Gym Closures Cause Teens to Flock to Virtual Fitness


photo courtesy of Maxon Karnes

Landon Vuagniaux, Sports Editor

Over quarantine, online workout channels have become increasingly popular, as many find themselves with extra free-time.

Much of the content, which typically consists of workout videos, provides training on proper technique and nutrition. YoutTube, Instagram and TikTok are the commonly used platforms for these channels.

Senior Adam Leston watches Philip Rusnack, a fitness YouTuber who goes by Philion and has over 500,000 followers. Leston said he initially started watching Philion because he was interested in becoming more fit at the beginning of quarantine. His videos, which Leston finds “instructional and funny,” quickly drew Leston in.

Chloe Ting is another popular online fitness instructor whose channel experienced a massive increase in viewers during the pandemic’s shutdowns. Her YouTube subscriptions jumped from 2 to 16 million in the past year.

Bored and looking for something to do during quarantine, sophomore Maranda Fosse first found Ting’s channel while scrolling through TikTok. She said Ting’s videos appealed to her because they included free, full workout plans in playlists already curated for viewers’ use. 

The videos are convenient because they are easily accessible, even at home, and only require a yoga mat, according to Fosse, who enjoys the channel for various reasons.

“Throughout all of Chloe’s videos she’s very motivational and says phrases to help keep you going,” Fosse said. “Overall, these videos inspired me to stay fit and motivated to keep myself feeling good and healthy.”

Leston said he also finds his online training beneficial. By watching Philion’s routines, Leston has improved his weightlifting technique and has developed higher quality workouts of his own.

“…These videos have helped me refine my form and get more out of my reps,” Leston said. “I hope to achieve new [personal bests] by the end of the year, and with his help, I’m on pace to do so.”

Using his own weights, Leston works out in his house with the assistance he receives from Philion’s content.

Unlike Fosse and Leston, senior Maxon Karnes enjoys working out in gyms when they’re open, and he runs his own Instagram powerlifting account called maxon_out. 

“I started my lifting account a little over a year ago as a way to track my progress and inspire people,” Karnes said. “But as I got more into powerlifting, it’s helped me get noticed by colleges and get in touch with some more prestigious powerlifters.”

Karnes’ feed features clips of his performing lifts like the squat, bench press and deadlift. In order to target more specific muscle groups, Karnes also does variations of these movements.

When EHS went to fully remote learning in the spring, Karnes said he struggled to make it to the gym because he was training only in his weight lifting class at school. As a result, he was forced to try multiple gyms, which were eventually shut down as well.

According to Karnes, this was alarming because he was three weeks from his first powerlifting competition, which was inevitably canceled. Fortunately, Karnes was able to stay active by working out at his friend’s home gym and later acquiring his own equipment that he used until gyms reopened in late summer. 

Karnes stayed motivated by remembering his goal: becoming a world powerlifting champion, and he offered some advice for his followers. 

“To anyone new to working out, I would say that the most important thing to do is to focus on your own progress and not compare it to anybody else’s.  Everybody has to start somewhere…”  Karnes said. “…Find out what drives you and don’t lose sight of that no matter what life throws in your way.”