Should you rethink the way you use the gym in an ongoing pandemic?

Coach Troy Perez on how to rethink your local gym after quarantine

Most 14-year-olds see weightlifting as a springboard to escape from an awkward teen’s body. Troy Perez saw the practice as something else: a bridge to connect with his father, who had a brain aneurysm. “He was a man of a man — he built everything — and when the right side of his body was paralyzed, he took so much of it physically,” Perez says.

The high school student spent hours a day training his father, and noticed his joy as his strength improved, albeit slightly and gradually. “I realized then that if you’re not moving, you’re not living,” Perez says.

Perez is now 50, and he’s part of a new wave of personal trainers. He and others stress that the “gains” can be more than just a larger biceps measure and herald that the gym isn’t just a place for swelling.

“Fitness is more than just getting used to—it’s about other physiological processes that you can’t see, and the mind, too.” Perez embraces the philosophy in personal training sessions and in Metro Club USA, his gym in Franklin Park, NJ, where he’s helping clients get back in shape long after they’ve been COVID away from the gym.

Black and white photo of a man in a shirt
Marius Pogue

Back to the gym after the pandemic

Perez points to the fact that America has been hit hard by the pandemic in part because so many people here are overweight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures show the obesity boom and link it to an increased rate of hospitalization and death. Although COVID vaccines provide relief from the worst outcomes, they are not the only solution.

“We’ve all wanted a vaccine, and that’s great,” Perez says. “But now everyone thinks they are fixed. That is wrong. You need to go to a local gym and put yourself in a program so that your life is more sustainable, with less injury, less disease, and a stronger immune system. This is how you will be fixed.” .

To anyone who will listen, Perez instructs that when we return to the gym, we should see it as an inclusive place to grow both physically and mentally. “Reflex balls are thrown into everyone’s life,” says Perez, who says he found his life calling when his father fell ill. He continues, that COVID was the curveball that came to all of us. Here’s how to re-engage in the gym after membership ends — and get your health back on track.

1. switch it

For over a year in quarantine, you’ve probably leaned on a single exercise routine that works for you, like a peloton or running. But now is the time to branch out. “Play it. Do cardio, weights, and flexibility throughout the week. Stimulate your body in many ways and you’ll improve your functional strength.”

2. Take that free session

Join (or rejoin) a fitness center near you who will likely offer you a free personal training session. “Most people don’t take it, and that’s a huge mistake. Nine out of ten times you’ll hear someone say, “I never knew I was doing that wrong.” Use the session to fix your model on your favorite equipment.

3. Don’t choose the gym on price alone

Some corporate gyms have raced it down, in price terms, with the goal of getting as many people as possible, and then hoping they won’t come back. “Shop around. A few extra bucks a month at your local gym, it might be worth it.”

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Written by Joseph

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