Sofie Paternite, Sports Co-Editor

It’s no secret that the global pandemic has led many people to pursue activities and hobbies they are passionate about. Whether it’s quitting the repetitive 9-5 job, starting a jewelry business, or spending more time being active, almost everyone began or continued to craft their niche. Arguably, the most popular activity during COVID-19 is exercise, as people have more time on their hands and dedicate more time and energy to staying in shape. Pelotons have become very popular, Blink Fitness in South Orange is a bustling hub, and lots of people in Maplewood and South Orange are becoming more creative everyday in pursuing various forms of physical activity. 

James Griffis ’21 lifting at Blink Fitness Photo by: L. Gross

Marley Striem, ‘22, said, “I joined Blink because I wanted to exercise and go on runs during the off season of soccer.” Ben Fisher, ‘21, added, “I joined at first to get stronger for basketball… I workout with friends half the time and alone half the time.” 

Columbia High School (CHS) students often congregate at Blink Fitness right after school, lifting weights and doing cardio for hours on end. According to a desk employee at Blink Fitness in South Orange, the usual CHS crowd has returned to normalcy since they reopened at limited capacity in Sep. 2020. 

Especially after an increase in COVID-19 vaccines, more students at CHS feel comfortable going to Blink without fear of contracting the virus. Nevertheless, people maintain appropriate distance and machines are cleaned in between uses. According to their website, Blink has also adjusted their hours and reduced their full capacity to 50%. Their blog also mentions that Blink staff always ensures that their facilities will be “clean and friendly.”

With the increase in COVID-19 vaccine rollout, students at CHS are even more dedicated to their gym schedule. “I joined Blink once my high-risk parent was half vaccinated,” Striem added. “Everyone is very mask compliant and sanitary, and I am mostly surrounded by other CHS students which leads me to being in the same circles of people I see outside of the gym.” Fisher felt the same way as Striem, saying, “I don’t feel unsafe.”

However, students who are not members of Blink and do have access to other athletic opportunities are thriving in their own way. Pelotons have become common household equipment to stay in shape, and according to CNBC, Peleton’s sales skyrocketed to an astonishing 232% as of Nov. 2020. Grace Umiker, ‘21, said, “I love the Peloton because it is a way to make working out fun. There are so many different instructors and class types so working out is always interesting.” She added, “You can workout whenever you want and have privacy.” 

Those who do not have access to at-home or public gyms but are still determined to be active have taken it upon themselves to go on more local runs, spend time hiking in the South Mountain Reservation and engage in many other activities. Striem said, “Occasionally, I will go to Underhill or the Reservoir with friends.”

Regardless of what form of physical exercise you might be looking to pursue or where you want to do it, a lot of the CHS student body is right there with you. Staying in shape is a great outlet for reducing stress, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making friends. 

Design by: Sydney Mannion