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The push to look and feel good is real.

Even in the face of a pandemic, those who strive to be healthy and fit have found a way to maintain workouts and physical routines.

“I go (to the gym) to get healthier and stay in shape,” said Debi Kowall Sands of Monessen, who works out at Planet Fitness in Rostraver. “It’s extremely important to me to get the workouts in.”

Sands focuses her work out on free weights, the elliptical machine and a few other stations.

When the fitness center was shut down because of the pandemic, she worked out at home as Planet Fitness provided workouts via Facebook.

“I was able to do some type of workouts at home,” Sands said. “The Facebook workouts worked and Planet Fitness also helped by providing some online live workouts. I did some work at home and have some weights I use.”

Canonsburg resident Zach Bowman, who is an assistant wrestling coach for Canon-McMillan High School, has been working out since he was 15-years-old.

His gyms of choice are the Planet Fitness in Washington and LA Fitness.

Bowman, 34, works out five days a week.

“I continue to want to stay in shape,” Bowman said. “I have a wrestler’s mentality. I want to be in shape, look good and feel good — really just to be healthy.”

Bowman works with the weights, does a lot of cardio work and makes use of steppers and other equipment.

“Working out reduces the risk of heart problems or heart disease and other medical issues,” Bowman said. “I think it’s important to keep yourself in shape.”

When the fitness centers were closed, Bowman said he worked out with a couple Big Macs wrestlers in the basement.

“We continued some workouts, I trained them while I continued to train,” he said. “It helped them and myself through. It made things a little better. We had what we needed.”

Staying in shape and achieving better health is a huge aspect of going to a fitness or wellness center. Socialization also is a part of the plan for some.

Will Schooley, of Washington, has not returned to the “gym” since they were shut down in March and reopened in June. That hasn’t changed his zeal for working out, just the manner in which he works it in to his daily schedule as he works from home.

He had worked out at Planet Fitness in Washington before the pandemic took hold.

“I worked out for physical wellness,” Schooley said. “But there is a social component to it as well.

“I’m doing my workouts from home. I just haven’t gone back yet because I didn’t feel it was worth the risks. I do miss working out at the gym. I’ve been able to maintain my workouts and a good physical condition.”

Schooley said while he is a proponent of wearing masks in the public, he is leery of wearing them while working out.

“I am concerned about heat exhaustion, wearing them while working out, Schooley said. “It’s not worth the risk.”

Schooley, 25, said he lifts weights six days a week and works in three days of cardio.

Unlike the continuity and routine of gym workouts, he admits, he may do sets at a different pace and rate while at home.

“I have a lot of (remote) meetings and I work the physical conditioning in between meetings sometimes, he said. “As long as I get the reps and sets in that I normally do, I’m OK with it. There’s just a lot more of working out at home and running the streets.”

Marna McCormick-Hicks, a Washington resident in her 60s, works out at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center and Spa in Washington.

Prior to the pandemic, she worked out there five days a week. She now limits herself to between two and three swimming days a week.

The reduction is a response to the re-opening and continues concerns about COVID-19.

However, she missed the physical activity and the socialization part of working out at the wellness center and is enjoying the re-opening last month.

“I’ve always felt it’s important to be in shape and I always like the socializing that comes with going to a wellness or fitness center,” she said. “I really missed that. I miss talking with my friends.

“Attendance has been down. But it seems like it’s picking up a little bit. I know they are starting some classes and thing like that. I hope it continues to pick up.”

Fitness and wellness centers were not impacted by Gov. Tom Wolf’s new guidelines announced Wednesday.

That’s good news for those who are frequent patrons.

“From what I was reading, I knew it might be a possibility gym may close again,” Bowman said.

“I know the attendance hasn’t been the same and everyone is required to wear a mask,” McCormick-Hicks said. “I switched to just swimming because I’m not totally comfortable yet.”

Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can contact Chris Slota at 724-225-1326 or by email at chris@belocal.net. Discount cards are available at the Observer-Reporter and Almanac office, 122 S. Main St., Washington.

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