When local gyms closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenny Felice turned to free fitness apps and bought a pair of roller skates, a weighted jump rope, resistance bands, and a couple of used fitness DVDs.

As Felice, a 36-year-old marketer in Kitchener, Ontario, was going through her routines, she ended up buying handweights and a set of kettlebells. Now she alternates between yoga, high-intensity interval training, Zumba, ski jumping and roller skating when the weather permits.

Felice is part of a wave of fitness enthusiasts who have decided not to return to the gym as pandemic measures are lifted across the country.

“I’ve seen more pros than cons of exercising at home compared to the gym,” she said. “I’ve been able to establish a regular routine and it’s much easier to commit to one workout when I don’t have to figure out what to wear to the gym or whether I’m being judged on my looks or my fitness level because I now work out from the comfort of my home . “

Felice admitted that she will never have the same amount of equipment that a gym offers. “Still, I was able to learn to use my own body weight and simple, inexpensive equipment,” she said.

Historically, Felice spent $ 40 a month on a gym membership and up to $ 100 a month on a yoga membership. Exercising from home saves her up to $ 1,680 a year.

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“I spent a small amount of money on my own equipment, but my workplace has a wellness account that reimburses 50 percent of that fitness bills. These savings have been helpful in paying off debts and building savings during the pandemic, ”Felice said.

“Even more than the financial costs, the time saving is most valuable to me. Going to the gym has always been a two-hour ordeal in the past. I would prefer to keep up with home fitness now and would only like to pay membership fees for a gym that offers virtual courses via Zoom or the like. “

Likewise, Alexandra Bosanac, a 34-year-old content marketing manager from Toronto, said she’s unlikely to return to the gym.

“Before I developed a home routine, I thought the gym was my only way to exercise,” she said.

One of the persistent obstacles for Bosanac in the gym, and especially in fitness classes, was that she was unable to perform certain movements due to previous injuries. “I really feel like going to the gym and as part of that culture I have really unrealistic standards for myself,” said Bosanac.

“But now that I train at home and it’s tailor-made, I can find routines and activities that I enjoy and that are really on my level.”

While Bosanac no longer pays $ 500 a year for gym access, she did spend money on some used weights and a stepper. She also pays $ 7 a month for an app that offers bodyweight exercises and watches free fitness classes on YouTube. After these expenses, she saves about $ 350 to $ 400 a year.

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“In a way, it is liberating to know that I can develop sustainable training, both physically and financially. It reassured me that I don’t have to spend my money on memberships to meet my needs. “

The pandemic has forced people to come up with creative solutions, said Simone Samuels, a Toronto-based personal trainer and group fitness trainer who also offers virtual services.

“When training is done safely and effectively at home, there can be fewer barriers and fewer excuses to exercise,” said Samuels. For example, exercisers who create their own home solutions can sometimes save money on gasoline and workout clothes in addition to membership and commuting time.

Cost aside, working at home can be much more accessible for people with marginalized identities, especially those living with a disability, plus size, BIPOC, or LGBTQ, she added.

“[My] Clientele is often clientele who do not feel comfortable in typical fitness studios and with typical fitness trainers. There is some kind of hyper-visibility when you are in the gym with a marginalized body. To work from home. . . can be less abrasive. “

However, there may be restrictions on working from home. For those interested in bodybuilding or just heavy lifting, finding home solutions to lift 25 pounds and more is harder, Samuels said.

And it’s not always a cost saving if you’re interested in buying expensive equipment, she added. For example, there is a difference between buying a set of weights and turning a garage into a home gym.

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People interested in creating a home fitness setup should start with barbells and resistance bands, recommended Samuel. The latter are inexpensive, light and do not take up any space.

People can also look for items in their own environment, such as detergent jugs, to fill with water or stones. Many people currently also use parks and playgrounds to do exercises such as pull-ups.

“You can do a lot with your body weight, too,” says Samuels.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 17, 2021.

Leah Golob, the Canadian press