Two months into shelter-in-place, the verdict is clear: working out at home just isn’t the same.
Many people miss the social and psychological effects of putting on purpose-made workout clothes to visit an actual purpose-built space for getting fit. But one generous gym owner is doing all he can to help his community bring an authentic gym experience home.
Drew Whitted, owner of Be Strong gym in Bloomington, Indiana, is allowing gym members to borrow more than $40,000 worth of workout equipment to use at home during the gym’s forced closure— for free.
“We don’t want anything left in here,” Whitted said he told members. “If our members can’t come in and train, we want you to take it home and keep training.”
Around 80 members took him up on the offer to sign out equipment and machines including barbells, weights, exercise bikes, rowers and mats.
“I really encourage members to take things home that they loved, and they knew they were going to use every day,” he said.
He explained that he wants people to keep up with their exercise routines, and he’s thrilled to see how working out with the equipment has brought families together.
“Now I see a whole family, getting through this shelter in place, getting through this tough time doing these workouts together, bonding together, becoming healthier and happier together as a family unit,” Whitted told CNN.
In another effort to keep fitness a constant for his community, Whitted kept just enough equipment at the gym to be able to host daily virtual training sessions.
Member Paulette Cocco used to work out at Be Strong three or four times a week before the shutdown. She said the virtual workouts keep the community connected, and they motivate her to keep up with her fitness routine.
“So you see people posting their pictures and their workouts and makes you feel … pressured, almost like ‘I gotta get my workout in because, you know, Judy got her workout in, I need to too,'” she said.
Many people, including Cocco, insist on paying their fee despite the free month of membership Whitted has offered gym members to make up for lost time during the closure.
The small business owner has pledged to continue to pay his full staff of eight for the duration of the shutdown. Whitted expects all his equipment to make its way back to the gym when shelter-in-place is finally lifted. He says people will be excited to work out together again.