Jane Macdougall: The Bookless Club and exercising during a pandemic

The Bookless Club tackles the issue of trying to retain one’s fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic

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So, when this is all over, are you going back?

Will you suit up, show up and line up?

Will you buy the gear, the membership, and the mat?

Are you prepared to work out with a mask on? To work out with a spray bottle, hand sanitizer and with polar charged avoidance of other sweaty, deeply exhaling participants?

Will you reserve a sacred rectangle of floor space? Will you engage a lane in a pool for a preordained time slot, no more, no less, no matter?

When the pandemic is over, are you going back to the gym?

Some gyms and pools are open but with restrictions that radically change accessibility as well as the experience, in general. Personally, if I have to schedule my gym visit like a dental appointment, I start to think of it as a dental appointment.

As the pandemic became entrenched people made adaptations. One approach was high-tech and required floor space, special shoes, and monthly subscriptions. Peloton was a company that stumbled onto a silver lining in this damned pandemic.

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Peloton is an interesting case study with a very modern origin story. Its humble beginning was on Kickstarter in late 2013. Their mandate was to enter the boutique home fitness world by providing inspirational spin classes for overscheduled people who had difficulty adhering to an external gym schedule. The idea was to spin at home, whenever suited you, but with all the benefits that class participation offered. Peloton sold their first internet connected bike in 2104.

The bike weighs 135 pounds and you’ll need special shoes with cleats compatible with Peloton’s pedals. A custom Peloton mat is recommended. A team will arrive at your home to assemble the bike. And then, once you’ve got all that set up, you’ll pay a monthly fee to screen both live and on-demand classes generated from the Peloton studios in New York. That’s a fair chunk of change all for the luxury of working out from home.

At the start of 2020, Peloton claims to have sold 555,000 of their internet connected bikes. By the third quarter of 2020, that number had risen to 888,000 bikes sold. If you’d bought Peloton stock early, there would have been spells where your stock value had multiplied by a factor of 300. Companies like Peloton represent genuine disruption to the fitness world, however, here’s another disruption that the traditional fitness industry will have to take into account. This other approach involves nothing more than comfortable shoes.

Walking is the new global fitness sensation.

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All over the world, the pandemic has reminded us of the benefits and pleasures of simply going for a stroll. And, as we’ve factored walking into our lives as a major component of cardiovascular health, we’ve also discovered that walking is pretty useful for — whaddya know! — just getting around.

The pandemic seems to have magically compressed distances. My son-in-law walks the several miles to my house for physically distanced, outdoor dinners. Apparently, it’s easier to say ‘yes’ to seconds when your Fitbit says you’ve earned seconds.

Generally speaking, we’re choosing walking over different transport options. For the first time in a long time, we’re electing to do errands on foot and not just because the car battery died.

In fact, Transport in London, a report on pandemic transportation trends in the English capital, found that 31 per cent of Londoners chose walking despite other possible modes of transport being available. Close to 60 per cent of Londoners said that, due to the pandemic, they were walking more and for longer distances. Walking, they responded, had become a significant component of their fitness regimes, not to mention a darned handy way to get things done.

The home fitness equipment market was worth US$16.4 billion in fiscal 2020. The five year projections are for a compound annual growth rate of 2.75 per cent.

And that figure could go a little higher if I have to replace my shoelaces.

Jane Macdougall is a freelance writer and former National Post columnist who lives in Vancouver. Her garden is her major distraction during COVID-19. She will be writing on The Bookless Club every Saturday online and in The Vancouver Sun.

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This week’s question for readers:

How are you keeping fit during the pandemic?

Send your answers by email text, not an attachment, in 100 words or less, along with your full name to Jane at thebooklessclub@gmail.com. We will print some next week in this space.


Responses to last week’s question for readers:

What five songs would be on your post-pandemic dance play list?

• I think a dance party would be fabulous. We need some fun.

There are so many great songs to chose from. One of the best songs I remember at weddings, dance parties, family gatherings is the Chicken Dance, it would be on my list. Who doesn’t laugh and giggle while doing the Chicken Dance? Always gets everyone up and is so much fun.

Melody Newcombe


R.E.M.: It’s The End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)

Spirit of the West: Home For a Rest

“Weird Al” Yankovic: Eat It

Prince: 1999

Irene Cara: What a Feeling

Glen Taylor


Youngblood: 5 seconds of Summer

The Chainsmokers: Don’t let me down

Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa: One Kiss

Ava Max: So Am I

Liam Payne: Strip that down

Annette Castell


• You go sister! You have an amazing list and it’s inspiring me to start mine for my post-pandemic dance-your-ass-off dance party. Consider adding these to your list:

The O’Jays: Love Train

Earth, Wind and Fire: September

The Clash: Rock the Casbah

Lee-Ann Garnett


• I can’t wait to dance with my friends but I will also continue to dance whenever I can by myself — while making dinner, cleaning the bathrooms, driving the car. Well, just upper-body in that instance.

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My current top favourites are similar to your list, though more Motown than ZZ Top.

The Contours: Do You Love Me? Absolutely the best dance song of all time!

 Chris Brown: Forever. I know, I know. But it’s still a great dancing song.

The Temptations: Ain’t Too Proud to Beg. Classic!

The Wanted: Glad You Came.  Danced to this at a wedding and we actually got a Bhangra dance move happening.

Dua Lipa: Be The One. Actually, just about any of her songs, but this one’s one of her best.

Thanks for letting me share!  There is joy in the world when you can dance.

Sue Morabito.


First of all, I love your column! Funny, thought provoking and original. It’s my fave part of the Saturday Vancouver Sun.

Tough to whittle it down to five but here goes:

Rihanna, Calvin Harris: We Found Love

Darude: Sandstorm

Jennifer Lopez: One the Floor

Haddaway: What is Love

Erasure: A Little Respect

Thank you for your tunes! I’ve added some to the wedding playlist I’m making for my nephew’s wedding in February. Potentially our first opportunity to get our groove on, on a crowded dance floor. Fingers crossed.

Shelley Sluggett

Wow! What a timely column today. I also keep adding to my playlist of songs for when I start my exercise routine.

Here are my top five that I’m hoping will motivate me:

ABBA: Dancing Queen

Village People: YMCA

Elton John and Kiki Dee: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Tina Turner: Simply the Best

Laura Branigan: Gloria

I have 22 on my list so far — maybe I’ll put them to good use any day now …

Here’s to parties and cutting a rug!!!

Lois Kathnelson

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