One of the nicest outcomes of the COVID pandemic has been the reduction in commuting time for people who have shifted to working 100% from home. With less time in transit, many people have had to figure out how to work effectively from home.
Renegotiating time and space for work hasn’t been the only challenge, though. Not only did many places of employment close, but the businesses where people spend their time, like churches, salons, and gyms were also shuttered. When COVID restrictions began, most gyms were closed, and once restrictions were lifted and doors reopened to customers, only a small percentage of people could congregate inside at one time. For people whose workouts are a central part of their lives —stopping them altogether or waiting until things got back to normal just wasn’t an option. So, when my coworker described how she reimagined her family’s workout time, I was immediately inspired and couldn’t wait to share her story.
Jackie Flemming has worked for Simpson for over five years and was promoted last year to Outreach and Training Specialist because she (in her supervisor’s words):
- Attacks everything with energy and determination that usually result in success
- Is committed to winning/succeeding, no matter the odds or what lies ahead
- Is passionate about helping others
- Leads from the front
- Is not afraid to go against the flow and usually will turn the tide
- Is a tried and true friend devoted to a cause
Jackie got into fitness after her second baby was born. As many new moms find, it takes time and a lot of effort to get the post-baby body back in shape. Just as she does at work, Jackie attacked this challenge head on: She teamed up with a personal trainer and lost 60 pounds. Later she joined CrossFit to change things up and began studying nutrition to become a nutrition coach, mostly for her own benefit but also because she enjoys coaching others. She loves working out in groups, not only for the encouraging support a group setting can provide but also for the comradery and friendships she has developed in the gym. Because of this, she was committed to getting her husband to join her workout regime. Finally, after 10 years of communicating the benefits of a group workout to him, she convinced him to join her workouts — and he’s never looked back. Then COVID showed up in the US and switched things up again.
Preparing for wintertime workouts that would need to be inside, Jackie and her husband had already begun creating a workout area in their garage, but then COVID created a new challenge: Getting weights and workout equipment became almost impossible as the entire country accepted their fate of working and working out from home. So the couple focused on building their workout space themselves!
The vision for the gym started with the need for vertical storage in which to stack the weights to economize their space usage. The storage unit would need to hold a lot of pounds securely, so they used Simpson Strong-Tie corner connectors (RTA2) because they looked good and were strong. The first weight storage unit quickly filled up and they had to build a larger one to go with it. (The two pieces are shown side by side.) Finally, they built shelves with barbell storage to complete the piece.
Simpson Strong-Tie product used in this Tall DIY Weight Storage Unit:
- SDWS22312DBB & STN22 Outdoor Accents® structural wood screw and hex-head washer set
- SD8 Wafer-head screw
- SD10112DBB Outdoor Accents connector screw
- RTA2 & RTC2 Rigid Tie® connectors
- SDWS16212DB SDWS Framing screw
Simpson Strong-Tie product used in this small weight shelf and barbell hanger:
- SDWS16300DB Framing screw
- SDWS22312DBB & STN22 – Outdoor Accents® structural wood screw and hex-head washer set
- RTA2 Rigid Tie® connectors
- SD8 Wafer-head screw
Simpson Strong-Tie connectors even helped safely, secure the mats to the floor. They discovered by using a Simpson Strong-Tie mending plate (MP) to connect the rubber mats and stop them from slipping.
It took the couple several months to acquire all the desired equipment and building materials, but now the gym has a variety of Olympic weights and barbells, rings that are attached to the ceiling, two rowing machines, box jumps, a squat rack, and his and her pull-up bars.
Jackie says creating and working out in the garage gym has helped take their minds off the coronavirus pandemic and allowed them to stay on track with their fitness goals. Now they invite friends from the gym over for morning workouts and have even organized the Flemming Fall Fitness Fest. With six teams of two people each, they developed three varied challenging workouts for the competition. Because the competition had so much positive participation and feedback, they even found a sponsor for the event and neighborhood volunteers to keep everyone hydrated and upbeat!
One really great unexpected result Jackie experienced has been getting to know more of the neighbors who have enjoyed watching the group workouts from their socially distanced driveways while cheering the group on. Some of the elderly neighbors have even asked Jackie for her advice on how they too can stay healthy and fit during the pandemic.
The benefits of the garage gym don’t stop at human fitness —even the dogs get to participate. The Flemmings’ two dogs get their own space in the garage to watch their humans, and when the cardio portion begins, a quick release leash enables the pups to enter and exit the area safely and get their own runs in too.
Jackie’s personal insight into all of this came just recently. She said, “We started all this with a simple weight rack and it turned into something where we are now leading a fitness community, not just for us and our friends, but for our neighbors too! During this pandemic, everyone has been searching for something to put their heart and soul into and take their minds off of all the negative news. We’ve found something we love to do as a family, and now we’re turning it into a business.”
If you’re ever in North Carolina and need a good workout, send Jackie a hello! You can find her inspirational workout tips, nutrition insights and good healthy fun on Instagram here: @GarageBoxCommunity.