Coronavirus, Sports

Ways to stay in shape while public gyms remain closed

The coronavirus pandemic and closure of public gyms has put a damper on the workout routines of many.

Massachusetts gyms will need to wait until the third of a four-phase reopening plan to resume business. Phase Two having recently begun on June 8, those itching to get back into the gym will have to wait a little longer.

Runners jog around the indoor track in the Fitness and Recreation Center. Massachusetts residents itching to work out will have to wait until Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan for gyms to open back up. PHOTO BY HANNAH ROGERS/ DFP FILE

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to work out that follow social distancing protocol. Whether you are looking for workouts to do from your room or you want to get some fresh air with socially-distanced outdoor workouts, many exercises do not have to involve going to a gym. 

If you are indoors and looking to work up a sweat, high-intensity interval training workouts are a great option. 

HIIT workouts combine short bursts of intense exercise with rest periods of lower-intensity movement. The best part of this type of workout is that they require very little space — thus can be done in a dorm room — and oftentimes do not involve any weights or equipment. 

Just searching “HIIT workouts” on Google or YouTube will provide an array of workouts to follow. This is a very effective way to stay fit while also tailoring your exercise to your own intensity level.

If you are looking for slower movements, however, yoga might be better suited for you. 

While the list of physical benefits of practicing yoga seems endless — from increased flexibility to improved athletic performance to protection from injury — yoga does much more than burn calories and tone muscles. It also improves respiration and helps build the foundation for immunity, both of which are especially important during a pandemic.

If you happen to love both HIIT and yoga, believe it or not, there is also such a thing as a HIIT-yoga workout, in which the recovery periods between bursts of intensity make use of yoga poses to relax the body.

If you do not have kettlebells or a medicine ball at home, try using any household item lying around as a substitute. For example, instead of weights, use a backpack filled with books or cans. 

Water or milk jugs are also great because they have handles, which makes them easier to grip and swing. If you have a large bottle of laundry detergent, that works, too. Or take notes from Vincent Duplessis, the incoming Terrier hockey goaltender from Quebec City who has been substituting his weights with ski boots and golf bags.

When you want to get some fresh air, the Charles River Esplanade is a great place to exercise. During the warmer fall and spring months, runners and bicyclists utilize the 17-mile stretch of land along the water. 

The proximity of the Esplanade to Boston University’s campus, as well its breathtaking views of the river and the city skyline, makes it a popular choice among students.

There are also several parcourses throughout Boston that offer a space to do strength training. 

The Outdoor Exercise Park, located near the Esplanade behind BU’s East Campus, features recycled rubber matting, pull-up and push-up bars and sit-up benches. It is a great place to get a full-body workout and has instructions for those who are new to using the parcourse. 

If you are looking to get off-campus, another parcourse is in East Boston’s Piers Park. This green space also offers a waterfront view of Boston’s skyline and features a promenade for biking, running and walking. 

When using these courses, however, be sure to keep a distance from others and come prepared to disinfect the equipment before and after use.

There are many places outside the city to hike and immerse in nature as well. Middlesex Fells Reservation in Stoneham, Mass. is about nine miles from campus and contains more than 100 miles of trails. Certain facilities at the reservation are currently closed due to COVID-19. 

Finally, the famous Harvard Stadium stairs located in lower Allston have drawn athletes, marathoners and fitness enthusiasts alike since 1903.

The stadium has a capacity of 30,000, which can be seated in 37 sections of concrete. Much variation is possible in the workout patterns people do on the stairs. 

It’s easy to find ways to get creative with exercise, even during a pandemic. There are more options than you may think, and you get to set your own pace.


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