Saturday, January 16, 2021

Gyms Embrace Outdoor Workouts During Coronavirus Pandemic

After years of planning, Erin Ayres opened her studio, Yoga on C, in the beginning of July. About a week later, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state mandate forcing her to shut down. Now she’s taking advantage of Coronado city council’s decision to allow gyms and fitness businesses to hold workouts in city-owned outdoor spaces. Ayres holds yoga classes everyday at 10 am in Spreckels Park. 

“Being able to be together in the park, it’s uplifted us,” Ayres said. “Even though we’re 6 feet apart, we’re together.” 

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Yoga on C is offering yoga classes every morning at Spreckels Park. Photo courtesy of Erin Ayres.

She heard from word of mouth that the city was offering free commercial permits for gyms to use Spreckels Park, Bradley Field or the beach. She jumped at the opportunity, sending Mayor Bailey a message on social media. Within three days, she was approved to start teaching at Spreckels Park. Although it’s not the same as being in the studio, her clients are happy to be outside. 

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“They’re so positive, so upbeat, so lovely,” Ayres said. “They talk about how much they love the sunshine and the breeze. [During quarantine] you forget how beautiful it is to be around each other.” 

Before the city approved parks for commercial use, Ayres was teaching classes via Instagram Live twice a day. Her home setup was improvised; she says she took an I-pad, balanced it on her 4-year-old daughter’s chair and just started filming. 

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be on Instagram filming myself for the world to see,” Ayres said. 

Although the transition was difficult, she thinks the shutdown actually allowed for more people to try out yoga, from the comfort of their homes. Her practice has been particularly helpful during these uncertain times. 

“Yoga helps our mind, our body and our spirit,” Ayres said. “A lot has been taken away. For me, I’m realizing how much small things in life are amplified.”

In the fall, Ayres plans to continue sharing her love of yoga by organizing a teacher training course through the Yoga Alliance. 

Another local gym, Sweat Equity, has also taken to the outdoors to continue serving the community. The owners have created a makeshift gym in their parking lot.

“We are just so grateful to have the opportunity to stay open in a capacity that allows us to deliver a great product that our clients really enjoy and help be a bright spot in their days,” owner Liz Merrill said.

She and her husband say the transition has come with some challenges, but their clients have been very supportive. 

“We needed to come up with new programming for our circuit style workouts, and get a smooth process of moving the gym equipment out every morning and in every night but overall we were able to pull it off without missing a day of workouts,” Merrill said. 

Like Ayres, she hopes that people embrace being active as a way to cope during the pandemic. 

“Being overweight has been proven to be a huge pre-existing condition to people who are getting really sick and dying from Covid,” Merill said. “The fitness community could be a huge factor in helping Americans stay healthy in general, but especially in times like this.”

Yoga on C
Yoga on C Facebook Page
176 C Avenue, Coronado

Sweat Equity Facebook Page
1007 Isabella Avenue, Coronado


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Tyra Wu
Tyra Wu
Tyra is a multimedia journalist with several years of experience. She has worked at various news organizations including Fox 5 San Diego, KPBS and The Coast News. She is also a student at SDSU studying journalism.Tyra grew up in Carlsbad and is excited to be reporting on another coastal community. She is particularly interested in reporting on issues of race, diversity and education. When she's not working you can find her surfing, hiking or hanging out with her dog, Hachi.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: