CORONAVIRUS

Gyms are closed in Iowa, but fitness quest continues

Most fitness clubs are offering virtual options for workouts

Adam Rees, owner and head coach at Grit Gym in Iowa City, said pushups are a good resistance exercise you can do at home
Adam Rees, owner and head coach at Grit Gym in Iowa City, said pushups are a good resistance exercise you can do at home without weights or equipment. (Grit Gym)

Now what? With Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announcing Tuesday all fitness centers — as well as restaurants, bars, theaters and casinos — will close for at least two weeks, where will people get their release from the daily grind?

Where will they get their exercise?

Most facilities contacted Tuesday will offer virtual coaching, classes and fitness tips on their websites, on their Facebook pages or via email. Gymnastics facilities and dance studios are doing the same.

“We are in this together, and we’ve got your back,” Nikki Rowland, a manager at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping, wrote in an email. “Our FXB Community is more than just a physical building. That’s why we will be providing you with daily, virtual workouts in lieu of in-person classes.”

Other workout facilities — from the YMCA to Grit Gym in Iowa City and Planet Fitness in Cedar Rapids — had similar messages. All want to see their members stay active — for physical and mental health, especially in this time of stress surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

“Regular exercise is one component of a healthy lifestyle that can help reduce stress and prevent illness,” the YMCA notes on its website that also includes video workout options.

Adam Rees, owner and head coach at Grit Gym, said this also is a perfect opportunity to take a bit of break.

“Your body doesn’t degenerate very fast,” he said, adding that losing fitness is “not going to happen overnight.”

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He said this is a good time to catch up on some rest, practice relaxation techniques or do yoga at home. All, he said, also are great ways to keep your spirits — and mood — high.

But, he acknowledged, so is getting in a good workout.

“I think it’s important to keep your body moving so you don’t feel overwhelmed,” Rowland said.

Ara Ispentchian, 47, of Cedar Rapids is a runner and a gym rat. Exercise, he said, is a passion.

“I’m quite active,” he said, adding he once weighed around 300 pounds after his mother died before realizing something had to change. “It makes me happier and makes everybody around me happier.”

Rees said “there are plenty of things you can do” at home with minimal equipment, things that can maintain your current fitness level — and maybe even improve it.

“If you do minimal activity for one week, you’ll actually do better when you come back.” he said.

A good balance between cardio and strength training is important, Rees and Rowland said.

“Strength, power and speed,” Rees said.

Both mentioned a variety of resistance exercises you can do inside without weights or weight machines — pushups, situps, squats and lunges are good “body weight” activities. For cardio, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, jump squats and “fire feet” are good options. Burpees are good for cardio and strength.

“People need to be creative,” Ispentchian said.

There also is no ban on getting outside.

Rees recommends two “10-minute walks a day.”

“Walking, jogging, biking,” Rowland said. “Just being outside with your kids ... being outside is a big deal, especially if the sun is shining.”

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Ispentchian said he will continue to run outside, although it may not be the “social event” it has been in the past.

With virtual options, most centers did not mention refunds on memberships. But Planet Fitness emailed members, noting “when we reopen we will provide a credit for closed days previously paid for, and we will not be charging future monthly dues until we reopen.”

Comments: (319) 3368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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