<br/><br/>“I cannot explain how much I miss dancing and working out in the gym. The relief I felt when the trainer shouted, 'it's the last set.' However, working out at home has been so much fun. It made me realize that a pandemic like Covid-19 can never be an excuse to not work out. Still sometimes lack of motivation and equipment make me miss my gym training,” said Anisha, a graphic designer from Pune.

As the nationwide lockdown forced people like Anisha indoors, the gym was quickly relegated to a list of things possible in a pre-pandemic world. The virus that causes Covid-19 spreads more easily in indoor spaces, and gyms - with heavy breathing, shared equipment, and sweat as people work out close to each other - are considered a high-risk environment for virus spread. Even as the economy reopens, gyms - the world over - are the last to resume operations. This has forced people to take their fitness and well-being into their own hands.

According to Shalini, a nutritionist based in Delhi, "In the initial period of the lockdown, people took a break from everything but as time passed, most -- say 50-70% people including senior citizens -- became more conscious of their health. As far as I have experienced, people are putting more effort in self-care, making good food and changing their lifestyle for a healthier well being, immunity and weight control. Covid-19 has made them efficient in terms of cooking and managing the overall housework.” Shalini runs multiple health and weight loss clinics across Delhi.

For Shivangi, a mom of two and a social media influencer, this lockdown has proved to be a blessing in disguise. She told The Citizen “My fitness regime has definitely improved. There are no social commitments due to which I have achieved consistency. We are not having outside food, so my calorie intake is low.”

On the other hand, for Harsh, a 21-year-old B-tech student, Covid-19 made him lose his gains which he worked hard on before lockdown. “As no equipment was available, it was very difficult for me to workout. I am a power-lifter, due to improper diet I have lost my gains. My stamina has decreased and the lockdown has made it very difficult for me to maintain my fitness."

But even Harsh has been forced to adapt. As people were pushed indoors, gyms and fitness centers started offering online classes, and virtual personal training sessions. Fitness enthusiasts uploaded routines and exercises, with a host of at-home workouts popping up on Instagram.

"People are proactive and understanding of the market change. They are accepting PT and online classes as a great way to workout. We don't see any decline in the number of members," said Apoorv Agarwal, the head of North Zone for Cure-fit’s dance department.

In fact, many who did not work out regularly, have taken to a fitness routine - especially as more time became available. According to Arushi, an architect, “Doing one workout in a day somewhere gives you a positive start. Otherwise it is a boring gloomy day. This prolonged lockdown has definitely taken a toll on me on some days and I think that's when a workout kind of uplifts my spirits."

"Workout has kept me sane during this time. When I work out it is 'my' time. It has helped me greatly in getting rid of lockdown stress," said Shivangi.

While Samkit, a Delhi University student added, "Being a basketball player. I used to go out every day and play but now being stuck at home irritates me. Online classes on fitness apps have helped me uplift my mood which in turns maintains my mental stability."

Sonam, a 47-year-old homemaker, finds exercise as an escape from an otherwise boring schedule. She said “Sometimes I felt low, I felt alone. But these exercises have kept me moving. They keep me going through this hard time. For my mental well being I practice yoga and meditation."

Thanks to the ample time this lockdown has provided, people have become more conscious of their fitness, their strength and immunity. Mihika a diabetic educator in Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Delhi told The Citizen. "People with diseases are trying to take care of themselves. They are following a healthy lifestyle and more people have become more careful and precautious related to their health."

Home-workouts and home-cooked meals are becoming the new normal. However, people are still missing outdoor training and many say they are ready to go back to a gym or outdoor space.

Gautam, a 44-year-old businessman said, "Working out at home has its limitations like constraint of space and non availability of equipment. Also, when you have too much time at hand you tend to keep delaying things."

For others, it’s the social aspect of fitness that a gym brings. Ishita, a makeup-artist, says she misses the vibe of her gym. Sonam misses her chit chat sessions and the healthy competition with her workout buddies.

"Some people do not have access to live classes. I will give an example of myself, being a national level boxer, I used to train with my teammates in the stadium but due to the lockdown, we cannot go. We miss the motivation we used to get from each other. Same happens at the gym, the motivation you get from the trainers and other people working out keeps you motivated and moving even when you get tired. Online classes were a challenge for us. But each day, we are getting better. Fitness at home has become the new normal but people still miss going to the gym," said Hemant Kumar, national level boxer and a professional boxing trainer.

From targeting the goal of a five minute plank to practicing difficult poses of yoga, workouts have helped people pass their time. The lockdown has provided people the opportunity to prioritise their health, which often took a backseat in the humdrum of life.

Anju, a nutritionist based in Delhi stated, "90% percent of people associated with my clinic have committed themselves to stay healthy and fit even during lockdown. I am providing my clients specialized plans with a workout routine."

“I, myself thought that my fitness routine would be hampered in the lockdown. But I have been trying different workout formats. From practicing yoga to doing ‘Chloe Ting shred challenge’, lockdown has made me realize that fitness is a choice we have to make. With a lot of self-motivation and effort I have tried to be more regular and consistent than before.”

"COVID-19 has affected all of us in negative as well as positive ways. There are people who are dealing with severe anxiety issues whereas on the other hand some are focusing on the good," said Mahima, a nutritionist.

Ayushi added, "I hope this lockdown leaves everybody fit and healthy.” She told The Citizen that, whether we achieve our fitness goals at home or at the gym, health should always be our priority. After all, “health is wealth” Ayushi concluded.