With the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases signaling more businesses including internet shops, tutorial centers, and gyms to reopen as we "modify" our lockdown measures yet again, here we are at ABS-CBN Lifestyle telling you to calm down. While the fitness industry, in particular, has been one of the most affected because of the coronavirus threat, we'd like to stand by the fact that gyms are still very much a Petri dish for "drug-resistant bacteria, flu virus, and other pathogens"—as the New York Times reported.
Health and fitness, ironically, still is paramount. And so in a period of growing cases at 85,486 now overtaking that of mainland China (where the virus is believed to have originated), the best thing we'd still advise is to work out at home.
"I know we go to the gym to exercise for immunity and boost our system. But there's still a high risk of getting the virus with the high traffic area at the gym, regardless of it being sanitized or not. There’s still a chance to contact the virus," says fitness trainer Kit Guerra.
"You can stay active at home with or without any equipment. It's very convenient and you also limit the risk of infection," he adds.
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Yet, for some, working out at home is less encouraging compared to when exercising at the gym. Reasons: Lack of accountability and lack of equipment. Addressing these might just be an additional cause of anxiety and stress for some with no means nor motivation to set up their own home gym—but only if they allow it.
Regarding accountability, Guerra, who trains online via the app Flight from his San Francisco California home office, says it can be a "big issue." He stresses, “I have clients trying to work out from home. The hardest thing for them is they’re next to their couch, food, TV, or other distractions. It’s very easy for them to find an excuse not to exercise. You’re a few steps from several different excuses because of the atmosphere.”
But accountability can be a good thing if used as an anchor, Bacolod-based online fitness trainer Jaco Benin counters. He bases it on experience, "(My clients) like the accountability, when I follow up on them every weekend. I’d ask them to send me a post-workout photo every time they finished a workout. That helps them a lot, it makes them consistent.”
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As for the issue on equipment, it truly can get pretty expensive. The trick around it? Guerra and Benin both agree: Baby steps! Start with the most versatile ones, the fitness trainers—who themselves have makeshift gyms at home—suggest.
Guerra, who's a powerlifter, bought himself a squat rack with a barbell and several weights during the early months of the lockdown. He set it up at his garage.
"Fitness is not limited to buying equipment. You gotta be creative with the weights," he says, before suggesting the following for beginners, "Adjustable dumbbells or kettle bells, exercise or resistance bands, suitcases or backpacks for your weights, and a jump rope for your cardio—or just run!"
Benin, for his part, already has a "pretty complete" home gym even before the pandemic. He started investing on equipment when he was still Manila-based, only to maximize all of it come the lockdown.
He narrates, "My goal is for me to work out at home when I can be with family. Dahil ngayon sa COVID, bilang naging blessing na may (home) gym ako." He then suggests purchasing a mat and light dummbells for those wanting to gradually build a home gym. "You can also try a pull-up bar—although it be intimidating."
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Those left unconvinced from trainers about setting up a home can also look to radio DJ and host RJ Atlas. The fitness enthusiast is one proud home workout believer, having gathered minimal but multifunctional equipment like a pull-up bar and gymnastic rings at home.
Those clueless and daunted may just have to consult with a trainer, or, cheaper, the internet to walk themselves through, Atlas advises. He himself keeps home workout how-to's on his YouTube.
"Everything’s on the internet—readily available. And it’s easy to learn," Atlas says. "Apply what you learn. Tatamarin ka rin eventually. For motivation, invest in your equipment. Buy another one after the other. Try to make it fun by challenging yourself. When you have some equipment at home, you already have something to lose—might as well get something from it!"
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Photos courtesy of Kit Guerra, Jaco Benin, and RJ Atlas