Powering through a difficult time

Matt Gentry, Lenoir City Fitness owner, demonstrates a barbell curl exercise.

Many businesses around Loudon County are feeling the negative effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but several local gyms are encouraging people to stay healthy.

Gov. Bill Lee on Sunday signed Executive Order 17 calling for businesses across the state to utilize alternative business models. The order states that gyms and exercise facilities are to temporarily close until April 6.

“It kind of changes it completely, and now we’re obviously shut down to the public so the only people that are going to be coming in here are myself and I have a lady that cleans, and we’re going to be scrubbing the place down over the next several days,” Matt Gentry, Lenoir City Fitness owner, said. “We’re going shut it down to all members. Most of them are understanding, some are pretty frustrated, but most are understanding and it’s out of our control. We’re still going to be cleaning the place while we’re shut down, but there’s not going to be anyone in here really using the facilities or working out.”

Other local gyms, including Anytime Fitness in Loudon and Gold’s Gym in Lenoir City, are shut down as well for at least the next two weeks.

Anytime Fitness manager Bryan Hurst expected a full shutdown was on the horizon in which he and staff members worked to clean the facility and prepare for this situation.

“As you might’ve guessed, we’ve been on overtime with cleanliness, but thankfully, that’s kind of been a good thing that we’ve not had a bunch of traffic or new business because it’s given us the opportunity to make sure that our members, we can keep them safe,” Hurst said. “Even just in the actual types of products we’re using, we usually use a pH disinfectant on a regular basis, but we actually got some hospital-grade wipes as well as the disinfectant that they would use in that setting. We’ve definitely upped the ante in that regard since finding out about this.”

Now that gyms across the state are temporarily closed, gym owners and trainers are finding ways to keep clients involved through online workout videos and plans.

Gentry will be posting at-home workout routines for members on his personal social media pages.

“I’m actually going to be putting together just a list of exercises and workouts you can do at home, just bodyweight-type stuff,” Gentry said. “You can use household items, this and that, and I’ll be sharing them to my Instagram page and our gym Facebook page as well, just keep people on the right track. I know people have goals to keep up with and we don’t want to get away from those ... getting bored at home and instead of just sitting there binge watching Netflix, they can do something productive even though they are stuck at home.”

Anytime Fitness will offer interactive online workout videos on social media as well.

“We’re actually going to do a decent amount of videos at home, workouts at home that we’re actually going to post to each of our respective locations,” Hurst said. “... I know it’s a little more complicated, but it’s ‘Can I use a chair for a piece of workout equipment and what do I actually do with that chair if I’m going to?’ There’s all kinds of tools that don’t necessarily look like exercise equipment, but they can be that very easily. A lot of people have got steps at their house, they’ve got yards. There’s a number of things that if we just get a little bit creative or maybe see something done a different way.”

Regular exercise is important and can help strengthen the body’s immune system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is placing a heavy emphasis on people to eat healthy, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs during this time.

“Exercise is actually a great way ... it actually clears bacteria, infection out of the lungs and everything, kind of keeps your immune system intact and boosted,” Gentry said. “It increases white blood cell count, and it’s actually great for fighting off infection or preventing it. There is a benefit to exercise while trying to avoid getting sick as long as you’re clean about it.”

While exercise can be beneficial, Hurst also warns that too much can impair the immune system.

“Exercise can be a double-edged sword in the sense of where it can really benefit but on the other end of the spectrum, it can actually be a detriment if you’re just crazy about it,” he said. “This is not the time where you train for a marathon or decathlon or just something crazy like that training-wise, this is a time where you’re active, you’re healthy, you move and get the blood flow and do those types of things. It’s not the time where you stress the body doing high intensity crossfit WODs (Workout of the Day) and that kind of training. ... There’s that delicate balance of let’s be active, we can still strength train a little bit, we can still do some cardiovascular activity, but it’s not pushing for anything new.”