Today I want to talk about getting back into group fitness post-pandemic. I know that we cannot say that the pandemic is over but many restrictions have been lifted for vaccinated individuals per the CDC’s guidance earlier in May. Here in North Carolina, our governor lifted our indoor mask mandate which means that vaccinated people can now go maskless in gyms and fitness studios. Over the last couple of weeks, I have encountered so many people in class who are there for the first time in over a year now that they are vaccinated and the mask mandate is lifted. There is so much to navigate when it comes to group fitness on the other side of the shutdown and restrictions.
First, I want to acknowledge that working out in a mask is no joke. I can’t believe that I taught in one for the majority of an entire year. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was terrible and I’m glad it’s over. Huge props to you guys for navigating fitness during this challenging time with Zoom workouts, home workouts and masked workouts. It was A LOT. And not easy to stay consistent or motivated.
It’s understandable that you might be feeling and experiencing a broad range of emotions right now when it comes to group fitness and I want to share some tips and thoughts to support you.
MEET YOURSELF WHERE YOU ARE, AND DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF
Whether you haven’t set foot in a group fitness studio or gym in a year or you feel like you’ve lost fitness through masked workouts, it’s all good, it’s all understandable and there is nothing to feel worried, stressed or ashamed about.
I can promise you that there is nothing that you are feeling that someone else isn’t. All of us are trying to figure out what the new normal is and what life (and fitness) looks like on the other side of a rather traumatizing year.
You are perfect exactly where you are today. Don’t compare where you are today to where you were pre-pandemic. Please show up for class and for yourself. Open arms are waiting.
KEEP WEARING YOUR MASK IF THAT FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU
Once the state of North Carolina lifted our mask mandate, the studio owners that I work for gave us the green light to go maskless in class if we were vaccinated. Some of us did a happy dance and others shared that they felt more comfortable continuing to wear a mask, even if vaccinated.
Maybe you feel okay without a mask but still want some distance. I recommend taking classes at off-peak times where you have the freedom to spread out more. If you don’t know when those are, call the studio. They can give you guidance.
TAKE IT SLOW AND GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
While I have been teaching, filming classes and working out through the pandemic, I haven’t been taking classes as a participant…mostly because of masks. I took my first full hour-long hot yoga class in-person last Sunday morning from a friend of mine and HOLY CRAP…it humbled me. I was wiped out afterwards and so sore the next day. There is just something different about being in the studio and taking in-person classes from a teacher that takes it to the next level.
Take breaks when you need to. Be okay with using lighter weights in a strength class, taking the lower option in a cardio class or skipping chaturangas in a yoga class. You will build your strength, endurance and flexibility back up with time. Don’t jeopardize injuring yourself in the process.
LEAN INTO COMMUNITY
I wholeheartedly believe that the biggest impact that COVID had on group fitness was the loss of community. As someone who already tends to be introverted and opts to stay at home over being out and social regularly, this was an easy downward spiral for me.
Recently, I’ve come to realize how much I miss the connection and community that I had pre-COVID and I’m taking actionable steps to remedy that. I am adding more classes to my teaching schedule and have goals to get back into a groove of taking classes as well and I’m working on being present at the studios where I work.
We can build this community back but it will take time, effort and vulnerability. There’s one thing that I know for sure…the work will be worth it. There are no friends like my yogi friends. <3
SUPPORT LOCAL STUDIOS AND TEACHERS
Like many small businesses, yoga studios and gyms have really struggled through the pandemic…and so have their employees. Most of us had classes and/or pay cut and are working hard to rebuild our teaching schedules and class attendance. If you love group fitness, come back! We miss you and desperately want to rebuild what we had pre-COVID.
Talk to me about how you feel about getting back to group fitness. Are you taking classes or going to the gym? Are you excited or apprehensive? What’s your biggest worry/concern?