What COVID did to me and my gym

This article is going to have two parts:

  1. The enforced shutdown of Baltimore Kettlebell Club due the COVID pandemic
  2. My families actual infection of the virus which came 8 months later

The Shutdown

On March 16th 2020 the Governor Larry Hogan issued a shutdown order for gyms across the state of Maryland.

We immediately switched to a virtual platform; at first exploiting a loophole in the governor’s mandate by doing Live Streams of our regular classes and operating as a “club” not a gym. One week later the order came down deeming us non-essential at which point we had to close.

The first thing I did was lend out all of our kettlebells and any other equipment any of our members wanted to borrow. I also had extra keys made for a couple of our competitive lifters who I knew needed a place to continue their training. They were dubbed “trainers” or “employees” and were granted access to BKC for personal use only.

The next thing I did was send an email out to all of our past and current membership that basically stated 1) I was going to leave the automatic billing schedule as is 2) anybody who wanted to cancel their membership could do so and was still welcome to continue training with us virtually or in-person once we opened back up.

The response I got from that email overwhelmed me. Not only did almost everybody choose to continue to pay their membership dues, but we had people ask to pay more and even rejoin (one of which was from someone out of state)! We actually had a gain in membership in the month of April! I doubt there are any other gyms that could say that.

If I’m completely honest, if I had not gotten such a response I may have closed the gym voluntarily. As in, I would have given up and started looking for a job. For the first time ever, I entertained the thought of not being a gym owner. I even updated my resume.

But how could I do that with such support from my members? There’s no way. It was going to take more than the COVID virus or a government mandated shutdown to put us out of business.

While having a gain in membership meant a lot, it did not mean a gain in cash flow. Revenue was down over 30% due to no personal training and contract classes. Once you subtract that from the paperthin margins we had to begin with, we were still in trouble.

Attitude towards gyms being shutdown

My attitude from the beginning of the pandemic was that everybody had to continue training, whether or not the gyms were open. Especially with all of the concerns about covid, the unknowns, the hoarding of supplies, the fear of widespread death and economic destruction; the stress alone was enough to make one sick!

We had to continue training in the face of COVID because exercise is our first line of defense to stay healthy! Our mental health depended on it as much as our physical health. I started blogging about this in the Quarantine Routine series.

Always a believer of practicing what I preach, I started training everyday, which I have never done before. I trained with my Zoom classes, 5 days a week, and I did a quick press session on Sat/Sun, too.

We were all in this together, right?

The success of that program, what would later be called the “Everyday program”, where I pressed a 32kg kettlebell everyday for 47 days; I’ve never experienced training success like that in my life. 

But I digress…

Zoom workout with Bill, Jaclyn, Paula, Wanda, Karen and my daughters.

Virtual Response

We had much success with our virtual classes at BKC. We added to our schedule, for both convenience and commitment.

Some of our trainers who were not currently teaching classes picked up timeslots just to have something to commit to. In total Baltimore Kettlebell Club added about 8-10 classes per week when we went virtual!

Everybody who participated would agree, the virtual program was successful. It kept us accountable to good, productive training.

If you didn’t have a kettlebell by now or a modest home gym set up, you should have. 

The Virus

On Tuesday November 17th my daughter tested positive for COVID. She had been tested 4 days before at the start of her symptoms (loss of smell). 

Upon receiving the confirmation, we quarantined the entire family. We actually started the quarantine 2 days before we got her results back, but nevertheless, we treated it as if we all had it. 

With 5 children, we did not even attempt to self isolate. We continued to hug and kiss the kids and do our normal family stuff, albeit inside the confines of our home/yard.

Of course, we reached out to anyone we had been in contact with and notified them of their potential exposure and did all of the things we were legally and morally required to do.

Only 2 of the kids ever felt ill at all, and that only lasted 3-5 days. In fact, by the time the positive test results came back, my daughter was already symptom free. 

As for Jess and I, it was about 12 days of fatigue, headaches and body aches. The symptoms were not constant, they came and went, and overall were pretty mild. It felt like a hangover that just wouldn’t go away. 

We walked and stayed active. Jess continued to homeschool all the kids and I worked on various projects around the house. We read books, we wrote in our journals and we binged watched Netflix like normal people.

After 2 weeks, we started training again.

I picked back up on Thanksgiving like I had never stopped! Every Thanksgiving I do a 100 rep challenge and it’s my favorite workout of the year. I had this workout planned since summer, and I proceeded as planned.

I even decided to join members from GAMA for a second (virtual) workout with the mace.

It’s fair to say that I was highly motivated from catching COVID. I not only wanted to beat it, but I was determined to not let it slow me down.

Attitude towards COVID

I don’t get sick.

That statement is more of a proclamation than a historical fact. Of course, I’ve been sick before, but I never think that way. I never expect to be sick.

Have you ever heard someone sniffle and say, “I’m getting sick” or “I think I’m coming down with something”?

Sure, maybe that runny nose is the start of something and a signal that you should get some extra rest and a bowl of chicken noodle soup… 

But I think claiming that you’re getting sick is only making it worse and increasing the likelihood of it.

A major part of one’s physical health lies in their mental state. For example, we know that stress negatively affects our immune systems. 

I take that one step further; I think if you go around saying you get sick all the time, then that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Likewise, if you say that you don’t get sick.

I’m not trying to make any claims on anyone else’s health, but words have power. We should monitor our internal dialog closely and see how much of that becomes a reality.

Your thoughts become things.

So, back to COVID…

I never worried about getting it. 

Of course, I didn’t want to get it, and I didn’t want to give it to anyone, but I wasn’t scared for myself or my immediate family.

Again, the stress that comes with being fearful could only contribute to what COVID might do to me, so I made a conscious, rational decision to not be afraid.

So much of what we experience in life can be made better if we simply adjust our attitude to it. We don’t get to choose our circumstances but we can choose how we respond to it.


If there’s a point to this post, it’s that strength is an attitude. Just like physical strength, a strong mental attitude can be developed.

First, cut out the naysayers, all of those people who hold you back. Sometimes it’s the people closest to you that are the most negative. If you can’t bring them up with you it’s in your best interest to limit your contact with them.

Second, stop watching the news and listening to social media. It’s tough in the “information age”, but just like you go on a diet and cut out all the junk food, do the same with the junk news. It’s all biased, over sensationalized and feeding you different flavors of fear and anger.

Replace all that negativity with the following reading list:

  • As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (available on Netflix)
  • Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey

Once you change your input and the information you’re consuming, you’re ready to start practicing a strong mental attitude. Especially important to do it when you don’t want to.

Pay close attention to your speech and cut out words like “can’t” and “impossible”. Replace them with truer statements like “not yet” or “I don’t want to”.

Monitor your emotions for fear, anger, resentment and any negativity. Identify the triggers of those emotions and avoid them at all costs. Practice forgiveness and give grace to others as well as yourself (very important).

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Phil 4:8

Strength & Health to you in the New Year!

-Dan Cenidoza