Kathy Carey decided to shift her focus when the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined her fitness business one year ago.

She has taught classes for 36 years, most recently out of the Blue Sky Studio. But with the health restrictions limiting class sizes, she opted to halt classes and focus more on herself using a Peloton bike, an exercise company that offers online workout sessions.

Carey said she is motivated by group fitness settings – and that finding a remote option has been a boon for her in the pandemic.

“I call it my COVID saviour,” Carey said. “You don’t see people, but you feel the same sort of connection. It’s very motivating … You have to find what works for you and you need a support system.”

The pandemic and repeated shutdowns have pushed the fitness world online, with more people turning toward remote learning. Gyms have frequently been closed or limited during the province’s three shutdowns, leaving people stuck at home for fitness.

Haliburton Yoga is a provider that transitioned online – something owner Lynda Shadbolt said she intends to continue after the pandemic. She said despite the hurdles, it has been a successful venture and allowed her to attract students from a wide range of places.

“It keeps me motivated because if I didn’t have people to teach and plan for, I wouldn’t do it,” Shadbolt said. “I need the community; I need the connection.”

Carey said there are plenty of online programs out there for people to keep fit in the latest shutdown and beyond. She said fitness is important to help both mental and physical wellbeing, but it can be difficult for people to get started in the current environment.

“The biggest problem is that people that have done nothing in so far as exercise,” she said. “Fear can be paralyzing, and it can be physically so hurtful and mentally hurtful … Do things, small goals and if you don’t have a bike or a treadmill and don’t have any money to invest in fitness, go out and walk. Get out the door.”

Shadbolt said Haliburtonians benefit from all the outdoor space that exists in the area.

“We are so lucky to live where we are. We have fresh air,” Shadbolt said. “If nothing else, just get outside.”

But the yoga instructor said there are also strong health benefits to finding an online group to work with.

“That is so important to our wellbeing because I think people are feeling cut off,” Shadbolt said.

“Having a practice of learning to stay in the present moment is, I think, really essential, because our minds can take us down so many negative things right now and that’s really not helpful.”

“No one is going to do it for us, and we all have to find that motivation,” Carey said. “Whatever it is, you just try to start gradually and make it achievable.”

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