COVID is disrupting or outright eliminating many of my usual exercising activities, which makes the coming of winter and reduction in outside activity even more ominous.
I haven’t been to my fencing club in several months. Classes and private lessons are still being offered, but with the requirement to wear a cloth mask under our regular metal face coverings. I’ve heard of studies that have demonstrated masks don’t significantly inhibit oxygen intake while exercising, but I’ve never felt comfortable wearing a second mask while fencing. I feel like I’m suffocating… I believe and respect those who say it doesn’t bother them, but the experience is completely unsettling to me. People need to wear masks, even when fencing. I totally get it. And while it pains me to step away from the sport until the pandemic is under control, I don’t see an alternative.
My wife attends Pilates classes regularly, and at the start of 2019 got me interested in the activity. I enjoyed the strength and flexibility training, and attended a class with my wife one morning a week. After a two-month COVID shutdown in the spring, our Pilates studio reopened with smaller class sizes. Masks weren’t required by all instructors; we chose those who made them mandatory. I didn’t encounter the breathing problem I had with fencing, both because the physical effort wasn’t as great and there wasn’t this large metal shield over the mask. I looked forward to the Wednesday morning class… and then the Pilates studio closed, for good, at the beginning of November. Another small business casualty. There are other studios within driving distance, and while my wife has been making the trip, I haven’t wanted to start over again. Not yet, anyway.
There was still the community gym, also operating at reduced capacity and with stricter masking requirements. After a few weeks of experimenting with different times, I found late mornings to be the least crowded. According to the center’s web site, the building is still open. Yet with last week’s directive to stay at home whenever possible, it doesn’t seem right to be going there.
There are opportunities at home. For several years I’ve been using a recumbent stationary bike in the living room (“you have to put it where you live” — best sales advice I ever received), and have been using it more as outside options began disappearing. I also have a fencing workout area set up in the basement, which I’ll resume using once my enthusiasm for the sport returns. We also ordered a Pilates machine (they’re called reformers for some odd reason) last month that should finally arrive this week; demand for home exercise equipment has far exceeded supply. It’ll take up a good deal of space in the sunroom, but that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.
There’s been talk that many remote workers won’t want to return to the office once the pandemic restrictions are eliminated. I don’t expect the same will hold for exercising. There’s an energy I get when I’m surrounded by people focused on exerting their bodies, and I hope to feel that energy again sometime soon.