After two years of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake County gyms are entering the new year with their doors open and people working to become a better version of themselves.

What’s different is going to the gym isn’t about breaking your butt just to sweat. Instead, people have started to prioritize their health better, taking a more holistic approach, which includes working with personal trainers and different personalized programs.

“We were originally a CrossFit gym, and when I got there we became a transformational gym,” said Michael Cedeno, owner of Dukes Dumbbell Club in the village of Perry. “People didn’t quite realize who we were and thought we were just a CrossFit gym, but we are so much more than that. We take care of nutrition, strength training, personal fitness and cardio.

Cedeno, who also works as a personal trainer, opened Dukes in 2021 after the first COVID hit. The biggest challenge when trying to attract customers was to tackle the “old gym stigma”.

Yet some people have different expectations of what it means to go to a gym these days. For Heath Wenzel, co-owner and senior movement specialist at The Athletics Bar in Willoughby, its new clients go through an admissions process to help them find the path that is best for them.

The Willoughby Athletic Bar focused on health and wellness and not just fitness for members and customers. (Sean Fitzgerald – The News-Herald)

“We try to find out more about their past history, what their expectations are, and then we sit down and formulate a plan. We do a body scan, which is an overall composition based not just on a number on the scale, ”Wenzel said.

“People have expectations, but a lot of times they come in and just from the process that’s going organically, they make a few adjustments. People come in and think all they have to do is train, but in reality they need to develop healthy habits, ”added Wenzel.

Currently, Cedeno and Wenzel are not seeing the coronavirus driving customers away amid the spread of the omicron variant, both noting that they keep their gyms and equipment clean.

Both owners are honest with their members and customers, and Cedeno notes how leaving nothing to water down allows for better transformation expectations.

“I believe our uniqueness is that we don’t water down anything. I have noticed that a lot of gyms in the area are like this. When you really look at their transformations versus the transformations that we’ve had, you can’t compare, it’s like oranges and apples. It’s going to take work and they’ve put the work in it, ”Cedeno said.

With the shift to personal training and wellness since the return of the 2020 closures, Wenzel’s membership is on the rise.

There are more and more gym websites in the region offering personal training. Wenzel believes that one of the main reasons for the change from the standard, old-school approach was that COVID served as a wake-up call for many.

“I 100% believe COVID has had an impact. I believe people take their health more seriously. For us, with what we put out on our social media and our website, we are all focused on education and empowerment, ”he said.

Something that frustrates him and the people he knows is how confusing fitness has become for many.

“The sad truth is that people feel like they have to be in good shape to come to a gym, when in fact the gym was created for people to come and educate themselves to lead healthier lives. “, did he declare.

“Even with COVID, Americans still need to take their health a little more seriously. I think we can do a better job in this regard. Nothing extreme, just 150 to 160 minutes per week and 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity per day.

Usually it is in the spring that Wenzel sees an increase in the number of people coming in, and it is the same every year because people realize around the new year that they want to do better.

“I always hope to have a line up in the spring, especially since they’re not afraid of omicron, but really because they take their health and well-being a little more seriously this year. Everyone enters the New Year by wanting to eat better, lose weight and exercise. These are the top three resolutions each year for a reason. Let’s make a lifestyle change and not just a New Years resolution.