NOT LYING IDLE Gym owner Shane Warde (left) pictured with David Morrin recently after they raised €19,000 for Pieta House through an endurance event.
FOR gym owners, January can be a busy month as the New Year Resolutioners embark on their ‘New Year, New Me’ fitness journeys in the hope of shedding the few extra pounds they might have added over Christmas.
But this time around, the first month of the year looks a bit different for Shane Warde, owner of NCC Fitness in Cong. He can no longer welcome his regulars or prospective new members through his doors; instead, it’s back to the grind of Zoom fitness classes.
He’s now in his third week of online classes and his one-to-one personal training, and he’s encouraged by a really positive response from clients, with 90 percent of his clientele gained through Zoom classes. It comes on the back of a busy schedule leading to Christmas. However, Level 5 restrictions saw that being cut short. Still, Warde has seen the huge appetite for working out continue throughout the year.
“We got a good run of about two months of classes before Christmas,” the 32 year old told The Mayo News. “It was different, certainly, because it’s very hard to tell adults to stand apart from each other in the gym – they’re not kids, but it had to be done.
“I’m lucky that I have plenty of room here in the gym at The Neale GAA Club … we could limit people moving around during their hour and we followed all the guidelines diligently.
“So I was booked up for the whole time and had to cut it off. People would book for the month and they’d never miss a session for fear they would lose their slot. It was going really well and everyone was very happy … there was a lot of sad faces when the announcement came that we were closing.”
Toughest lockdown yet
Although this isn’t the first time gym goers have been locked out, Shane noticed a different emotion this time around when the announcements came.
“I think there was a bit of anger, as opposed to disappointment,” he said. “A lot of people were just so fed up with everything, be it the winter and the dark evenings, and people were a lot more down in the dumps.
“It was different in the summer when people could go outside because the weather was so good. For a lot of people the gym is people’s one hour of the day where they can come in and blow out the system, whatever is in their heads they can clear it by giving it socks in the gym for an hour and you see that all the time.
“So this [lockdown] has been tough.”
The Neale native acknowledged that the entire industry is also struggling in such uncertain times, with bigger gyms having large overheads, such as rent, hanging over them. He feels that it will be March before they might be able to get back to some form of normal structure in terms of classes.
With so much uncertainty lingering for 2021, Shane believes that health and fitness is more important than ever and wanted to urge people to get out and get moving.
“People don’t know what is around the corner and there’s a lot of financial worry out there for people,” he said. “So I think fitness and exercise is vital for mental health in today’s society, especially with Covid-19.
“People are experiencing job losses, financial stresses and increased anxiety. It’s important to get out in nature and fresh air and to go for walks, jogs, cycles or hikes, within your 5k limit of course.
“That might not be possible for everyone, we’re lucky to be living in an area like Cong that allows it. It’s about making do with what you have.
“I encourage people to buy some basic equipment for my classes if they can afford it, a kettle bell or dumbbell for example, but I also see some people with milk cartons full of stones. People will always adapt!
“And I always say, no matter how bad things get, just ‘keep her lit’ because there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
WARDE’S FITNESS TIP
“A simple tip I give clients is to plan the night before and write a goal down. It could be to get 10,000 steps, eat a healthy breakfast, or do a 30-minute walk. It’s something to keep that mind active.”