As a personal trainer, Michael Syrojeschin can speak from experience about the impact that the pandemic has had on the US gym and health club industry.
Estimates show that the industry lost as much as $13.9 billion between the mid-March and August 31, 2021. This was due- in no small part- to both locks downs and changing consumer preferences associated with the pandemic.
In addition to the changes that COVID had in store for the fitness industry, the pandemic has continued to influence our physical health as well.
Impacted by factors such as lower physical activity and changes in routine, some 42% of adults have reported undesired weight gain since the beginning of the pandemic- around 29 pounds on average.
Michael notes that there is certainly a lot of speculation on what long term effects COVID-19 will have on the fitness industry. What he recognizes as more important, however, is that individuals realize that there are many ways to take a direct role in their physical fitness during this time.
Why The Weight Gain During the Pandemic?
There are many potential reasons for the significant reports of weight gain during the pandemic. According to Syrojeschin, one of the most glaring is the mix of stress and isolation that people have experienced.
Other experts have suggested additional reasons for the rising weight gain as well including difficulties finding new routines, lack of exercise, and changing diets.
Michael points out that weight gain- due to the pandemic or otherwise- should not be a source of shame. Weights, even in healthy individuals, can be subject to an ebb and flow. For this reason, Michael Syrojeschin is a fan of offering wholistic solutions and support to friends, family, and clients rather than play the blame game.
What Can We Do About It?
Michael Syrojeschin recognizes that now, more than ever, we have a wide range of options for to help us maintain our physical fitness.
This variety allows us to tailor the process to our own preferences, and it is important to remember that not every aspect of remaining physically fit is related to working out in the gym. Instead, Michael suggests a wholistic approach that factors in the multiple reasons why we gain weight over time.
Listed are a few of the suggestions that Michael gives to friends, family, and clients that set a foundation for healthy living in a simple, streamlined way.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Experts have found that there is a profound correlation between physical and mental health. One connection is that poor mental health can lead to fatigue and lethargy, with some studies finding that issues such as depression and chronic illness are often reciprocal.
Because of the ways in which mental health can impact the physical side of things, Michael notes that it is important that fitness experts speak to ways that we can support our mental upkeep.
Luckily, the possibilities for upholding our mental health are endless. Some common ways that an individual can show a commitment to mental wellness during the pandemic include practicing self-care, taking time to enjoy their favorite activities, and keeping in contact with friends and family for a strong support network.
Emphasize Positive Eating Habits
Michael is a proponent of eliminating the idea of “good” and “bad” foods, but he does uphold that certain eating habits can be better for us than others.
Specifics of what may be best for our physiology can depend on many factors. Still, getting adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein are a great start for maintaining a diet conducive to good health.
In terms of sticking to said eating habits, Michael Syrojeschin recommends taking as much of the guesswork out of the process as possible. One common way to do so is by keeping healthy food and snacks easily accessible in the home. The easier it is to follow healthy eating habits, the more likely you are to keep them up.
Many people struggle with healthy eating because they believe that it means the end of some of their favorite foods. This often is not the case, and a conversation with a doctor or dietician can help clarify things if you are unsure of what are best practices for your height, weight, build, etc.
Find Your Preferred Method of Physical Activity
A benefit of the fitness industry is that it is constantly developing. To date, there are dozens more inventive ways to work on and track our physical fitness goals than when Michael became a trainer years back.
This means that there is certainly a method of physical activity that you will enjoy enough to stick with as you work towards maintaining your health. Joining a gym is a common method- but many are still unwilling during the recent surge of COVID-19 cases stemming from the Delta variant.
The pandemic has led to a rise in fitness methods that creatively integrate technology, with Peloton standing out as a prime example. Michael encourages those looking into fitness to remember that there are options that require smaller financial commitments as well.
Some of Michael Syrojeschin’s favorite ways to maintain his health are often the simplest. Running, body exercises such as pushups, sit ups, and pullups, sports, as well as weight exercises are a few common ways to get into the swing of exercising without many associated costs.
If you have trouble finding what works for you or have difficulties figuring out how to diversify your exercises in terms of time, intensity level, and repetition, consider checking online resources or speaking with a physical trainer/ fitness expert.
Don’t Give Up!
It can be difficult to commit to a healthy lifestyle in this current climate, but it is important to know that you are more than capable if it is something that you want.
Michael Syrojeschin encourages individuals who consult him to keep in mind that the path to success is not straight up. There may be days where you feel unstoppable and see results, and there may be days where you feel stuck.
What is most important is that we do not give up on our goals for living long, healthy lives. Any show of commitment to health is better than nothing!