Thank you Lily for sharing this with me. Lily is 17 years old. Read her beautifully written words.

With Mental health being affected by the 3 lockdowns, we need to weigh the consequences. At this stage with 60% of Ontario being vaccinated – our closure makes no sense! We can keep our community safe in our training facility. With small classes of 10 in a 7500 square foot space, we were able to do so when we’ve been allowed to open during the past 15 months. Doug Ford has turned against gyms and small training facilities, with many closing their doors permanently. For our mental and Physical health we need to be allowed to reopen!

Now here from our very own Lily:

The COVID-19 pandemic has made life challenging with mental health challenges at an all time high. Part of the problem is that COVID-19 has made it more difficult to exercise because of the lack of space and equipment at home and long, repeated lockdowns.

There is space and equipment at the gym that is impossible to get at home. For example, many garages or decks are too small for a barbell, plates, and squat rack. In addition to a lack of space, fitness equipment is expensive and difficult to find. A lack of equipment at home has caused the workouts to sometimes become repetitive, because there is a much narrower variety of exercises to choose from. This is especially hard right now because it is the third time in a year that gyms have been shut down. It is difficult to find the motivation to repeat the same few movements and workouts. For example, on May 19, I did a limited equipment, virtual version of the girl workout Barbara for the third time: the first being last spring and the second in February of this year. This third lockdown has been especially tough for finding the motivation to continue working out at home. Everyone is tired of having to readjust to virtual classes, especially for athletes who have beaten personal bests this year, including myself. There is a sense of community that CrossFit athletes have with experiencing gruelling workouts and personal bests in the same space as the other athletes.

Virtual classes have eliminated most of the opportunities to feel a sense of community, because everyone is on a screen and there are far fewer personal records that everyone in the class can celebrate together.

For me, coming to the box is a way to de-stress, because I get an intense workout and an opportunity to socialize with the amazing community at CrossFit Pickering. Social interactions with fellow athletes have been especially important during the pandemic, because of the current school schedule making socialization with my peers difficult.

In addition to the community and the increased variety of workouts, going to the gym allows athletes to improve skills with powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting classes. These skills classes allow athletes to lift more safely by improving their form and helping them find what works best to optimize strength. Athletes have small differences in form for lifting weights based on anatomy and past injuries. For example, I have a relatively wide squat and deadlift stance because I have long legs compared to the rest of my body. Locating these key differences between athletes with skills classes is important for injury prevention as well as increasing strength. Without skills classes and the coaches keeping a close eye on the athletes in the same room, virtual classes increase an athlete’s risk of injury due to poor form.

In conclusion, going to the gym is as important for mental as for physical health since virtual classes lack the variety of movements, take away from the community aspect of CrossFit, and remove opportunities to improve your form.  That being said, they are better than nothing at all so I appreciate the commitment from the coaches and other athletes that attend.

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