Getting peoples’ bodies beach-worthy is not the goal of personal fitness trainer Zack Chestnut, of Anytime Fitness at Bloomington’s College Mall. Instead, he designs his routines for this reason: “to help people get their bodies to be able to take a hit and not only survive but thrive.”
He worries that hair salons and big box stores were allowed to reopen before gyms, potentially sending a peculiar health message.
“There were 50 people in Walmart,” he said, “but (getting and staying fit) are the only defenses we’ve got right now (during COVID-19). “We gave up our only line of defense.”
During the isolation, Chestnut has been offering one-on-one, socially spaced training sessions outdoors. He offers to wear a mask, should the client desire, and sanitizes the equipment, which he hauls to the park in his SUV. The morning of May 12, a Kentucky coffeetree (sic) made a sturdy support for his TRX (suspension-training) bands. He had done the research: “I climbed these trees to make sure they were healthy and strong enough,” he said. “I think (park goers) might have thought I was crazy.”
Chestnut demonstrated, among other moves, Russian twists and Romanian deadlifts. Next, his client tried them on her own, with Chestnut monitoring, and offering corrections.
“Staying fit is our only (COVID-19) ‘vaccination’ at this point,” he said. “We have to keep asking ourselves ‘what kind of outcome will I experience if I get it?’ “
On the periphery of the College Mall, a few steps down the sidewalk from Anytime Fitness, is Orangetheory Fitness Bloomington. In this gym all members wear heart rate monitors and focus on five zones of heart rate. “We’re the Starbucks of the workout industry,” said owner Lyle Feigenbaum in a phone interview.
“We’ve been heavily involved since day one,” he said. From the beginning of the novel coronavirus event, the gym has offered live online workouts, available free, to anyone.
“Go to our Facebook page and click on ‘members only,’ even if you’re not a member,” he said.
Feigenbaum works out every day, mostly online; when the gym reopens — soon, he hopes — he will be continuing his efforts to make sure clients are safe.
“We’ve worked very hard to protect our members,” he said. It’s a huge expense at our end.”
Feigenbaum’s wife and son also work at Orangetheory, so perhaps his health and safety incentives are even higher than normal. Workouts will be geared toward physical distancing and sanitizing — as they were even before COVID-19.
“We’re so structured,” he said. “You’re told where to be, and you’re not walking around (the gym) on your own.” Orangetheory has always disinfected he said, but now members will be encouraged to carry fresh sanitizing wipes as they work out. There will also be temperature and wellness checks, and the showers will be disabled. All staff will wear masks.
Feigenbaum, whose father is a physician, consulted with an infectious diseases physician, to further his understanding of contagion management.
Kris Heeter owns the Bloomington franchise of Jazzercise. Since COVID-19, she’s been offering classes through Zoom and Facebook Live, using her back porch, basement and sometimes, the studio, just off West Third Street. Members are welcome to join the online classes and enjoy typing in comments on their cellphones or laptop computers as they dance.
When Heeter reopens the studio, she will phase in slowly.
“Our membership has stayed about the same (since COVOD-19). We lost one member and gained one member,” she said over the phone.
She plans to continue teaching by streaming — which she started doing April 1 —as well as teaching in person in the studio. Streaming during the isolation has provided her members with the experience of being together in class.
One of Jazzercise’ draws is its music, for which franchise owners pay hefty royalties.
“We play Top 40, country, hiphop and others,” she said. “And we teach 150 new dance routines per year.” An exercise physiologist reviews all choreography.
Jazzercise’ founder, Judi Sheppard Missett, still dances and teaches — from her yard. Her company keeps women fit, its motto being “It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s social. We don’t judge.”
“She’s the hippest grandmother you’ll ever see,” Heeter said.
Once the studio reopens, Heeter said classes will be smaller; she has already measured the space to provide plenty of room per dancer. For times of classes, people may go to jazzercise.com and type in “Bloomington.”
Pure Barre at the College Mall has a new owner, Jamie Parsons. She shut down the gym March 18 and froze her clients’ accounts so they wouldn’t be charged. Then, for paid members she began offering a variety of free live-streamed classes through Zoom. Nonmembers can choose to pay $25 per week “and take as many classes as they want,” she said on the phone.
“We’re all stuck (during the isolation),” she said. “And I’m proud that Pure Barre can help.”
A silver lining might exist in online gym classes. “Maybe some people aren’t able to afford (in-person classes) — or confident enough to enter a gym,” she said. “Often, it’s about taking that first step.”
Parsons can identify. “I didn’t want to step into a group class once,” she said. “I had gained 65 pounds during my pregnancy.” Her children are now 9 and 10, and Parsons is back to her desired weight. She ascribes her ability to connect with students to her past career at the YMCA, where she taught preschool. She became a personal trainer for others after having become interested in reaching and maintaining her own fitness.
As do other gyms, Pure Barre hopes to reopen soon, and Parsons is ready. In-person classes will consist of nine members only, and any surfaces that have been touched will be sanitized between classes.
“That means a minimum of one hour of cleaning between workout sessions,” she said. In addition, she will use only the gym equipment that can be cleaned efficiently.
Masks will be encouraged although not enforced, and online sessions will still be available.