The coronavirus has impacted every aspect of our society, and the fitness industry is no exception. Gyms and fitness studios across the world — have had to close their doors to customers and take steps to navigate the pandemic. Some gyms didn’t survive and there was at least one CrossFit Box in the Geneva area that has filed for bankruptcy and closed their doors. In essence, the traditional classes and in-person model of fitness delivery has suffered an unprecedented disruption.

Some gyms have reacted creatively and came up with some exciting business models such as online delivery of classes and lots of regular gym-goers have resorted to buying at least some equipment to be able to workout at home.  “Necessity has yet again become the mother of invention”.

With B3F we have initially issued a 12 week bodyweight workout programme to keep your fitness levels more or less up to a certain level, but while these workouts certainly have their merit, they don’t provoke the same dose-response / adaptation as workouts with external loads (weights) do.

As our world regains some semblance of normalcy, let’s look at some lessons to draw if you wish to keep your health and fitness vibrant during a health crisis now and/or in the future:

Becoming independent.

Due to the Covid pandemic the traditional brick-and-mortar gyms had to close (albeit temporarily) their doors. As a result people rushed to the online fitness equipment stores to buy their own set of Dumbbells or Kettlebells and quickly the supply of fitness products ran out. While the online shops slowly but surely start re-stocking their equipment, it is worth investing in some equipment and slowly start building your home-gym yourself so that you can become independent. Another option is having a subscription to a fitness app.

In this article I’d like to elaborate a little on those 2 aspects of becoming fitness-independent. Let’s start with the fitness app.

  1. Getting a fitness App

If you really don’t want to invest in any equipment then there are numerous fitness apps out there that you can opt for. But as with anything they come with pro’s and con’s.

Advantages

  1. Flexible – If you are independent, self-motivated and need flexibility to your workout times or just don’t have a lot of time, you can try an app. Open the app and get a quick 10-minute workout. Easy… 
  2. Convenient / Easy: You don’t have to go to the gym but you can do a workout in the comfort and privacy of your home.
  3. Affordable – Most of these apps are affordable and you can try them out with a free trial (some want a credit card number on file) then if you like, purchase access to the workouts.

Disadvantages

  1. Often Impersonal – Obviously, one reason fitness apps are designed is to take place of a personal trainer or coach. And, that is just what you get, a workout of a phone/computer screen. No feedback, interaction, accountability, encouragement or support.
  2. Sometimes hard to follow – Especially for those that don’t issue any instruction videos.
  3. Possibly ineffective –They may not target your specific fitness/health goals and they could result in you stagnating or hitting a plateau and no longer progressing. Very often these apps only have so much content on them that is used over and over again without ever changing intensity or duration or even emphasizing on the intent of a workout. But if it will really make you better is still an open debate. Personally, I think they can be good for absolute beginners provided that they offer beginner programmes. If you are and intermediate/advanced athlete or have more experience, then I have my doubts. Fitness Apps are never personalized to the extent that they will target your specific (fitness / wellbeing) goals or needs.
  4. Potentially Dangerous – You can’t really know if you are doing the exercises correctly and could cause injury if you are exercising incorrectly. There is also a risk of training with bad body mechanics. The app also doesn’t take into consideration if you have had a bad knee, past surgeries, weak lower back which could irritate or make them worse.
  5. Fast results are not long lasting results: Last but not least: have a look at what they offer in terms of duration. Driven by the impatience of the general public (who wants results immediate or fast) and the marketing of competing fitness programmes, fitness apps are no stranger to promising miraculous results in 6 – 12 weeks. But what they forget to mention is that these short term programmes, often do not provide long term results and often leave you with body that is beaten up.

Bottom line, just be smart and know your capabilities and limitations. Don’t hesitate to ask assistance of a coach or trainer. Most are happy to help you along your path of getting and staying fit for life! 

Start building your Home gym

I am referring to one of my Go Fit During COVID emails,  should you feel attracted to the convenience and flexibility of at-home fitness. It is an initial investment, but trust me, it does pay off over time.

Skipping rope

A skipping rope is an easy way to add some cardio work when you don’t have the opportunity to run. It doesn’t cost much and you can basically take it with you wherever you go, which makes it an excellent travel companion.

A set of (changeable) dumbbells

Having free weights is a no-brainer when it comes to strength training. Not everyone has the room or money to put an entire cable system or barbell rack in their home gym, thus a set of dumbbells with changeable weight plates are an excellent alternative and allow for a multitude of exercises.

A (heavy) kettlebell (or 2)


Kettlebells are great. They don’t take up a lot of space, and still allow you to do a lot of things. You can use them for swings, carry’s, overhead and unilateral work.

A suspension trainer (type TRX)

A suspension trainer system is the perfect addition to any home gym. It uses gravity as your resistance, so you can get an amazing full-body workout and make it as easy or as hard as you want. It’s easy to set up — all you need is a door for the anchor. Therefor it’s also an easy system to take with you while traveling. TRX comes in quite pricey, but there are cheaper alternatives.

An exercise or yoga carpet

At the base level (literally), an exercise or yoga mat makes floor exercises way more comfortable, whether you’re doing abs work on your back or push-ups on your knees. Look for a thicker mat for more cushioning, especially if you’re working out on a hard floor. You can also bring your mat to the backyard or beach to take your workout outdoors.

Covid has pushed the general public into at-home options for working out and being able to do at home workouts with a minimal equipment set-up has created a sense of independence enjoyed by many. I, for one, have definitely been grateful that over the years I have invested in some home gym equipment.

In the next newsletter, I’ll talk about how to on your own put together your workouts should you opt for having some equipment at home. Stay tuned.

Author: Peter Koopmans