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'Who's going to be left to push me?': Omaha-area trainers keep gymgoers motivated during coronavirus pandemic

'Who's going to be left to push me?': Omaha-area trainers keep gymgoers motivated during coronavirus pandemic

Most local gyms have temporarily closed their doors, leaving gymgoers concerned about gaining a “quarantine 15” or straying from non-scale-related victories in the gym. But owners and trainers are going to great lengths to keep clients on track during the coronavirus outbreak.

Most gyms are offering online workout videos via social media or other streaming platforms. Some have loaned out equipment, nearly emptying the fitness centers of weights, bikes and rowing machines.

During the weeklong closure at Edge Body Boot Camp, Missy Henry rented out equipment to gym regulars. She and other trainers hosted two live classes a day, and they posted home workouts online.

It was important to Henry that the gym still offered the same services to clients despite the closing of the physical space.

Gymgoers were grateful, Henry said, but they missed the in-person experience.

Henry and other trainers check in with their gymgoers daily via email, text and social media.

“Members going to a gym like ours, it’s not $10 a month. They’re not just signing up for a space to work out,” Henry said. “Yes, that’s important, but it’s the family, it’s the community, it’s the motivation. It’s the accountability. It’s keeping everybody together.”

The gym opened back up last week, but it will continue to offer online workouts for clients who can’t make the classes or who simply feel safer at home. Class sizes are limited at the gym, and gymgoers are spread out to follow social distancing regulations, Henry said.

“There’s always struggles,” Henry said. “It’s staying committed to why you’re doing it. You’re reminded of all that hard work you put in. That’s what helps you go to the gym every day anyway.”

Other gyms are following some of the same practices. Fit Farm, a local CrossFit gym, loaned equipment to members and started offering at-home workout videos. The location near 45th and Nicholas Streets is nearly empty, said Andrew Failla, one of the owners.

The owners hope to help members maintain mile markers of fitness, such as feeling strong and making it through a routine without much trouble.

“It’s really important for us to be able to preserve that for people,” Failla said. “We want to help them get through whatever period of time this is. We want to help them get through that with feeling like they are still moving forward with their fitness goals.”

The Barre Code West Omaha, part of a national franchise, also is focused on milestones. The organization celebrates milestones when members make it to 100, 300, 500, 750 and 1,000 classes, said owner Bonnie Eisenhart.

“We want to recognize how many times a member shows up,” she said. “We believe consistency is key.”

Now members can watch live workouts from Barre Code locations across the country. Members also have access to on-demand classes. Starting this week, Eisenhart said, members can sign up for the live classes so they count toward their milestone class counts.

In addition to posting at-home workouts, Kosama, a group fitness gym near 144th Street and West Maple Road, opened its subscription-based workout videos to members for free.

Trainers are keeping in touch with their regular clients, asking about their workouts and offering new exercise routines based on the equipment they have at home, said owner Jeff Strufing. Instead of the typical hourlong workouts, they’re offering shorter options for people to squeeze into their schedules.

“Try to set aside a time for you,” Strufing said. “Try to do what you can. Try not to walk to the refrigerator as your main source of exercise. Unfortunately, at home is probably not going to be as good, but if we can keep you 80% on track, that’s a blessing.”

Here’s how some local gymgoers are coping with the closures:

Kyle Erb

It took Kyle Erb three years to lose more than 100 pounds.

But now the self-proclaimed gym junkie is at risk of regressing. His La Vista gym, along with many others, temporarily shut its doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Erb spent a week tackling online workouts crafted by trainers at Edge Body Boot Camp. He also added in bike rides and other outdoor activities to stay active.

“I’ve learned in the past week what made me successful was being around other people and having the coaches to push me,” said Erb, 43. “It’s really easy to slide back.”

Erb overhauled his lifestyle when he started at the gym. He changed his diet and eventually worked up to hitting the gym six days a week. He had tried other gyms, workout plans and diets, but none stuck until he found the community at Edge Body Boot Camp.

The gym family holds him accountable. But it can be easy to let the habit slip when daily routines are changed. So far, he has managed to stick with it.

“I never want to go back to where I was,” Erb said. “It’s been quite the journey.”

Now he’s back in the gym for small-group classes.

Bob Minchow and

Eliza Burr

More and more Omahans are getting outside to keep active. They’re dusting off bicycles and playing catch in the backyard.

Bob Minchow and Eliza Burr are some of the folks taking advantage of the great outdoors. Minchow and Burr are regulars at the Downtown YMCA. With its closure, they have started taking regular walks to get out of the house.

Last week, the couple walked across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Minchow said time in the gym offers a way to relieve stress. Walking outside, they said, has provided a much- needed escape from the house.

“It does clear the mind,” Burr said.

Samantha Occhiuto

Samantha Occhiuto isn’t as worried about packing on extra pounds while the gym is closed. Instead, she’s focused on maintaining her same level of fitness.

Will she still be able to tackle pushups on her toes? Will a round of burpees absolutely wipe her out?

“They’re small things, but they motivate me to stay where I’m at. I don’t want to fall off,” said Occhiuto, 33.

Usually, Occhiuto, a mom of three, works out at 4:30 a.m. at Kosama. Now she’s juggling child care, part-time work hours and trying not to disrupt the work schedule of her significant other.

“I don’t have that sense of urgency to get up,” she said. “It’s all a mess. My life is just like thrown into one pile now.”

Occhiuto has followed along with Kosama’s online workouts during the temporary closure. It’s familiar, she said, and makes her feel safe. But she has found it hard to push herself the same way she would when surrounded by her friends in the gym.

She bought some equipment, expecting closures in the future, and dug the treadmill out of storage. She still lacks a designated space for her workout time, though.

Trainers and fellow exercisers have helped boost spirits by checking in daily via email and social media.

“As the days go on, I see more and more people falling off,” Occhiuto said. “Who’s going to be left to push me? I’m going to have to find that myself.”

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