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Simple Ways to Keep Working Out Even When Gyms Are Closed

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When I first got sober, I threw my extra time and energy into working out, and the passion I have for fitness and CrossFit has continued to grow since. When I’m having bad days or weeks, my gym and its community are always constant. 

For many who are sober, this is the case. Working out is a healthy form of stress release. For us, having a gym and an accompanying community is a pillar of life in recovery. 

So, though understandable, the announcement that gyms in many states would be closing due to COVID-19 still came as a blow. Many, including myself, are facing extra anxiety at this time and do not have our typical places to turn to when it comes to releasing that anxiety and stress. 

But gyms being closed doesn’t mean that working out can’t still be a priority. In this time of closures, there are various alternatives. It can even be fun to try a few new things out when it comes to getting your exercise in. Here are a few methods I’ve found helpful for still working out even when my gym is closed. 

  1. Do some good old running/walking.

    When I started CrossFit, I stopped running as often. I got my cardio in other ways and it just didn’t seem necessary. But in the past month or so, I’ve run more than I have in years. The beauty of running is that you really don’t need anything apart from shoes and maybe some tunes. It’s been fun to try and push myself to get faster miles and to explore the areas around home on foot. There are some great apps for tracking your distance, like Map My Run and Run Keeper. If you don’t have the equipment to do more in-depth workouts, or you feel intimidated by them, take 30 minutes, and just walk. Simply moving can do wonders for your mental state. 

  2. Hop into some virtual classes.

    Just because gyms are closed doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve stopped providing their members with services. Many gyms are offering at-home programming to their members, or are holding virtual classes with an instructor and other members so the community feel isn’t lost. Even if your own gym isn’t offering this, there are many others that are and that would welcome you. For example, Blink Fitness offers a virtual class via Facebook Live every morning. Planet Fitness is hosting daily “Work-Ins.” A quick Google search can turn up many others. Check with small, local gyms in your area, too. 

  3. Take advantage of video workouts.

    Though it’s not quite the same as working out with other people at your gym, there are many resources out there with video workouts. Some have always been free, while others have been paid or member-only. But now, a number of those are offering their content for free. For example, the YMCA is offering free access to video workouts to members and non-members. Amazon Prime has a number of fitness videos in their library. YouTube is a great resource as well. If you aren’t sure where to look, try Googling the type of workout you’d like to do along with the word “free.”

  4. Invest in some at-home workout equipment.

    Before you panic, this doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t need barbells and benches and crazy machines in order to get a good workout. Certain equipment is pretty versatile and inexpensive. A jump rope, yoga mat, and dumbbells/kettlebells can go a long way and can be used for various movements, such as squats, lunges and overhead presses. If you don’t feel like dropping the cash on any equipment, you can get creative and look for everyday household items, such as milk jugs (fill them with sand for heavier options), bags of pet food (similar to a sandbag carry), towels in place of bands, etc. Once you start shifting your mindset, you’ll see new ways to use the items you already have.  

  5. Try something new.

    Since many in the fitness industry are using this time to offer their programming for free for a limited time, or are extending their trial periods, it’s the perfect time to try something new without losing money. The app Down Dog is offering their yoga content for free, as is CorePower Yoga. Some people may be used to yoga, but for me it was a new experience. While I felt out of my element, there was no one to see me struggling and it was a good way of pushing my comfort zone. I discovered that I actually enjoy it, to an extent, and I wasn’t out anything in the process! 

Of course, we’re all eagerly awaiting the time that we can get back to our normal workout routines. But it’s important to recognize that during this time, we are still capable of moving and keeping ourselves healthy, both emotionally and physically. It may be tougher than normal to feel motivated or excited about working out, but that’s okay. All that matters is that we make the effort and make the best of this situation at the current time. 


Beth Leipholtz spent several years blogging about the realities of getting sober young on Life to be Continued. Since the birth of her son, Coop, she has pivoted to focus on her work as an inclusion and accessibility advocate who believes in creating a more accepting world for our children. She shares her parenting journey on her website Beth & Coop, as well as on TikTokYouTube, Facebook and Instagram, where she has built a community of more than 1 million people around disability inclusion. She lives with her family in Minnesota.  In addition to spending time with her family, Beth enjoys Minnesota summers, photography, iced Americanos, CrossFit, and a good old-fashioned book.

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