The Transylvania Times -

Many Ways To Stay Fit During COVID-19 - Brevard, NC


Last updated 2/24/2021 at 4pm

Bill Bailey is a local fitness coach. (Photo by Matt McGregor)

If someone has resistance bands, some dumbbells and gravity, one can create the ideal home gym for staying fit at home during COVID-19, according to Bill Bailey, a fitness coach at The Fitness Factory on Asheville Highway, where Bailey has trained for 11 years.

Bailey has been training people for up to 30 years.

In the early 90s, few people were getting certified as a personal trainer, though it's a large industry now.

He got certified at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, one of the top 10 certification organizations in the country, leading him to a career in helping others connect mind and body.

"I always tell people, 'We train the brain to control the body," Bailey said. "Without the brain, you are simply going through the motions. A lot of people do go through the motions because they don't know any better, but whenever they are willing to listen, I give them reminders that we are training the brain to prompt the mindfulness, awareness and posture. I start everybody off in assessing their fitness with what their posture looks like, and you can do that at home."

Bailey said one can take a kettle bell or a dumbbell, or just body weight, and perform a basic squat, with squat variations, such as a squat jump, squat curl or squat press, creating a combination of movements that involve the whole body.

Fun fact: a kettlebell is named that because, for centuries, church bells were rung by pulling a lever that was strung through wheels and attached to the bells. Some bells weighed as much as 3 tons, requiring a team having great strength and skill to create the proper sound.

To perfect their technique, bell ringers would practice with nonclapper bells called "dumbbells," which evolved into a training tool after a brief stint as a prop in Eastern European circus acts.

Using either a kettlebell, dumbbell, and the available gravity, one can increase heart rate, and, therefore, your body's ability to consume oxygen through a combination of movements.

Consuming oxygen is a big factor, and an angle one might not necessarily consider, Bailey said, in property exercise technique, which can be improved through proper form in exercise, Hiking and a combination of movements.

Among the many home activities, such as the variations of squats and push-ups, one can get in a push-up position, take a kettle- or dumbbell, and enact a rowing motion, which involves the shoulders, stability and body control.

A posture check is always a good place to start, Bailey said.

"You can stand up against the wall, put your arms up like a goal post behind your head, and if your arms can't touch the wall with your heals, butt and shoulder blades touching the wall, then you have some posture tightness," he said. "So, with things like that, you can do it sitting down, or you can do it standing in a warm shower, when you are getting the muscles warmed up."

There are a variety of movements that can be enacted within a 15-minute time frame that would encompass a good work out, depending on how much rest is taken in between each one.

"If someone is really fit, you just go from one movement to another with them, with almost no rest, and you use more resistance, more repetitions and more challenging movements," Bailey said. "Whereas, with someone who is just beginning, you take it real slow, real light, work on slow control movements to train the body, sort of like a kid learning how to swing a tennis racket or a baseball bat, you take them through the slow motions of learning how to swing, breaking it down very slow," Bailey said. "But on an advanced level, you can just speed things up, getting the heart rate up and the blood flowing."

There are many makeshift ways to work out at home, such as using the edge of a table to work the triceps, or sitting on the floor, pulling one's knees to the chest, performing a seated knee tuck or doing a variation of a push up: when in the push-up position, bring a knee toward an elbow, alternating each, working the shoulders and the abs.

Lunges, too, though not everyone's favorite due to its initially awkward movement, can be incorporated into the flow.

"What really ends up happening is you become sort of like an artist," Bailey said. "I always tell people you kind of combine math, science, art and gym class together to get a good work out if you want to be as creative and fun as you want, whether it is a 15, 30, 45 or an hour workout. And for most people who want just the benefits of being healthy and fit, anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour is more than enough on any given day."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bailey has explored new avenues of training, such as virtual training on Facetime, and, in addition. He suggested using YouTube, which is filled with do-it-yourself workout instructional videos.

The challenge in this, and why it's beneficial to have a virtual session with Bailey, is that it can be difficult to achieve proper form without guidance. One could be doing push-ups or squats in a way that could be doing more harm than good, resulting in an injury.

On Facebook, Bailey can observe and make adjustments through virtual instruction.

Bailey said one of the benefits of living in Brevard is the Hiking, where one can extend one's home gym into the mountains, performing intense cardio while climbing mountain trails.

Jodi Thomas, who trains at the Brevard Health and Racquet Club on Country Club Road, has been in the health and wellness field for over 20 years as a certified personal trainer and a newly certified health coach.

"Being active at home is easier than you think," she said. "First, find something you love to do. We are surrounded by beautiful trails for walking, Hiking and Biking. Walking is a great exercise and can be done anywhere. Work up to power walking and aim for 10,000 steps a day. It's even better if you find a friend to go with you and hold you accountable."

