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Vienna fitness studio owner offers advice for outdoor exercise

Body Sculpting

Many fitness classes that normally would have been held inside gyms were transformed into outdoor classes due to coronavirus-related restrictions on group activities indoors.

Even though the weather has turned colder, those classes have continued without many issues.

“You get moving and you forget about how cold it is,” said Joann Meginley, owner of Grass Roots Fitness in Vienna, Virginia.

Meginley’s outdoor classes have been going off without a hitch, at least until a winter storm hit the D.C. region on Wednesday.

“We show up as long as it’s not raining, snowing or ice,” she said.

Now her classes that would normally be held outside are temporarily being held virtually with her members following along online in the comfort of their own homes.

However, they will be back outside soon as the ice and snow melt away.

“If you wear the right clothes you can work out in really cold weather,” Meginley said. “It works well if you know how to dress.”

Fitness places and yoga studios across the U.S. have been offering online classes, some free of charge, or extending trial periods for at-home workouts, since the pandemic started.

According to Meginley, people who exercise outside during the winter should wear a hat and layers that can removed if they get too hot. Meginley said she prefers mittens rather than gloves because fingers generate more heat when they are not separated from each other by fabric.

For those who don’t want to be outside in the cold — or around other people during the pandemic — Meginley said virtual classes or using workout videos at home are still beneficial.

“It’s important, especially right now for our physical and mental health, to find a program that works,” she said.

Some people have been creative, grabbing bleach bottles as makeshift weights, or taking cues from YouTube challenges showing how to do crunches with furniture or turn a kitchen floor into a treadmill by soaping up the tiling.


Interview with Joann Meginley on WTOP

As Northern Virginia enters the first phase of lifting coronavirus restrictions, fitness centers are reopening for in-person exercise.

But there is still a big difference for people who want to get out of the house and go work out: Fitness classes must be outdoors and in small groups.

“We have been closed since March 13,” said Joann Meginley, owner of Grass Roots Fitness in Vienna, Virginia. “We’re excited to get back seeing our members because we miss that community feel.”

Meginley offered online classes while she was shut down.

“What we have done going into Phase I is survey our members to find out how comfortable they are coming back to classes,” Meginley said. “We are able to offer our classes outside so that helps a lot.”

Still, Meginley said, some of her clients are not comfortable doing in-person exercise at this time.

In an effort to include everyone, Meginley will continue offering online classes as well as in-person classes.

Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County joined the rest of the state Friday in starting Phase I. Those areas delayed reopening after local officials expressed concerns that their jurisdictions weren’t yet ready.

Most of Virginia began the first phase of a gradual reopening on May 15. Retail stores have reopened with limited capacity, but indoor gyms remain closed and restaurants are prohibited from offering dine-in service except for in outdoor spaces.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday that current coronavirus-related trends are “encouraging,” but more data is needed before the state can start the second phase of reopening.

“We want to be very careful and deliberate as we move forward,” Northam said.

The governor has previously indicated that the second phase of reopening would allow for social gatherings of no more than 50 people. He also has said he would loosen other restrictions in Phase II, but hasn’t provided specific details.


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