This is the gym I go to – or rather it’s the one I will go to again as soon as I possibly can. I wrote about how it has changed my life here.
From Gym to Garden to Garage by Jules Parry
On Friday 20th March, around 6pm, the government announced that all pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and GYMS must close. I had a feeling this day would come, so I should have been more emotionally prepared, but my whole world came crashing down. I was in total shock, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt heart broken, I had put my heart and soul into my business, all the members have become friends and it is such a fabulous place that means so much to so many people.
That evening my phone started going crazy with loads of incoming messages from friends, family and studio members.
I didn’t know what to do with myself – so I dyed my hair purple. What else is there to do when the sh*t hits the fan? I have to say that I loved my new purple hair and it certainly distracted me, gave me time to gather my thoughts and plan a way forward.
The next day my husband and I had to figure out YouTube and Facebook live for home workouts for our members. It was nerve wracking, and I was really out of my comfort zone, but it had to be done.
The plan was to film daily workouts at the studio – but then the restrictions increased, and on 23rd March we were only allowed out for essential journeys. So we needed another plan.
Luckily the weather was really hot and dry so the garden became my new fitness studio. We are lucky enough to have a garden big enough for me to do live workouts and the kids could continue playing outside, they were loving what felt like an early start to the summer holidays.
The outside workouts were going well until 10 mins into a workout on day 7 of lockdown. The sun went in and snow and hail started to fall – how crazy the weather can be in Yorkshire! Whilst my husband stood with an umbrella protecting my laptop and phone from the snow, we realised we needed another plan.
We had a double garage that was filled with five years of junk but after some sorting and rearranging we created enough space for a studio.
Once the makeshift studio was ready, and I was more comfortable in delivering the workouts, I was ready to focus on the next issue – home schooling. At this point, the kids hadn’t even opened a school book.
We agreed that they should do school work during usual school hours. The kids set up the dining room as their new class room. They designed and wrote their weekly timetables and stuck them on the wall.
We soon realised that was the easy part – and actually trying to get the kids to knuckle down for seven hours was never going to happen. For all our sakes we had to relax the home schooling regime as it was too stressful. Also, deep down, I have always felt that at school the kids don’t do enough non-academic subjects so thought that this was a great time to do lots of other things such as baking, making lunch, crafts, den building, playing together in the garden. It felt that the most important thing is for the kids to feel happy, safe and secure.
As we are a family of five, pre-lockdown we were always rushing from one place to the next, never having time to just ‘be’ at home and with each other. The kids have cooked lunches, baked cakes, had FaceTime chats with their family and friends. They have their piano and dance lessons via zoom. They have had virtual sleepovers and quizzes with friends.
My hubby and I have got the garden looking summer ready, restored our patio furniture, painted the downstairs of our house. We have quizzes, cocktail nights, karaoke nights, coffee mornings and regular catch ups with friends and family. Some of the friends live hundreds of miles away so we are actually ‘seeing’ them far more now than before!
We’ve been on loads of family walks, camped in the garden, watched films, and eaten together twice a day, every day.
I do have times when I’m feeling down, especially when I start thinking about the thousands that have lost their lives, business that will not survive, the weddings that had to be postponed, the holidays of a lifetime cancelled, when I will get to see my family again… the list goes on.
I have to focus on what good has come out of this. The world is healing, pollution has dropped massively, families are spending time together, people like us are appreciating how lucky we are. We as a family are very lucky and we have so much to be thankful for. I can’t imagine the nightmare that some are currently going though.
Hopefully soon our lives will begin to return to how it used to be; schools will reopen, businesses will trade again and I will be able to reopen the doors to my fitness studio. But until then I will be in the garage, which is my new happy place.
Jules Parry is a 45 year old woman living in the North of England with her husband and three children, two girls and a boy, aged 13, ten and seven. She runs her own business, a group training fitness studio, (YourZone45) in Bingley, West Yorkshire, with over 200 members.
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