With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing governments to enact social-distancing and self-isolation regulations, disrupting day-to-day workout routines and causing anxiety, Guam’s athletes remained cooped up in their homes.
But as fitness facilities and public training venues remain closed, gym owners opened their hearts and minds, many offering daily online workouts for their members.
Caleb Barretto, managing partner and program director of Unified, acknowledges that an exercise cyber-trend is taking the island by storm.
Unified, located behind the ITC Building in Tamuning, normally has more than 200 fitness-conscious members attend daily workouts. But with mandated islandwide gym closures, the facility remains closed. And as stress and anxiety mount over the new coronavirus, now, more than ever before, Guam needs to blow off steam and get its sweat on.
Keeping up with the evolution of exercise in a time of self-isolation, Unified has developed an innovative platform called “Unified Anywhere,” daily recorded videos that provide its members with workouts. In the videos, workouts are set, goals identified, and ideas offered with how to modify household items into weights and workout apparatuses.
For those without imagination or easily convertible goods, Unified has created a loaner program, allowing members to check out dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, jump ropes and other equipment.
“We were thinking of how we can serve our members and found many didn’t have the equipment,” said Barretto, who recommends using common household items such as water jugs as a replacement for weights and kettlebells.
Joseph Devenecia, who is participating in the gym’s loaner program, is thankful Unified offered the option.
“The equipment loan program and 'Unified Anywhere' routines will help me stay fit and healthy in both mind and body,” Devenecia said. “An exercise routine helps me deal with the emotional stress of these times.
“It’s the one constant in my daily routine that I have control over.”
Centered around a unique culture of encouragement through social interaction, Barretto believes it is important to keep members engaged while trying to hit their goals.
“One thing that keeps our members coming back is the social aspect,” he said. “They want to come to the gym, and they don’t look at it as like a chore, and the fitness is the byproduct of showing up every day.
“They use the gym as their outlet.”
With interpersonal engagement taking the backseat to curb the number of COVID-19 outbreaks, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Unified’s clientele still desire social interaction as they strive to meet their goals.
The daily routines are also a healthy distraction from the news.
“The daily workout coach Caleb emails us has helped me reduce my stress level by shifting my focus on something else other than this plague,” said Maggie Fausto, a Unified member.
“Exercise is more than just physical, it’s therapeutic,” added Amy Aguigui, who, like the rest of the island, is forced to stay indoors, albeit for trips to the grocery store and other allowable sojourns. “As we are all stuck at home, keeping a routine with your exercise regimen is important, not only for you physically, but for your mental sanity as well.
“Cabin fever is in full force, and this is one way to break the day.”
Jordan Pauluhn, a Unified member, said the workouts are how he keeps "a sense of normal during this abnormal experience.”
On Guam, with COVID-19 cases rising and one death, experts have indicated a possible health care crisis could be on the horizon. With the likelihood of the island’s hospitals hitting critical mass if the virus isn’t contained, Unified member Reggie Obispo recognizes the importance of staying in shape and remaining strong.
“I’m working out because it’s important for me to practice a healthy lifestyle by getting some fresh air and sun,” he said. “I feel like exercising will strengthen my immune system.”
For Jane Jones, she feels the pandemic-based isolation will have a negative effect on mental well-being.
“The seclusion many of us are experiencing can lead us to wilt like a flower,” she said. “Staying physically active daily can stimulate us mentally and spiritually (and) produces hormones that stimulate our brains, which in turn stimulates the spirit.”
Keeping the gym’s social aspect at the center of "Unified Anywhere," Baretto encourages its members to post online workout pictures and videos.
Jessica Villaverde, a Unified member, said the online platform allows her and others a venue to “vent or complain about how hard the workout was.”
We appreciate you all so much for doing everything you can possibly do to help us stay healthy, fit and sane, she said.
“It’s a wonderful community that I now refer to as my fit-family,” she added.
To become a Unified member and join “Unified Anywhere,” email firstname.lastname@example.org.