Gyms May Not Be Open, but We Can Look Forward to Outdoor Fitness

All of the free outdoor fitness series in Boston we know and love, from Seaport Sweat to the Esplanade's River Fit, will return this year—with a few adjustments due to the pandemic, that is.

Photo provided from a past outdoor fitness series. Expect masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene. Unfortunately, like most things, this will not look the same moving forward.

We’re all getting ready to step out into the so-called “Coronaverse,” although most of us are proceeding with caution. It’s exciting to finally resume some aspects of normal life again, but some things are still on hold. And one of those things is going to the gym.

For the time being, gyms and fitness studios aren’t expected to open until Phase Three of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan. With no clear date released for Phase Three, we’re probably looking at late June or early July at the earliest for gyms reopening. And the risks of gyms are challenging to eliminate. Dr. Eleanor Murray, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of public Health, says transmission of COVID-19 can happen in enclosed spaces when people are in close contact for a short period of time but also when they’re farther apart for a longer amount of time. In a gym, both of these things happen, not to mention all the equipment and surfaces you share with others. “When we’re thinking about harm reduction, we should think about everything we can do to stop transmission,” she says. “Instead of thinking about doing what is less dangerous, we need to avoid all danger, and gathering groups indoors is the most risky thing you can do.”

The good news is, all of Boston’s most loved free outdoor fitness series are brainstorming ways to carry on with regular summer programming under restrictions and regulations made special by the pandemic. With new, clearly outlined guidelines around outdoor recreational activity, the groups should be releasing updates on their plans any time now.

And when they do come back, you can expect some familiar looking guidelines. Since most outdoor fitness series take place in parks and other communal spaces, expect to abide by the state following guidelines:

  • Allowed activities: walking, hiking, biking, running, and other fitness activities
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others
  • Walkers and hikers should move aside for others on trails
  • Sanitize hands after visiting public spaces
  • Masks should be worn if social distancing cannot be maintained

Like I said, details aren’t final yet, but here’s what we know so far about your favorite outdoor fitness programs:

Seaport Sweat: Starting June 1, Seaport Sweat will be virtual every weekday, and select Saturdays, via the Seaport’s Instagram page @seaportbos. When it is safe to do so, the series will move outdoors.

Some of the instructors and classes (times and dates still subject to change) joining the lineup this year include:

  • Former Patriot’s cheerleaders Jenn Azarian and Alanna Perry will teach barre and a dance class called Sculpt that sASS on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., respectively
  • Broncore Bootcamp with Bron Volney
  • Vinyasa Yoga with Blair Flynn
  • Kick It By Eliza with Eliza Shirazi
  • New classes include: Zumba with Calvin Braxton and Athletic Conditioning with Michael Soares
  • A special noon time Align and Flow with Dr. Jess Moy

Boston Parks Summer Fitness Series: The Boston Parks fitness series will be virtual for the month of June and then after reevaluating, will start offering classes in select parks across Boston. The series is scheduled to take place until September.

Esplanade River Fit: Things are still taking shape for the Esplanade’s summer programming, but the organization does plan to run some type of fitness offerings as usual. From June 1-June 7, you can take part in a virtual 5k to benefit the Esplanade. The association is also planning to host a dance series with dance classes from Froca Dance, Trillfit, BollyX, AfroBeat, and Boss Chick Workout.

Greenway Fitness Series: The Greenway Conservancy is working to solidify a schedule that abides by government regulations, and in the meantime, the organization is hosting an initiative called Bring the Greenway Home which includes access to the Conservancy’s social media channels to take part in different activations and resources, plus to find fitness experiences with the Conservancy’s fitness partners.

While small fitness businesses and local studios may pine for reopening, fitness lovers will have to settle for a couple more weeks of outdoor fitness.  “Yes, exercise is good and stress reduction is good,” Murray says. “But there’s tradeoff between what is improvements to health and threats to the virus. In terms of public health, we’re thinking about these tradeoffs and the goal is to minimize the harm and maximize the benefit. Things like yoga and pilates in a park is a much safer thing to do to reduce risk right now.”

To get a sense of what the outdoor fitness series’ were like last year, check out our Ultimate Guide to Free Outdoor Fitness in Boston.