COVID-19 forces gym-goers to reshape their fitness routines

Lauren Good reporter

Gyms and fitness centers across the country started reopening in May, but for many, COVID-19 has changed business forever. 

Since the start of nationwide lockdowns in March, home gym equipment sales have skyrocketed over 170 percent. Public gym-goers are faced with a difficult decision: wear a mask at the gym or reshape your fitness routine. 

Kent local and Planet Fitness patron, Ezekiel Smith, joined the Water Street Planet Fitness location when he moved to Kent for work in 2018. After being closed for a month, Planet Fitness reopened its Kent Location on May 28

“I enjoyed the convenience of a 24-hour gym at a reasonable price, but when coronavirus spread I started to feel uneasy about returning to the gym,” Smith said. “When Planet Fitness reopened in May, I felt it was too early. I’ve got a mother with diabetes and a young child at home. I can’t risk their health so I can go to the gym.” 

Instead, Smith now uses fitness equipment like kettlebells in his home rather than risking exposure to coronavirus at the gym. 

“Even if gyms are reopening, it doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent safe and I just couldn’t justify that,” he said. 

Kent State students are also facing fitness challenges as more details about on-campus living emerge for fall 2020. While the Beverly J. Warren Student Recreation and Wellness Center will tentatively reopen on Aug. 17, workout spaces will be limited with only most gym attractions open. Areas such as the aquatics center, basketball courts and rock wall may not reopen, as enforcing social distancing guidelines could be difficult in these spaces.

For Kent State sophomore Kaitlynn Porter, the Rec Center’s reopening is bittersweet. 

“As someone who is an avid climber, coronavirus is the worst thing that could happen for those who climb indoors,” Porter said. “Climbing walls are hard to sanitize and masks can make breathing difficult. I’m happy that we’ll have some of the gym back open, but I still want to climb.” 

In lieu of an indoor facility, Porter has been enjoying outdoor climbing and bouldering at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and other outdoor locations around Kent. 

“In the summer it’s easier to get outside to climb, we’re fortunate to have a lot of outdoor climbing areas around Kent that are well maintained,” Porter said. 

For those looking to change up their fitness routine, the Rec Center is offering free online fitness classes and education through their website,

Contact Lauren Good at [email protected].