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Staying fit during challenging times in Newfoundland and Labrador

Tyler Coombs at a recent strongman competition in St. John’s. Coombs has been finding creative ways to stay fit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy Tyler Coombs
Tyler Coombs at a recent strongman competition in St. John’s. Coombs has been finding creative ways to stay fit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy Tyler Coombs


Brad Jones is used to going to the gym. Every day for the last 15 years, the South River native has spent two hours of his day putting his body through a gruelling round of physical exertion.

A former Mr. Newfoundland and Mr. Atlantic Canada winner, Jones has never taken two weeks off from lifting and he isn’t used to the downtime. It is a situation Jones, and others who rely on their gym, find themselves in after gyms across the province were forced to close in light of COVID-19 prevention measures. Gyms aren’t considered essential services and their closures left people scrambling to replace that part of their lives.

At the outset of the lockdown, Jones bought a home gym in an attempt to recreate some sort of semblance to his fitness world pre-COVID-19, but it hasn’t been the same. Normally, Jones will eat six meals a day in order to keep his body fuelled for his workouts. That number is down to three meals and he’s feeling full after them.

“Everything is so basic right now,” he said. “You’re trying to stay on diet and go from there. You’re limited in what you can do.”

Jones is a personal trainer and has been delivering the same message to clients through all of this.

“It is definitely a change for every person,” he said.

Jones hasn’t been the only person in the province trying to find a solution to their fitness problem. For Spaniard’s Bay’s Tyler Coombs, the gym was as beneficial for his mental health as it was for his overall fitness. Apart from ensuring he got to the gym six days a week, if he felt like he was having a particularly rough day he could always head back to the gym for a second workout.

“It was an escape for me. It is an escape for a lot of people,” said Coombs. “I miss having that outlet.”

He doesn’t have any gym equipment at his home, but he’s been lifting whatever he can think of. That means, he’s lifted the bed frame and his couch, and he has curled 12-packs of water. He also jogs whenever he can. In an attempt to keep things as normal as possible, Coombs has taken to wearing his workout gear when he goes to lift or jog.

“It isn’t easy, but I am managing,” he said.

USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Gyms have been trying to do their part in keeping their clients active. Some are posting daily workouts to their social media pages, while trainers, yoga teachers and others have been posting how-to videos to keep people active.

School Sports Newfoundland and Labrador has been prompting students across the province to stay active through its Participation Nation program. Through their social media feeds, the group has been suggesting at-home activities they can do, and is imploring people to send in photos.

“It is pretty easy to go stir crazy in your home,” said Courtney Russell, Participation Nation core co-ordinator. “It is a hard time for a lot of students and we’re still trying to motivate you and keep you active. Whatever we can do at home, that is what we are trying to accomplish.”

That has meant coming up with enough activity ideas to keep students active until what was supposed to be the end of the school year.

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” said Russell.

Bristol’s Hope resident Shane Lambert has been making an effort to get more active for the last year or so. When the lockdown hit he had to make some upgrades to his home gym.

“For four to five days a week I’ve been doing weight training and supplementing that with a cardio routine and walks outside with my wife and kids when the weather permits,” said Lambert. “YouTube has been a great resource, too. You can find plenty of relatively simple, in terms of equipment required, at-home routines on there. The lockdown afforded me a great deal of extra time, though, so I have been ramping it up a bit.”

There are still challenges to being stuck at home and trying to work out. For one, his basement isn’t the most ideal place to try to get some cardio in.

“I’ve had to get pretty creative. After some searching online I devised a pretty awesome high-intensity interval routine that can be done without needing a lot of space,” said Lambert.

nicholas.mercer@thecentralvoice.ca

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