TOLEDO, Ohio — With winter right around the corner, it's a good time to begin searching for a way to stay active while still being able stay warm and social distance.
The Standard CrossFit gym in downtown Toledo is one of the gyms in our area working hard to keep you safe in the middle of a pandemic.
Gyms provide an essential opportunity for people to fight off seasonal depression and get fit. Sometimes, that opportunity comes with the inspiration and motivation to shed weight and make healthy changes and lifestyle choices.
"It's an amazing part of my life. I was originally only gonna come here three, four days a week. But I'm finding myself, if I don't come 6 days a week and give a 100% every time I'm here, I'm disappointed with myself," said John Nieman, who has trained at The Standard CrossFit.
For Nieman, fitness has become a way of life.
He started his journey at 509 pounds and has since lost more than 130 pounds.
But he had hit a plateau, until he joined the gym back in August.
There, he dropped another 30 pounds and found a fitness family.
Ben Olin is the owner and head coach at the gym. For Olin, there goal is to provide more than just your average gym at The Standard CrossFit.
"I think fitness is not only like a... I think it's a right. And you should have access to very high-level training, so that you know exactly what you're doing, you have confidence in what you're doing, that you have fun," explained Olin.
Olin closed his business when the pandemic hit and Ohio leaders issued the stay-at-home order. Olin says he reopened when he could, back in May.
He understands how essential places like gyms are right now, especially for people who have a rough time with seasonal depression.
For Nieman, working out helps him cope with the challenges he's faced in life.
"Like a couple years ago, I went through some tragedy. It'll be three years ago, November 2nd my best friend took his own life. And then it'll, in January, it was 3 years that my fiancée passed away," said Nieman.
At The Standard CrossFit, he's found more than just fitness. Nieman's found a family.
During the ongoing pandemic, some may be wary to hit the gym due to concerns over COVID-19. But Olin wants to reassure anyone who may be hesitant that his gym is doing everything it can to avoid risk factors.
"We clean more. We make people wash their hands or disinfect when they get here. We check them in so that there's no common surfaces that are touched. You have to stay in your pre-determined spot," explained Olin.
Olin says it's his duty to keep his doors open, knowing people like Nieman need fitness to bring a light of hope.
And Nieman hopes others will find their fitness family, too.
"Just give it a shot. I mean, don't be afraid of trying. First step of failing is failing. I'm a big, big proprietor of doing what makes you happy and I'm optimistic as all hell," said Nieman.
To sign up for classes or learn more, you can visit The Standard CrossFit's website.