Hitting the Gym: My First Time Post-Pandemic


Once, many moons ago, I was a fit person. I woke up every morning at 5:30 and hit up Gold’s Gym before my family awoke. After coming home to breakfast with my husband and littles, I would watch some Super Why!, get the kids dressed in mismatched toddler outfits, and go back to the gym for yoga or Body Pump or just a few quiet minutes of stretching in an empty group fitness room. My gym was my safe space and self-care: an hour mid-day break from my kids while I earned mood-boosting endorphins and improved my health. I had tried working out at home for years, and while that is a great option for many people, it just never worked for me. I always cut my workouts short, didn’t push myself, got distracted, or just skipped it because I was busy doing something else.

For me, going to the gym is simply what it takes to be successful.

When the wild ride that is 2020 closed down fitness centers last spring, people all over the country started owning their home workouts and posting inspiration all over social media. I watched all the excitement and thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna do that!” Um, except that I didn’t, because remember how that just never pans out for me? Still true. Over the last few months, I have steadily gotten more lax with my health, and I know the reason I feel so “bleh” is due to my lack of exercise. Now that my kids are finally back in school, it is time for me to return to the gym!

Ubiquitous gym selfie!

Although I have been a member at Gold’s Gym for years, I was nervous about heading back during a pandemic. Surely safety and sanitation measures would be in place, but would that interfere with my workout experience? I didn’t know what to expect. When I walked in the door, though, things seemed surprisingly normal. Staff were all wearing masks, the apparel shop had been pared down for distancing, and my temperature was scanned upon checking in, but everything else was functioning normally. Members are asked to wear masks upon entering, exiting, and in common spaces like the locker room, but when on the floor, it wasn’t too difficult to maintain 6 feet of distance so I could remove my mask. Self-cleaning supplies are abundant to wipe down equipment before and after use.

Overall, it felt like the gym should always feel — clean, safe, and healthy.

After some heart-pumping cardio on an elliptical machine, I headed to the group fitness room, where I would normally stretch in a corner since no class was in session. However, the room was locked, and though I was disappointed, it didn’t take me long to consider how difficult it would be to maintain sanitation in that room if guests continually go in and out all day, so I understand why it was closed off. I went to another room to stretch and realized there are no communal mats hanging up like normal. This was another mild inconvenience that really makes a lot of sense when you think about cleanliness. (How many germs had I been exposed to in years past using those same mats all the time??) Next time I’ll just bring my own, which I probably should have been doing all along anyway.

My youngest was at Parents’ Day Out that day, but I stopped into the Gold’s Kid’s Club room to check out new guidelines for next time I bring him. They are checking temperatures and asking older kids to wear masks, which is nothing too crazy. The best thing, honestly, is that they are turning away kids who exhibit signs of illness, a policy that is on the books at every childcare facility, but it’s actually sometimes difficult for care centers to enforce in practice. Now that they are being more thorough with wellness checks, I actually feel safer about bringing my children here without fear of them catching something from other kids. The toys are cleaned more frequently, with a longer midday break to sanitize the room. The play equipment is closed because it is so difficult for staff to monitor and keep clean, but to be honest, those have kinda grossed me out ever since Discovery Zone circa 1993. The XBOX was on though (with controllers wiped down between users), so my little man is still excited to hit up the gym next week!

FYI for parents!

If you’ve been waiting to go to the gym because of the uncertainty of the pandemic, now is the time to give it another try. Our fitness centers want to stay open and serving you, so they’re doing all they can to keep members and guests safe.

Gold’s Gym has all the features I need to be successful while prioritizing my health. Next time I’ll be trying a socially distanced group fitness class — stay tuned for more!

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Knoxville born and bred, my love for this area is deep and true! I'm a working-turned-stay-at-home mom to 4 kiddos from kindergarten to middle school. My husband and I live in Knoxville where we both lead nonprofit organizations and are trying to become Love in our community. I love watching my kids learn something new, cooking for other people (but not for myself), and telling myself I'm a #fitmom when I go to the gym like once a week. I'm a bottle-feeding, disposable diapering, public-schooling (other than that one kid I'm homeschooling this year) mom with the stereotypical chill attitude of moms with large(r) broods. I love meeting new people, but I talk way too much and laugh when I'm uncomfortable. If you don't mind long stories and bad jokes, we are sure to be friends! Follow my family adventures on my blog Unthank You Very Much


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