Depending on budget, one can look into a spin bike to have at home.

The start of COVID-19 meant the closing of gyms across the country.

According to various consumer reports, some businesses, such as Play it Again Sports, where customers can trade in and purchase used workout equipment, have experienced an unprecedented increase in demand for fitness equipment of up to 392 percent increase since September of 2019, with dumbbells, kettlebells and stationary bikes on back order for up to three months.

Shortages in supplies have also led to cost mark-ups and higher prices for the consumer.

For example, the cost of a 20-pound dumbbell was $20 in March 2020; in September it was $36.

Thomas said there are, in addition to a spin bike, an elliptical, which allows for a full range of motion, and a treadmill.

"Keep your eye out for used equipment," she said. "Even though there is a shortage, there is still used equipment out there if you prefer to be indoors."

There are six simple bodyweight exercises that can be performed at home: squats, lunges, push-ups, forward and sideways plans, and tricep dips Thomas said.

For cardio, one can set up a circuit with a timer and do three sets of each, using a downloaded "Tabata Timer" on a phone, which times the format of the workout, such as squats, push-ups, crunches and jumping jacks, all in one set.

"You can choose another cardio from marching-in place, to 'burpees,' or mountain climbers, depending on your level," Thomas said. "Start with one set and then work up to three. Put together three different circuits done on alternating days, with 10 minutes of marching-in-place or a brisk walk, you can get your 75 minutes of moderate physical activity in a week. It's that easy."

When one is ready to add weights to the exercise, Thomas suggests starting with 3 to 5 pounds, then increasing from there.

She said her personal favorite at home exercise is TRX (Total Resistance Exercises) suspension training.

"You can put it outside around a tree or on a door in the house," Thomas said. "TRX is offering Free workouts on YouTube. This is a great overall workout that really works your core and you can choose workouts based on your level."

If one's budget is low, simple resistance bands can be an affordable option, and come with guides and demonstrations for a full body workout.

"There are lots of options," she said. "If you have been stuck on the couch with little motivation, or feeling overwhelmed with 'COVID-fatigue', start somewhere and get moving today. You will start feeling better, as you start your journey to getting healthier in no time."

Physical Activity Guidelines For Children, Adolescents & Adults

With the variations of exercises, it's helpful to stay within guidelines formulated over time and experience.

Bailey said focusing on proper body movement and control is key.

For children and adults, it's important for them to know how the brain controls the body and movements through mindfulness.

"Mindfulness becomes better awareness, which becomes a better workout," Bailey said. "The mind controls the muscles."

Posture is a significant factor for all age ranges.

While younger people tend to gravitate to more intense workout sessions, Bailey said most of his clients want to experience the feel-good, stress relieving effects that proper exercise delivers.

This includes good nutrition, rest, and using the right combinations of movements throughout the body to promote physical fitness through mindfulness.

It's all about bringing together the pieces of the puzzle that is good fitness, he said.

"In fact, I call myself fitness coach rather than a personal trainer, because, though I am a personal trainer, I like the idea of thinking of being more of a well-rounded coach rather than just a personal trainer who might just count reps," he said. "I'm giving them things to be mindfully aware of, and I give them homework, and I follow up with notes that include suggestions on nutrition and good rest."

Nutrition, recovery, warming-up, proper form, and recovery are pieces of this fitness puzzle.

For kids 8 to 15, it can be as simple as learning those fundamental exercises, such as push-ups, squats, broad jumps, lunges, crunches and planks, Bailey said.

As people get older, one may need more rest between sets and workouts, he said.

For all ages, a gradual, safe progression in stability, strength and overall health should not be overlooked.

Thomas suggested guidelines for strength training exercises that include beginners starting with one set at 15 to 20 reps; intermediate at two to three sets, with eight to 20 reps; and advanced with three to four sets at eight to 20 reps.

For squats, she said, stand with the feet spread shoulder-apart, with the lower back naturally arched.

"Brace your core and hold it throughout the exercise," she said. "Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back, and bending your knees like you are sitting down, then, pause before pushing yourself back up to the starting position."

One can put the hands in front of the body at shoulder level, she said, or hold the arms over the head.

"You can also hold hand weights or things like laundry detergent bottles to add weight," she said.

For basic push-ups, one can position oneself with hands slightly wider than the shoulders, she explained.

"Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head," she said. "Brace your abdominals as if you were about to be punched in the gut, and maintain that contraction for the duration of the exercises. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Tuck your elbows as you lower your body, so that your upper arms form a 45-degree angle with your body in the bottom of the movement. Pause at the bottom and then push yourself back up."

For a modified push-up in the place of performing the exercise with the legs straight, bend the knees and cross the angles behind you, which should help your body form a straight line from head to knees.


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