By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Those who have resolved to work out and become more healthier in 2021 will find a new world awaiting them at area gyms and fitness centers. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in-person classrooms, dining, shopping, workplaces, family gatherings, and more have been disrupted—and gyms are no different. The Birmingham Times recently spoke with area trainers about fitness in a COVID-19 world.
At BeDriven Fit Factory, things look a little different since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
“When people come here, we take their temperatures as soon as they walk through the door,” said BeDriven owner Darnell Green, who has been a certified personal trainer since 2015. “We also require people to wear a mask when they work out, [so] we’ve scaled our workouts back a little bit. … It’s different to have people actively do an intense workout with masks versus walking on a treadmill or elliptical machine. We want to make sure everyone is OK, but we require masks when anyone comes in to work out.”
In addition, Green sanitizes the facility after every class; equipment used during workouts is sanitized by each participant in the class. He also makes hand sanitizer and wipes available throughout the gym and reminds clients to wash their hands frequently.
Green, 30, who began training clients in 2013 before becoming certified and developing BeDriven in 2015, offers one-on-one personal- and group-training sessions. He currently has 102 clients—or partners, as he calls them—and is the only trainer at the facility.
Be Driven opened in April 2019, and one year later COVID-19 shut down nearly everything. One thing Green did have in place before the pandemic, however, was online training and a Facebook group for all of his partners.
“We would go on Facebook Live at times for people who would normally go to class, [so] if they missed [a session], they could come back later to watch it and still get their workout in,” he said. “Going forward, we’ll always be able to train people virtually, but we already had that in the works prior to the pandemic.”
When COVID-19 restrictions that had closed gyms, bars, hair salons, and other businesses were lifted in June, Green reopened and made sure to follow guidelines set by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state of Alabama.
“We keep the classes at nine people, so there is a good people-to-trainer ratio and people are not all on top of one another,” said Green, who plans to move into a new facility, also in Bessemer, in the first quarter of 2021. “Before the pandemic, there were more than nine participants per class, but now we cap session sizes in order to socially distance and adhere to the guidelines.”
Marcie Pruitt, 48, has been training at BeDriven since March 2020.
“I would go to other gyms, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Why am I not still seeing what I want to see?’ I would put in the work, but I was leaving the gym and not seeing any results,” she said.
Pruitt was pleased by what she found at BeDriven.
“With a lot of trainers, you can call or text and not get a response. The moment I texted [Green], he immediately got back with me, and I could tell he was interested [in working with me],” Pruitt said. “He took time and told me I could come in and try it out first. He also explained what was offered … and that I could go at my own pace. … After getting into [BeDriven], I’m losing weight and feeling better about myself.”
The pandemic has not caused business to slow down for Green, and he expects to see growth in the new year.
“It’s picked up more in-house because people really appreciate the fact that [BeDriven] is a small gym, so they know who is coming in and they can see me actually cleaning and wiping things down,” said Green.
BeDriven is located at 2550 Five Star Pkwy. Suite 104, Bessemer, AL 35022. For more information, contact Darnell Green at firstname.lastname@example.org on Instagram at bedriven_fit_factory or big.drive_, and on Facebook at Bedriven Fit Factory.