HOLD HOLD HOLD
Rachel Kaldor has learned to put up with an unusual, minor inconvenience during her workouts: automatic sprinkler systems that spring to life at Land Park, where she exercises three times a week with Forest Vance Training. Like a number of other Sacramento fitness businesses, Forest Vance Training took its classes outside in July when Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered gyms that had been allowed to reopen just weeks earlier to close again.
Fitness businesses faced a tumultuous summer as many closed, re-opened and then had to close again in keeping with state and local orders. Newsom gave gyms the go-ahead to resume operations in mid-June, but when case numbers rose moving into July, Sacramento County mandated gyms to shut down once more.
Nevertheless, fitness instructors and studio owners expressed a willingness to keep teaching with schedules adapted for online and outdoor formats. Outdoor services have kept struggling businesses afloat, plus exercise has helped many people feel healthy and reduce stress during the pandemic.
“During these times, people need health and fitness more than anything because they’re stressed, they’re anxious from all the things that are happening in the world,” said Forest Vance, the owner of Forest Vance Training. “We tried to just be that positive place where people can focus on their fitness and be healthy and do it in a safe way.”
Vance teaches 45-minute classes in Land Park that include strength training, cardio and stretching. Many of his clients fall between the ages of 40 and 60, he said, but they have felt safe exercising while standing at a distance from each other in the large park.
Kaldor said she has enjoyed outdoor workouts overall.
“It was really pleasant to be with the trees and birds and whatever,” she said. As for the surprising sprinklers, “we’ve learned a little about their range and where they’re most likely to come on and try to avoid those.”
Other Sacramento gyms are trying to adjust to outdoor conditions, too.
The YMCA has shifted more than 20 weekly classes as well as some of its regular gym equipment outdoors, where people can work out in the mornings while temperatures remain tolerable, said Danielle Buffalino, director of the Sacramento Central YMCA. The outdoor facilities are currently open on a by-reservation basis from 6 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to noon on the weekends.
Fitness Rangers offers more than 80 classes per week in the parking lot and alleyway by its building and in Maddox Park, said manager Dana Fleischman. Offerings include spinning, boot camp, barre and “hot pilates”—which takes advantage of the Sacramento sun rather than relying on the heaters that some pilates studios used pre-pandemic.
“It’s going to be a tough six months, but we’ve been fortunate to have a team that can kind of move on a dime and get creative,” Fleischman said. “While it’s hard, we’re trying to make the best out of it. With everything going on in the world, if we can provide a positive outlet for fitness I think that’s the least we can do.”
Gyms and fitness studios, like restaurants and other businesses, will have to re-think outdoor alternatives come winter. By late fall, rain and shorter daylight hours will limit options for open air workouts.
Fitness Rangers is thinking of building an outdoor gym space that would include turf and an awning to help people exercise more comfortably in varied weather conditions.
Kaldor said she would take exercise classes via Zoom or YouTube if she couldn’t go to the park because she finds consistent workouts so beneficial.
Online exercise tutorials have proliferated since the start of the pandemic and sales of home fitness equipment have soared, meaning more Sacramento residents than ever may now be equipped to work out at home. Still, doing crunches on the living room floor holds limited appeal if other options are available.
“I would continue as long as the weather and light permit,” Kaldor said of attending early-morning exercise classes outdoors.