What to Do When Your Gym Closes (Again)

You can still focus on strength, conditioning, and mobility.

Nearly every state in the country closed fitness centers during the recent first wave of the Covid outbreak. Gym goers everywhere were stuck holding their gallon water jugs in their hand while businesses across the country (and world) were forced to close with no understanding when they would reopen. Fortunately, many have reopened (some states like NY though are still under closure) and people got back to business as usual.

Now, with infections surging, governments are considering all options and may re-close facilities in certain markets. With fitness equipment either sold out in most places or price gouging making much of it unaffordable, what can be done if your center gets closed again?

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Gym Dumbbells

Homemade Home Gym

In 2017 I wrote a piece on do-it-yourself equipment to save some money. It may be time to step up the game and make a complete strongman home gym in the garage to help stave off the next wave of closures. With a little ingenuity you can get through the drought and not lose all of your gains. Get creative and realize:

  • Laundry bags can be stuffed with sand and made into great carry and load bags. Just be a bit more gentle with them than you would heavy duty commercial ones.
  • While expensive, chains can add weight to your homemade axle and destabilize hen left to hang. You may already have a few in the garage.
  • Weight plates can be made from cement. While not super durable, filling a pan with cement and making a hole for the bar to fit into is simple and effective.
  • If you haven’t come up with a pull-up bar, now is the time to make one up for the garage doorway.

Stones: Nature’s Gym

In the do-it-yourself equipment article, I talk about natural stones and how they are everywhere. Besides loads and carries you can use stones in a myriad of ways to get stronger and build mass.

  • Bear hug squats are tough as hell! Grab a stone or bag and give it a big hug, squat down and return as you would with a back squat. Just don’t be surprised at how much harder you work with weight on your diaphragm.
  • Stone throwing. Simple as it sounds, but we aren’t skipping rocks, you want 30-50 pound field stones and use them like a shot put, or overhead toss, just get out of the way!
  • Stone pressing. Get them over your head kids, just be careful of your grip! Higher reps and staying away from failure works best here.

New Things, Nutrition, and Recovery

During the last lock down I trained at home with my powerblocks, sandbag, and other equipment I made myself. I also started running (again), quit drinking during the week (pretty much), and tightened up my nutrition. This led to dropping from 20% to 10% body fat and significantly lowering my blood pressure. During this break you may want to consider trying to do some cardio, yoga, calisthenics, rock climbing, hiking, or a million other activities you have forgotten about. Get on your Huffy and ride some hills to add some endurance for the legs. There are benefits to monkey bars, climbing ropes and swimming that you can’t get in regular training. Do not become myopic in your views on training and open up to new challenges.

It was also easy to order takeout, or grab some curbside during this challenging time. It would be much more beneficial to really dial in your nutrition and get a better body composition when this is over. Make your food at home with quality ingredients and explore the wonderful way we can make healthy meals at home.

  • Spend some time as well working on healing from your adapted sessions. If you add in the suggested new activities you may need to treat your body in a more effective way to get the most out of it.
  • Commit to using a foam roller, therapy gun, or lacrosse ball for some daily massage. The better you feel, the better you may perform.
  • Work on your breathing and other techniques to reduce your stress.
  • Try doing some deep visualization, focusing on your goals and technique. See yourself moving perfectly through each event making your attempts smoothly and efficiently.

A few months back I wrote an article that was in favor of closing gyms during the outbreak. While this situation has lasted far longer for some, I did not anticipate that some businesses would be closed for four months now. This is devastating and the outcome of this move will not be known for a long time, if ever. Unfortunately many of us have lost our jobs, community and lifestyle. If this has happened to someone you know, rally behind them. Pay your dues if you can. Help recruit new members when it reopens. Build a new, stronger community when the opportunity avails itself. For now, make the most of the opportunity presented to you and adapt to a new way of training.