This morning I woke up, cracked open a Starbucks double espresso shot can from my quarantine stockpile and looked in my closet for a work from home outfit. I was quickly reminded by a lineup of freshly washed tanks that I hadn't been to the gym in over a week, and that I wouldn't be going again for quite a while.
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As for many others around the world, the gym has become a mental and physical refuge for me over the past few years. I've lost 100 lbs, surpassed strength goals and made friends in group fitness classes. Unfortunately, the practice of social distancing, now considered the only ethical action under the threat of COVID-19, is directly at odds with the concept of gym membership and all the physical and mental health benefits it provides. For the greater good, we must all just stay home.
If your gym hasn't already shuttered, you must stop going. Public spaces are petri dishes for coronavirus, and cases of COVID-19 have been reported in popular gyms across the country. Social media political commentator and Mike Bloomberg campaign press staffer Keith Edwards shared a screenshot of an email he received from Equinox, informing him that he had worked out at their Flatiron location on the same day as a member who had been infected with COVID-19 attended a personal training session.
While Edwards attributes the almost-certain spread of the virus to Equinox's refusal to close locations nationwide — a Bethesda club experienced a similar affliction earlier this week — it's also a testament to the public's resistance to abide by growing social distancing norms. As a result of such reluctance, strict guidelines are now in place, both in New York City and across the country, limiting public gatherings, shuttering restaurants and bars, and closing event venues.
Gym closures were announced to go into effect later this evening in New York City and several other regions in the tri-state area. Mayor Bill De Blasio informed a reporter after leaving a YMCA this morning that there would be a press conference soon concerning gyms specifically. It sucks, but don't mourn the loss of your gym time — instead, why not revisit the core values of health and fitness that propel our workouts in the first place?
It's times like these that we must remind ourselves that the gym is simply one vehicle for wellness; it's not wellness itself. Sure, the weight room is a more efficient vehicle to achieve muscle growth than a jog, but staying home from the gym right now ensures a myriad of other health and wellness goals, for ourselves and others. It's not all about the gainz right now.
As de Blasio himself said, we must adopt a "wartime dynamic" to fight coronavirus, and soldiers still have to get buff, right? Sure, just not at the gym.
Various home workout routines exist for free on YouTube, for purchase in fitness influencers' Instagram bios, and within your body itself. Jog, run, blast music to drown out the world and do some push-ups. Dust off that P-90X DVD you got for Christmas a decade ago and reacquaint yourself with Tony Horton's multi-level marketing genius. Or just follow along with Dua Lipa's "Physical" workout video. The gym is gone for now, and we have to become OK with that.
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