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Pandemic prompts new fitness paths
Local fitness instructor Mia Sandoval went from teaching classes at the health clubs to working out with small groups during the coronavirus pandemic.

Olga is a wife, hairstylist and mother of three teenagers.

Over the years, she’s managed time for herself by squeezing in morning exercise classes at one or more of the In-Shape Health Clubs in Stockton.

But that was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like most regular gym-goers, Olga put her membership on hold back in March and changed up her exercise routind. Sadly, In-Shape was hit hard by the pandemic, recently filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to lost revenue while permanently closing about 20 clubs across the state.

“I’m running now,” Olga said a few months into her new routine. “I’m almost up to five miles.”

This was a new fitness goal for her. It didn’t start off as a New Year’s resolution but rather as an alternative to making do without the local health club.

Health and fitness goals became a great challenge in 2020. This includes local fitness instructors.

Mia Sandoval, for example, taught Body Pump and Muvz – a unique, mixed-impact, high-intensity class that incorporates intervals, bodyweight, core, plyometrics, etc. – at health clubs in Modesto, Manteca and Stockton.

“I now do small trainings at my home gym and Zoom classes,” she said.

Sandoval opted not to go back to health clubs just yet and has no regrets. “I actually love this new path,” she said.

The news isn’t good on health club anytime soon. The San Joaquin Valley region – the 12 counties include both Stanislaus and San Joaquin – will remain under the same restrictions for indefinite period, health officials said on Tuesday.

The ICU capacity in San Joaquin Valley has consistently stayed at or near zero since the start of the three-week stay-home order on Dec. 6.

Sandoval and others prioritize exercise as a stress reducer as well as a boost to the immune system and a benefit to mental health.

This has been unlike most years when it was as simple as joining a gym, receiving input by a fitness trainer on goals, and finding motivation from the fitness environment.

Instead, as Sandoval noted, it’s about finding new paths to those fitness goals.

Finding a friend to walk, run, cycle or exercise is one such way. Working out in small groups or opting for the online communities on Facebook or Strava can also provide accountability.

Olga, meanwhile, discovered that aiming for a specific goal helped in easing into a new routine.

“You have to be consistent – no excuses,” she said.

For Sandoval, her small group workouts consist of “a lot of Body Pump style.”

She added: “I stay pretty busy with clients – I just swam at In-Shape, where I’m just a member for now.”