Back to the gym: A reentry into fitness limbo

I grew up as the perpetual last kid picked in gym class. It took me until my thirties before I could even call myself physically active. I did make fitness a way of life despite my gym class baggage. The pandemic did knock me off course a bit. A nap on the couch went from a (just temporary) end-of-the-business-day treat to a month’s long lousy habit as the pandemic dragged on in my local area.

Changing post-pandemic gym demographics

Going to a gym in my local area means working out with a range of folks. Military. Ex-military. Government employees. Government contractors. It was just a given that local gyms would have a middle-aged vibe. It was always familiar and comfortable, especially when I was serious about spinning class and circuit training.

Funny, but post-pandemic my gym began to resemble a high school physical education class. The groups of young teenage girls have no appeal at my advanced age. Nor do memories of high school gym class flooding back again sit with me all that well.

Post-pandemic gym community TBD

Some gyms and exercise studios in my area met unfortunate ends during the pandemic. I still hope that some of the feelings of the community would return to the gym as my local area relaxed the mask mandate. Although, it may never return.

For so long, I realized that I needed the accountability of a gym community to make myself work out.

While I had many gym friends — people I was friends within the context of the gym — especially when I was in a circuit training class. So many people didn’t return to the gym, even down to many familiar faces I saw every time but didn’t know their names when I was working out at the gym pre-pandemic.

Joy and my post-pandemic workout

Pre-pandemic, the gym was a natural break in my day. When I was working an office job, I went there after work. Then I went home for the evening. When I was working at home, it was a prompt for me to leave the house, then change gears for the evening. I’ve felt the loss of that acutely during the pandemic except for a sliver of possibility I saw before the Delta variant reared its ugly head.

My gym may indeed be dying a slow death, or it’s crawling to a rebirth. I just can’t say.

I was fond of saying that the gym was my happy place. Now I’m working on making exercise my happy place regardless of where I’m working out.

I hold out hope that someday my gym will feel normal again. It took the pandemic to show me that I took my pre-pandemic gym community for granted. The Peloton App and Schwinn stationary bike continue to redefine my workouts now. My long hoped reentry to the gym is now in limbo because of the Delta variant. Then again, I read 46.67 % of gym members may never return. It’s time I adjust my reentry into the gym to the current reality.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical marketer and former technical writer. My areas of interest include the cloud, DevOps, and cybersecurity. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Will Kelly

Will Kelly

Product marketer and writer | Learn more about me at