Melissa Blanchard was once in a trap many Canadians catch themselves in – living an inactive lifestyle, eating unhealthy foods, and to top it off; paying for a gym membership she wasn’t using. That all changed for Melissa after a run in with a health issue made her want to change her life style and get into the benefits of fitness. 

“I developed gallstones, and had to have my gall bladder removed. When I got home from the hospital to begin my 4-week recovery, I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw. I already had the gym membership, so I decided then and there it was time to make a change and start using it once I was back on my feet.” 

And use it she did. Ten years later, Melissa has made fitness an integral part of her life, and has taken huge steps toward a healthier lifestyle. 

“I started learning about nutrition and eating better food choices. I decided to get a GoodLife personal trainer who taught me a lot about exercise, and I’ve been able to use what I learned to develop my own workout routines.” 

Going to the gym became therapeutic for Melissa, and she found herself enjoying and even craving difficult activities like the stair climber to work off stress and get the endorphins flowing. 

She says she was in the best shape of her life before COVID-19 shut down the gyms. When pandemic-related stress and anxiety began to set in, she didn’t have the gym to turn to for support.

I won’t sugar-coat it – the pandemic has been really tough on me. I noticed pretty quickly that clothes weren’t fitting the same, and while I tried to catch up on what I lost with walks, that became more difficult as the weather got colder.

As Melissa’s physical and mental health continued to deteriorate, she decided she would try her best to recapture as much of that passion for fitness as she could. She bought some weights, installed a squat rack and multi-purpose bench, and she began creating at-home workout routines she could use to get her mind and body back on track. 

While Melissa was able to use some of what she learned at the gym to improve her at-home fitness, she says nothing will compare to the environment and equipment she misses from clubs. 

“The gym is that ‘second space’ I think we all need. Working out at home means I’m exercising in the same place I relax in, and that community feeling just isn’t there. I wish more than anything I could go back to exercising in a club where I feel safe and fulfilled.” 

While the past year has been disheartening for so many people, Melissa says it helps to remember that we’re all in this together, and that setbacks don’t have to be permanent. 

“If you’ve gained weight or are feeling discouraged or disconnected from fitness, that’s OK. We’ve all lost something this year, but it’s only temporary. We’re all in the same boat and we’ll be able to come back stronger soon.” 

The pandemic has been full of challenges and triumphs for our Members and Associates, especially in areas where gyms have faced frequent and lengthy closures.  

Throughout June and July, we'll be using our channels to share your stories. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you missed most about gyms being closed during the pandemic and how it impacted your health. How did you adapt your fitness routine and what are you looking forward to most when Clubs re-open? 

Please submit your story here