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The sharp “before” line that COVID has drawn means we’ve been dumped into the ambiguous spot of “during.” There’s no denying that the world has just gotten even more wired.

My world of gyms and workouts is evolving at a dizzying pace to keep up, and I’m really interested to see how various business models approach it.

Is “Free” Sustainable?

We’re pretty much all offering something for free — and there are a myriad of amazing options to choose from. Here are over a dozen curated from one source alone.

But it didn’t take long for it to sink in that we also needed to earn some income still, as individuals to cover our living costs, and as businesses to even keep our doors open.

Different Models

Eastside Fitness, a neighbourhood gym where I’ve worked for years, crunched some numbers and created a new on-line class package. They’re aiming to sell 200 per month, and as of April 16th only had another 50 go to meet the month’s quota.

Functional Athletics in North Van, “my” Crossfit where I usually take a rowing class every Friday, created a YouTube channel and started putting up a workout of the day while the facility is closed. They’ve asked monthly members to let their memberships sit frozen for now and extend any eventual expiry date into the future.

I love both of these approaches, because they both hinge on the existing community created before COVID being a two-way street.

My Own Approach: Charity vs Utility

Maybe it’s my “do it yourself” Alberta upbringing, not gonna lie, but I am not really a huge fan of giving or receiving charity unless there is something of value for either side.

So my own approach as a consumer has been to ask Functional Athletics to draw from my drop-in package every time I complete one of their workouts, and I’m sticking to my regular once-a-week format.

I had recently started using an on-line coach for my bench press before COVID hit. Can’t do that lift for the moment, but his input has been great. (A short detour: now I have learned that not all folding benches go completely flat at the head end. Actual conversation when returning it: “What did you want the bench for?” “Benching.” “Oh, yeah, it won’t work for that.”) So we have pivoted and changed to overhead pressing and weighted pushups.

Finally, for a little R&R, I’ve purchased an annual membership with the Victoria Online Roller Dance Academy. They provide enough free material that I could get away with just using that, but let’s not be an ungrateful sponge!

On the other side as a service provider, I’m posting useful information at no cost, such as how to use diaphragmatic breathing to stay calm, and my follow-along cardio workouts that can be adapted to all fitness levels and equipment availability. And then I occasionally remind people that I’m available for more personalized, live input on strength and mobility via on-line classes and training.

Again, I am trusting that when people realize they could use more input on the things I specialize in, they will open their wallets to someone who is already helpful in other ways.

The Whole Package

Health and fitness-wise, I don’t see any way to separate the mental from the physical from the emotional. We’re one big package under that envelope of skin. And as humans, even a totally confirmed introvert who may be thriving with spending less time out in the noisy world (hi, yes, that’s me speaking there) still needs some sort of social interaction.

So I would strongly encourage you to maintain and perhaps even strengthen your existing human connection during this weird time, and remember to give back to what has nourished you in your life, so that life still feels good once we get to “after.”