January is often the month we set goals, and let’s be honest, after 2020 many of us are looking for a fresh start. Unsurprisingly, a December 2020 YouGov poll found that exercising more or improving fitness was the most common 2021 New Year’s resolution. Much like everything, gyms shuttered in early 2020 due to COVID-19, throwing a wrench into many people’s goals.
Whether you’ve recently set a goal to get in shape, are a weekend warrior (hello ski season), or are a seasoned athlete, you might be wondering what it’s like to work out at our local fitness studios right now. I recently took the opportunity for a trial membership at Vitruvian Fitness, a personal training and group fitness studio owned by North Denver resident Tom Wigginton, which started in LoHi before moving just over the city line into Wheat Ridge several years ago.
Vitruvian Fitness is different from many other gyms. Its focus, even prior to COVID-19, is on semi-private training. Unlike national gyms, you won’t find rows of treadmills and ellipticals, and unlike smaller group fitness gyms, you won’t find twenty people doing the same workout together. Similar to other gyms is the variety of equipment utilized: dumbbells, kettlebells, balls, TRX, and bands. While you may be working out with up to 4 other people, everyone is focused on their personalized program.
Upon first walking into Vitruvian Fitness, I was enthusiastically greeted by Enzo, the studio’s key motivator, and Tom’s rescued border collie. After a few pets and tail wags, I felt at ease and Tom explained the COVID protocols they have in place to ensure everyone’s safety. First, anyone that enters the studio must properly wear a mask, take their temperature, and sign a declaration that you are symptom-free, you’ve not knowingly been exposed to the virus in the past 14 days, and you’ve been following local regulations. There are 5 self-contained workout stations separated by clear vinyl partitions. Additionally, all contact surfaces (equipment, floors, high-frequency touch surfaces) are sanitized using an EPA registered antibacterial, virucide, mildew-stat, deodorant, and detergent solution that kill SARS-CoV-2, MRSA, Staph, HIV, and more. Moreover, there are intake fans in each station that feed into an air purifier, which includes a HEPA filter and UVC. Finally, each station is set up with all of the equipment you need, so sharing is limited.
I was drawn to the personalized programming Vitruvian Fitness provides, even during your trial. Tom took the time to learn about my goals, past injuries, current fitness regime, and my other activities such as snowboarding and hiking. Then, I started the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which everyone completes at their first appointment. It is a series of 7 simple movements that measure your movement abilities, not your strength. This assessment, combined with your goals, such as improving your overall fitness or becoming a stronger skier, provides the foundation for developing your strength program.
At my next appointment, another member and I walked in together, grabbed our workout plans from the counter, and went to our own stations. She was starting a new program, it was my first time, and there were two other people working out, so I was worried that I may not receive enough attention from the trainer. However, the trainer, Mark, was able to bounce between everyone checking form and explaining exercises with minimal wait time. Notes from my initial screening highlighted some imbalances, so as Mark explained why I was doing certain exercises to warm up and then noted what to be aware of as I moved through the 45-minute workout.
Every subsequent appointment I felt I had the attention of the trainer while not feeling smothered. I saw a variety of people working out – older, younger, newbies, and experienced athletes. It was motivating to see a variety of people working on their own goals. The atmosphere is serious, yet fun. Because your time is limited to about 45 minutes, everyone is focused on their workout, but there is still time to talk. I spent one session discussing Marvel movies and shows between sets.
I’m also drawn to businesses who support our community. Last March, Vitruvian members bought and built 100 bikes for Wish for Wheels, an organization that gives a new bike and helmet to every 2nd grader in Denver Public Schools that are categorized as Title 1. Other years Vitruvian Fitness collected personal products to make kits for the Bienvenidos Food Bank.
Life is stressful. The opportunity to safely focus on health and fitness goals is much needed self-care. My only critique? As the world opens back up, I hope they add more evening appointments so there’s more availability to de-stress after work.
Danielle Glover is a Highland resident, workout enthusiast, and dog lover.