Author: Tarannum Rehal
Interview with Deepak Brar (Licensed Personal Trainer and Nutritionist)
Among the many concerns voiced as a result of the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 lockdown(s), one of the most prominent concerns pertains to when gyms and personal fitness facilities will be reopened for public use. Canada, in particular, has been relatively complacent and ineffective compared to other nations in terms of its vaccine rollout and lockdowns. As a result, gyms have been shut down for almost the entirety of the pandemic thus far.
While working out at home is always an option, many people either cannot afford or do not have the space to set up their necessary gym equipment at home. Gyms serve as a spacious environment for one to work out as desired as well as a change of scenery. Furthermore, for many, gyms serve as a way for them to stay committed to their health and fitness goals, which is not always easy to maintain at home.
In my interview with Deepak Brar, a licensed Personal Trainer, we discussed whether gyms should be considered an essential service, what kind of precautions should be implemented when gyms reopen, and effective ways for people to maintain a workout routine at home.
Question 1: Do you think gyms and personal fitness facilities should be considered essential services?
Deepak: Anything that helps you maintain your physical and mental health positively and healthily, in my opinion, is essential. People have various reasons for working out and going to the gym; for some, it’s a way to achieve their dream body or physique, for others it’s a simple means of relieving stress and giving their body internal pleasure through the release of hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. When we think of fitness, we typically associate it with our physical physique and how toned we are, but it also plays a vital role in our mental health as well. You feel confident within your skin and it makes you feel happy and rejuvenated! With gyms being closed for over a year, it has negatively impacted people’s health and normal routines, myself included. When you start working out, it eventually becomes a part of your routine and having that cut out for a significant time can make you lose motivation and succumb to unhealthy patterns in your diet and overall fitness. At times, in certain regions, there was a total lockdown where people weren’t even allowed to go out for a walk, and while it may be a measure of reducing contact between people to reduce COVID cases, it does more harm than good because people aren’t even able to get basic physical movement necessary for optimum health.
Question 2: When the gyms were open during COVID, what kind of safety precautions were being taken and when reopened, now that more and more people are getting vaccinated, what precautions should be implemented?
Deepak: The protocols vary from gym to gym, for example, either people were allowed in the gym on a
first-come-first-serve basis or you had to book an appointment beforehand. This wasn’t an easy or very effective method either because if you’re living in a more densely populated area, the gyms closest to you were most likely fully booked and it was hard to book an appointment. Even I had to book an appointment in a city farther away from the gym I live closest to. In terms of the COVID-safety implementations, it was mandatory to have your mask on you at all times, sanitizing any equipment you used, and maintaining a distance of 2 metres from others in the gym. Going forward, when the gyms reopen and as more people are getting their second dose of the vaccine, I don’t think booking an appointment should be necessary, and depending on updated COVID bylaws, some cities might remove the mask mandate. However, I think that sanitation of the equipment before and after use, pandemic or not, and frequent hand washing should always be a practice that we should all follow regardless.
Question 3: How have you managed to stay active and fit at home? For people who don’t have access to workout equipment, how do you suggest they maintain their fitness regimen?
Deepak: I’ve got some of my equipment and weights at home that I use, so that encourages me to stick to my workout routines, but a gym is a gym. And regardless of whether you have access to gym equipment or not, do what you can to stay active nonetheless; go for a walk or a run, do yoga and stretches, staying fit does not mean that you must do strenuous exercise all the time. Especially amid this pandemic, it is easier said than done but make a goal and schedule for yourself and do your best to stick to it. Also, be especially mindful of your diet. It may sound cliché but you are what you eat and what you put into your body.
Let this also be a reminder to not compare your fitness journey with others; everyone’s goals and progress are different. Try to aim for at least an hour of some sort of exercise or physical activity every day and maintain a healthy diet. Especially amid a pandemic, the vaccine will be most effective when your body is strong and healthy from within.
Thank you, Deepak for taking the time to engage in this discussion with me! I really enjoyed our discussion and gained an insight into how gyms are and should be considered essential services since physical activity benefits us not only physically but mentally as well!