as possible.
Bring all your equipment over, put on your "get shit done music", lay tape on the ground if you have to as a perimeter, and call that gym 2.0. Your space where no outside distractions are welcome, and you work your ass off for the entirety of your workout.
2. Recreate Your Program
If you had a sick workout program you were following prior to social distancing, doesn't mean you can't continue to o the same at home.
Of course equipment may be limited, but mimic your program as much as possible.
For barbell movements, use dumbbells.
For machine movements use dumbbells in conjunction with bands.
If you scroll through Instagram or Facebook in any sort of fitness capacity, odds are you've seen some really clever ways to recreate certain machines/workouts at home it’s equipment you have.
Even if you have no equipment at all, try to mimic it as much as possible only using Bodyweight movements.
Youtube is your friend.
The closer you can get to your original programming the more normalcy you’ll feel, and the more inclined you’ll be to get a really good workout.
And if you just read all of that and you don’t have a program of your own, contact somebody to make a program for you (could be me! 😄) and having a routine will allow you to push through and persevere opposed to just going into random workouts every day.
3. Avoid Gimmicky Workouts
Social Media can be an amazing platform for workout inspiration and tips to make your life healthier.
Above I even talked about all the clever ways I’ve seen that people were working out at home.
But, the dark side of this coin is the gimmicky workouts.
The dark side is cool in Star Wars, Darth Vader and Darth Maul are the coolest characters in all the galaxy, but this is not a dark side you want to be apart of.
If you’re serious about your strength and muscle, doing a workout with a can of baked beans is NOT going to help your progress.
Unless that can of baked beans is heavy to you, I better not see you working out with it.
Using full backpacks, and water gallons, and pets as additional resistance is a fun and clever way to add resistance to a workout.
Odds are these things are enough to make a workout difficult enough to be worthwhile doing.
A can of baked beans? Not so much.
Combination workouts where you do a deadlift, with a row, with an overhead press look cool, and could potentially get you lots of likes on the ‘gram, but they‘re not very practical lots of times.
Odds are you can deadlift more than you overhead press, so either the weight is going to be too light for the deadlift, or too heavy for the overhead press. There’s no real way to properly load both movements, unless you do them completely separately.
If you’re really bored and your workout routine has become monotonous to the point that you just want a break, these gimmicky workouts can be a fun way to take your mind off of things and move, but don’t allow it to become the majority of your workouts.
I love podcasts. I used to listen to them in the car on the way to work.
But now I don’t have a job to drive to anymore, so my podcast consumption has gone down the drain.
Now, the easiest time to listen to podcasts is while I’m working out.
But listening to people talk about a serial killer from the 1980’s or about sports, or an interview show, will only go so far to pump me up for my next set of incline dumbbell chest press.
Music, is a great motivator.
Could be rock, could be country, hip hop, Swedish death metal, could be baby shark on repeat.
Whatever music you’re into, will allow you to push harder and harder into a workout rather than exercising in silence.
Studies have shown that songs that hit a certain BPM are optimal for some workouts, but forget all that Jazz (they call me the pun master in some circles) whatever works for you, works for you.
If you’re trying to run more often in this quarantine, try and run to the beat of several different songs that you like.
You might find that one song really fits your stride well and you’re suddenly running farther and faster than you were previously. Furthermore, busting out a quick boogie in between sets can help you burn a few extra calories everyday.
In the first article I talked about equipment rather in depth.
5 weeks later I can tell you that the most important thing is having a proper load.
Whether it be dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, whatever it is that you have and utilize on a day to day basis, as long as you can add the proper amount of weight to a exercise, you’re good to go.
If you have a weight, and you’re able to do 30+ squats without a problem, you need more weight.
Stores are restocking equipment as the market starts to normalize.
But that’s not to say that you should even go out to get these things if it jeopardizes your ability to responsibly practice social distancing, or if it is something you can’t afford.
If you find something that’s well in your budget, and you can do something like curbside pickup where you can continue to maintain your distance, then by all means, it’s going to make your workout better.
But if that’s not the case for you, just find a way to better load your exercise.
If your weights are too light, throw on a backpack filled with clothes, and hopefully that will make your workouts the proper amount of difficulty.
Whatever the case may be, find a way to load your exercises where you can do anywhere from 5-20 reps with a noticeable amount of difficulty, in a safe and secure manner.
If your only way to load is putting cinder blocks in baskets, and hanging those baskets on a makeshift barbell that’s really just your flimsy house broom, you’re really putting yourself in a position to injure yourself.
If you recorded it, you might go viral, but it’s not worth getting hurt, and I’d rather you just did Bodyweight squats at that point.
Last, but not least, overload.
I‘ve talked about progressive overload ad nauseam over the past few weeks in articles, podcasts, and Instagram posts.
And I’m going to continue to do so, since it’s the single most important thing you can do in training.
If you’re working out, and you’re doing the same exact program, with the same exact weights, with the same exact number of reps and sets, you’re GOING to plateau.
No if’s and’s or but‘s about it.
Your body adapts quickly, and the workout you do all the time will become your new baseline level of fitness.
When this happens, you’ll cease to make progress with that exact program.
So...you’ve got to adjust the weights, or the reps, or the rest time, or the exercise itself to continue to make progress.
This, is progressive overload.
So if you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, it’s time to switch it up, and you’ll find that you’ll break through those plateaus much easier than ever before.
The crazy reality of the year 2020, is the fact that our reality has changed.
Fitness has very much so converted to an online marketplace for trainers and clients alike.
Even when gyms start to open back up, and trainers are able to work with clients in person again, the online component will still be very relevant, present, and in the back of people’s minds.
So the quicker we are to embrace, the more beneficial it becomes to us all.
As long as we don’t let it get all iRobot on us.