Getting in shape is a common New Year's resolution for many people, but doing so during inclement weather while also sheltering in place poses unique challenges in 2021.
Several Tri-Valley fitness centers and personal trainers shared their advice and tips with the Weekly, as well as what it's like taking -- and teaching -- an outdoor gym class during the wetter months.
After closing suddenly for in-person classes and training by public health order 11 months ago, along with other local gyms and fitness studios, Razi Hasni, founder and owner of Joya Yoga in Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin, said his studio "did pretty well, we pivoted pretty quick into online fitness" because a full virtual lifestyle channel of theirs was already in the works.
The COVID-19 pandemic expedited development of Joya Soul TV, which now offers live streaming and on-demand classes, in addition to nutrition analysis and wellness workshops, by paying a monthly subscription. However, a number of Tri-Valley trainers are also holding open-air fitness classes in local parks, as well as specially assembled tents.
Outdoor classes for yoga and Pilates pose some challenges -- "We've set the tent up with heating and lighting ... but it still has its drawbacks, it's still not the same as an indoor class," Hasni said -- but offer a much-needed sense of community by providing "the human connection, that's more important than anything else."
"We're seeing more meditation-minded individuals, focusing on the wellness aspect of their health," Hasni said. "The people that are coming are more interested in building strong, resilient immune systems. That's why they're coming, and they're vocal about it."
"Even during the rain, we held outdoor fitness classes, you'd be surprised," he added. "We had leaks in our tent but people came in. It helps them deal with the current situation."
Alicia Ambrosini, manager of Brick Fitness Center in Pleasanton, said, "Transitioning to outdoor classes has been successful for us. People still need fitness, they need it physically, emotionally, mentally ... that's been the glue that has held our membership together."
Since moving to outdoor classes last June, Ambrosini said, "Having a tent has been critical, given the weather, both the hot summer days and the rain and cold as well."
"I've been inspired by our membership; weather is not slowing them down," she added.
While Brick offers virtual courses and training that people can do in the comfort of their home, Ambrosini said in-person classes offer a chance to unplug.
"People are on their screens all day long and tired, they're craving that normalcy," Ambrosini said. "They're also having more success coming in person versus having to show up on a computer screen."
"We hear it countless times -- it's an outlet for them to get away from a screen, get away from another Zoom call," she added.
Some people are reluctant to attend outdoor classes, but both Hasni and Ambrosini said it's very possible to create a gym at home with smaller mobile pieces of equipment such as kettlebells, barbells, jump ropes and resistance bands.
Even food cans can be used to substitute for kettlebells, "or anything else that's similar to the weights you're using," according to Hasni.
Hasni also suggested creating "a space dedicated to spending time with yourself inside your home that will be conducive with you following through with a workout." If you don't have an extra room, separating a workout space from your regular living space with a wall divider or curtain will also work.
"Enough space to put a yoga mat down without the hindrance of hitting a wall," Hasni said.
Ambrosini said her team is "encouraging everyone to be as healthy as they can in these trying times," and reminded people to "hang in there and try and do the best you can. Get back to that routine."
Even if it's just 15 or 20 minutes a day, Hasni said "just dedicate the time. Don't take your fitness for granted, this is the time to spend focusing on your wellness. Take your health by the bullhorns and take charge of it."