When Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the Safer at Home order on March 15, gyms were forced to shut down, leaving people without a place to exercise. After five monotonous months of working out in living rooms and bedrooms, using soup cans and bottles of wine as stand-ins for weights, people grew weary of their limited options.
Fitness studios have been on a rollercoaster with their reopening plans. In June, gyms received the green light to reopen but the city government ordered them to close down again just a week later. In early August, workout classes and fitness studios began finding other ways to continue their business and provide classes. Well-known workout studios such as SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp utilized nearby parking lots, outdoor rooftops and alleyways across Los Angeles as gym space.
SoulCycle, known for its trendy group spin classes, set up bikes at least six feet apart with a silent disco audio system and updated safety measures designed to keep riders, studio staff and instructors safe. The silent disco audio system allows SoulCycle to keep the notorious motivational mantras teachers shout at the riders while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines; because COVID-19 can spread easily through singing, voice projection, and yelling. At the new outdoor-adapted locations — which includes Downtown LA, Century City, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and Westlake Village — instructors, staff, and riders are also all required to wear a mask throughout the workout. At his class in Santa Monica, instructor Ross Ramone, shared how he is adjusting.
“Wearing a mask working out isn’t ideal, [you have to] take breaks during the ride...but this is what we got right now. Let’s make the best of it,” Ramone said.
Avid riders, like USC student Sophie Antebi, still prefer the group experience of SoulCycle despite the many changes.
“It’s inspiring to work out with a group of people because there is a common goal. Everyone is supportive. It forces you to keep up with the workout and create a sense of community,” Antebi said. “You can leave all of your problems for some time when working out with others.”
Like other COVID-19 modified activities individuals' must evaluate their personal comfort level when choosing to attend a group workout class during the pandemic. In doing so, many people continue to prefer remote classes.
Jackie Goodman, a former instructor at Pilates Plus, who now works as a personal trainer, started teaching group fitness classes years ago to let people “come together and share stories about our lives while we worked out.” But when the shutdowns began, her approach changed. Jackie began creating 30-minute group fitness classes on Zoom that provide a high-intensity, full-body workout from the comfort of home.
While Goodman “never thought [she] could live without being in a physical gym,” she also found many benefits to this new type of online training.
“[There’s] no drive time, no overhead cost and not having to wear a mask while we exercise, which [wearing a mask while working out] is something I couldn’t do, to be honest,” Goodman said.
Similarly, Clara Nevins, a Los Angeles resident and a former group workout fanatic, said she will stick to a group workout through Zoom called Jabs by Gina for the duration of the pandemic.
“I don’t know the next time I will feel safe being in a gym or doing a group workout in person — it almost feels like one of the worst things to do during a pandemic! I feel safe, yet I get the same energy and motivation I get from my usual group workouts,” Nevins said.
If you choose to attend outdoor workout classes, remember to take the necessary safety precautions: social distance and wear a mask. Go at your personal pace and remember everyone has their own preferences. Some gyms and fitness studios open for outdoor classes in Los Angeles include SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Bunda, Carrie’s Pilates, Hot 8 Yoga, Box n Burn, Training Mate, CycleBar, and F45 training. Please look out for full reviews throughout the semester.