To Your Health: Lost or Gained? Fitness During a Pandemic

Contributor: Rich Butler, MS, USPTA
To learn more about Rich, click here.


Canyon Ranch in Lenox reopened in late July and the stories about what has happened to people’s fitness varies widely! The classic ‘fork in the road’ parable works very well.

Most of us remember where we were the day the pandemic took over our lives.  Suddenly countless unknowns appeared all at once.  Our work, family, children, travel, and health were all in question.  At some point, you made a choice.  Besides the decision about food, shopping, alcohol or take-out, you tried to figure out how to move, how to get active, how to break a sweat.  The sales of Peloton, hand weights, and TRX tell the story.  Despite being backordered for weeks, people were itching to get their exercise at home while gyms were closed and the personal trainer was forbidden.  But sadly, for others, they stalled right in place.  Just today my colleague relayed a story that her guest said, “Once the gym closed, I was lost.”  She replied, “Why? What do you do at the gym?”  He answered, “the treadmill.” 

As a tennis coach will tell you, nothing is more valuable than the player who is willing and able to adjust to changing circumstances. Sunny or windy, singles or doubles, winning or losing, the player can be trusted to adjust and give their best effort. The fitness equivalent is the individual that by April of this year, reimagined their activities and filled their red ring (Apple watch) any way they could.  Remember, the role of activity at its core is: expend energy at an elevated enough level to double your resting heart rate, increase your metabolic rate 5x, and break free of your laptop before you become fossilized.

Here is a list of solutions we recommend to anyone who is trying to return to an activity level they previously had.

  1. Zoom - Yes, I said it. For the individual who needs to be led with some snappy music or rhythmic lifting, sign up for an online Zoom and join the party.  Essentially, that is all that Peloton is doing.  Maybe you need yoga, Zumba or Crossfit.  Dig a little, and you will find it.  The ‘Mirror’ would love to have your business.
  2. For the fair weather fan, get your miles in. Set a goal of steps/miles/calories/flights.  It doesn’t matter which you choose, but find a route in your area that you can repeat.  Invite a friend, make a phone call, walk a dog.  Get out!    
  3. Go have fun! Lifetime sports, or leisure sports as they are also known, provide ample opportunities to be on your feet, moving with a varied level of intensity.  Best known are golf, tennis, canoeing and biking, but coming on fast is pickleball.  The courts up here in MA were packed with players as soon as Phase II allowed for it. It was a great scene! Find an instructor or beginners’ clinic near you.
  4. Nature - It is remarkable when we humans get away from each other and get out into the areas where the other species thrive. “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.” ~ Rachel Carson

An earnest guest came here for a visit last month. She signed up for 4 private tennis lessons.  Her reason was not to learn the game.  As she put it, “Make it a cardio session any way you can, I am so sick of running.” 

Like no other time, we need to adjust our activities to whatever the situation allows.  So, the good news is you are on the team!  Good hustle!

Contact Rich at: [email protected]