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COVID-19

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Closures challenge area gyms to stay connected

Farmgirlfit co-founder Jaunessa Walsh introduces the day's workout while coach Savhanna Robertson streams her on Instagram Live on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at the Spokane location of Farmgirlfit. The CrossFit gym, which has two regional locations, is currently closed to the public due to a coronavirus ban on venues that include recreational facilities, but the team is uploading the workouts to members while classes are suspended and gathering an average of 100 followers per session. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Farmgirlfit co-founder Jaunessa Walsh introduces the day's workout while coach Savhanna Robertson streams her on Instagram Live on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at the Spokane location of Farmgirlfit. The CrossFit gym, which has two regional locations, is currently closed to the public due to a coronavirus ban on venues that include recreational facilities, but the team is uploading the workouts to members while classes are suspended and gathering an average of 100 followers per session. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

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Jackie Worobec has been a member of the high-intensity gym Farmgirlfit since not long after it opened its doors in 2012. She’s a regular, and the exercise they provide is an essential component of how she takes care of herself.

When she realized that COVID-19 would shut down recreation facilities, including her gym, she wasn’t sure what to do.

She’d had to pause exercise once because of an injury, and she did not want to return to that time.

Luckily for Worobec, Farmgirlfit formed a plan to broadcast daily workout routines that members could do from home.

“I really love the coaches and their creativity in the way that they’re approaching a difficult situation,” Worobec said.

But Farmgirlfit’s setup is far from the norm. Many fitness centers have shuttered, informing members with a COVID-19-related email to which all have grown much too accustomed.

“Closure for any length of time represents a significant threat to our nonprofit organization,” the YMCA said in an email to its members. “We cannot express the potentially devastating impact extensive cancellations could have. We know the Y is an extension of your family and we remain honored and committed to serving you, just as we have served for the last 135 years.”

The YMCA asked that its members consider their monthly fee a donation rather than placing their membership on hold. The organization’s voicemail informs members that, in light of the ban, all locations would be closed until March 31, effective March 16.

Spokane Fitness Center’s voicemail has a similar message, as does Planet Fitness and MUV Fitness. Anytime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Snap Fitness and Orangetheory Fitness had standard voicemail messages and did not return calls by time of publication.

For Farmgirlfit, an Instagram post informed members the company would post daily workouts Monday through Friday and would continue to pay coaches for their scheduled shifts through March.

The workouts occur on Instagram live – a livestreaming service.

Since the videos are live, Worobec said, she also felt part of her community again, knowing her friends were working out alongside her. Over the course of the workouts, between 120 and 140 people have tuned in live, and many more completed the workout later in the day, Farmfitgirl owner Jaunessa Walsh said.

“It is really important to take care of yourself in order to take care of those around you, but I think especially as women, we sort of feel like we’re being selfish by taking that time instead of spending that time on other people,” Walsh said.

“I do think it becomes hard to figure out what that looks like.”

Another gym choosing to post daily workouts is Mindset Fitness, formerly Giorgio’s Fitness. The gym, which is posting videos on Facebook, opened Feb. 1, just to be shut down 1 1/2 months later, general manager and co-owner Zachary Drinkall said.

“At first, we were scared and were going to do everything we could to stay open, but then we looked at the other side of we don’t want to spread the virus,” Drinkall said.

“We don’t want to be the gym that stayed open and then somebody got it through us.”

Farmgirlfit will also have outdoor meet-ups on Wednesdays, capping the number of participants at 10 people.

But Farmgirlfit isn’t alone. On its Facebook page, Air-O fitness posted an obstacle course that starts in the gym parking lot and has members taking run breaks for things such as high knee tire drills, burpees and tree squat holds.

Crossfit Spokane has also hosted outdoor workouts in which people stayed 6 feet apart and brought their own equipment.

“@crossfitspokane will continue to remain healthy and connected,” read a post on Crossfit Spokane’s Facebook page. “Might be outside, might be at home, or it might be on the phone. But we are family and we are a community filled with love and gratitude for one another!!”

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