Lindsey Appiah had a tough time staying in shape during the pandemic. With gyms shuttered and fewer opportunities to walk around while working from home, the Washington, D.C.-based attorney, who lost 70 pounds over the last four years, saw her strict fitness regimen fall by the wayside. As a result, she gained about 15 pounds during the pandemic.
“When you lose a lot of weight, having been overweight for a long time, there’s always this fear in the back of your head of gaining weight back,” Appiah said. “It’s almost like dread. It’s almost like this thing chasing you.”
So when Appiah started noticing a growing number of social media posts about achieving a “post-pandemic body” — or getting fit for when the world returns to normal — she says it struck a nerve.
“Do we really need to revert back to something that wasn’t even a healthy way of thinking, to begin with?” she said. “Is that what we’re going to do? It just felt really wrong to me.”
Appiah isn’t the only person feeling pressure to lose weight. As vaccines have rolled out across the country, trainers say they’ve seen significant increases in clients aiming to look their best by the time the world fully reopens.
Though fitness and mental health professionals agree a healthy lifestyle is a worthy goal, they caution against quick physical transformations — especially after a traumatic year for so many.
Vaccines bring hope but also pressure.
January is usually the busiest time of the year for Los Angeles-based personal trainer Benjamin Stone. He typically gets an influx of new clients motivated by their New Year’s resolutions.
But as coronavirus cases surged in his area at the start of 2021, the calls from new clients never came.
“It was extraordinary,” he said. “Those New Year’s resolutions didn’t happen, and it’s almost like a pandemic resolution now. It’s like, three months later, now I’m getting all the calls.”
As cases declined and vaccines started rolling out, Stone’s new client inquiries increased five-fold from January to March, with many saying they want to get in shape by the time the pandemic ends.
Gabbi Berkow — a dietitian, exercise physiologist, personal trainer, and Pilates instructor in New York City — has also seen an uptick. In March, she received double the number of new client inquiries compared to a pre-pandemic week.