Mike Marcinek owns NEPA Fit Club in Blakely. The Valley Advantage asked the gym owner and registered dietician to share some tips for staying fit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Q: Tell us more about your business? How did you get your start?

A: We’re on Route 6. We’ve been here for the past seven years after spending a little over three at our first location in Jessup. We help busy women and men become the best versions of themselves. We also have our Driven Athletics program designed to help local athletes unlock their strength, speed and power.

I started NEPA Fit Club because I had initially planned to move away. I was always told that you must leave the area for the highest quality service. I thought that this thinking was flawed and made it my goal to bring the highest quality and professional coaching to Northeast PA. We have been blessed to transform hundreds of lives and see our athletes achieve amazing success. We believe in our community and want to give back in every way we can.

Q: With gyms closed, how can people used to a workout routine keep up with it at home?

A: Well, the first thing we recommend is to prioritize it. Put it on your calendar and keep your appointment with yourself.

The next thing you have to do is accept the fact that things are a little different but that doesn’t mean your goals of staying fit and healthy have to change. Your body can offer a great workout whether it’s pushups, lunges, walking and running.

More specifically, we’ve had our clients focus on things they may neglect such as core work and mobility. When the gym opens back up (and it will) you may find that you are moving better, experiencing less aches and pains and you shored up some weak spots.

Q: What’s your advice for someone who is realizing, hey, I’m gaining weight and I’m not moving enough?

A: It really is a challenge. As a registered dietitian I have received my share of questions on how to avoid the “quarantine 15.” I think mindfulness about what and why you’re eating goes a long way towards overindulging. Something like asking yourself if you are truly hungry or just bored or giving some thought to how you will feel after eating the food.

On the activity side, I think we paralyze ourselves by looking for the perfect workout. We have been providing our clients a variety of home workouts but also encouraging them to move more. We have had people who track their steps mention that they are getting 5,000-7,000 less per day. You don’t need to wait for the perfect situation. Sometimes just moving, going for a walk, doing 10 squats every time you enter a certain room, et cetera can go a long way towards helping you maintain your current fitness levels.

Q: When things start to open back up, what’s your advice to people who are planning to head back to or join a gym?

A: Well, I hope everyone comes back! I think we will all be craving some normalcy! There may be restrictions on how many people can train together, so we will have to be prepared for our routines to differ from when we first shut down.

I think it will be important to dip your toes in the water first and recognize that you may not just pick back up where you left off. When it comes to things like strength and endurance, there is a skill component involved. It is not unlike playing an instrument. If you haven’t picked it up in a while, you may be a bit rusty. It will come back quicker than you think though. Don’t get discouraged, be resilient and stay consistent.

Q: And just for fun, what’s your favorite exercise?

A: My favorite exercise…oh man! I can’t pick just one. It’s so evolving. If I were choosing for myself, I would say the kettlebell swing because it’s fun , athletic and covers so much but as a coach I would have to say the chin up. When I am working with someone and I watch them get their first chin up, the moment is so genuine. The look of joy is undeniable, and you can just feel that person become empowered. It’s an awesome moment.

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