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Sound Health: Working (Out) From Home Is Another COVID Trend

Women doing strength training
Emily Bollinger
Jen Blair (right) leads a strength training session at her fitness studio in Bloomington.

Working from home has become a "thing" during the pandemic. So too has "working out" from home.Jen Blair offers personal training at the gym she owns, Core Fitness in Bloomington.

Jen Blair
Credit Emily Bollinger / WGLT
Jen Blair

In this installment of Sound Health, Blair said she offers individual and small group classes at her studio, but when she had to move training sessions online last year, some clients decided they liked that better.

“I have some clients that are planning to stay that way,” Blair said. “They just feel more comfortable. It’s easier for them. They love the convenience of just going to their living room or to their basement and pulling me up and having me on screen doing a workout with them.”

Blair said she's seen a 20% increase in clients since before the pandemic, though she said it was “scary” when the pandemic hit last March and she didn't know when clients could return to the gym she runs with one other trainer on her staff.

Blair said she had planned for a two-week shutdown. The shutdown became 10 weeks.

“If I don’t work, I don’t get paid, but at the same time I still have gym bills that are due and I’m bringing in no income,” Blair recalled.

Blair said nearly all of her clients returned when she reopened and gained many new clients who were looking for a new way to stay in shape without going to a traditional gym.

Blair said weights and other workout tools have been hard to come by as many people shifted to home workouts, but she said you can improvise.

“You can grab a can of black beans, you can grab a bag of flour, you can grab whatever you have at home to throw in there for your weight,” Blair explained. “You can use a bench or a chair to do tricep dips. Anything you have around the house is perfect.”

Blair cautioned beginners  can face increased risk of injury if they try to do too much without supervision.

Sign on table
Credit Emily Bollinger / WGLT
Jen Blair's Core Fitness has seen a 20% increase in clients since before the pandemic.

“If they are trying to do things at home, oftentimes their form can be off and they can hurt their back or hurt their knees.”

Blair said it’s easier to watch clients’ form and technique in person than in a virtual setting.

Blair said she expects to offer a mix of in-person and virtual training sessions in the future. She said while some clients like the convenience of working out at home, others want the full gym experience. She said socialization is a big part of that.

She said the "big box" gyms seem to be doing well too. She said it's a sign more people just want to be active after being cooped up at home for the last year.

“People are getting to the point where they are tired of being home, tired of doing their at-home workouts and they need to get out of the house and they need to be around other people,” Blair said. “I think right now we are very blessed that gyms seem to be thriving now which is great.”

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.