How this personal trainer adapted to life in quarantine

This is part of the series Shore Stories: Life Along the Lakeshore columns by local residents about their lives.

When I was a child, my grandma used to take us on lots of walks. I always loved being outside and enjoying nature, and that has continued my whole life. When I was 15, I saw a picture of female bodybuilding champion Rachel McLish and said, "I want to be like her." My mom and I exercised together and bought a Joe Weider workout set and put it in the extra bedroom … and so it began. I have been lifting weights ever since.
I have been in the health and fitness industry for more than 30 years. I am a certified group exercise instructor and personal fitness trainer, and I recently became certified as a virtual optimal health and lifestyle coach. 
Tammy Dockins has been going to the gym five times a week for 42 years

After my older children were born, I decided to become a group exercise instructor, and worked as an instructor and trainer at the YMCA in Indiana, where we lived at the time. I have been teaching and training others in gyms for decades. I love seeing all my friends every day and the energy you get from working out together. I miss that daily connection and all of the hugs. It's been hard not knowing how long this is going to last.

Like many, my life has been turned upside down. Before quarantine, I taught 17 or more classes a week plus personal training sessions. Then, boom! The gym and everything closed. I felt devastated, to say the least. I have been working with a lot of my people for more than 25 years, and now I don't see them. 

Not only that, my income was crushed. 

Missing the interaction

I spent a lot of time at gyms and did some corporate exercise classes, as well. My life has been spent helping others to stay healthy and fit, and I love it. I have worked with people of all ages, and I have to say, I miss my people and interacting with them every day.
Before quarantine, Tammy Dockins taught 17 or more classes a week plus personal training sessions.
It makes me especially sad that my senior classes are not being held because I know how important exercise and socializing is to them and their health. 

Thankfully, I recently became a certified optimal life coach and I have been able to help many people lose weight, deal with stress, and become healthier through this crazy time. I hope that I am helping people with my virtual classes. I get a few messages, but I really don't know. 

My husband has been going to the gym five times a week for 42 years. Going to the gym is part of our life, like many others. It's part of who we are, and although we can stay healthy and strong without it, it leaves a void in our life. I have given my husband a program that he does at home (we only have tubes and 15-pound dumbbells and he is used to much heavier weights). He is maintaining his fitness level, and it relieves stress for him. I never thought it was going to last this long. 

Diving in to help

As I said, once quarantine hit, my life was turned upside down. However, I wanted to help others, so I wasted no time in adapting to my new normal. I am not friends with technology, to say the least, but I dove right in and learned how to train some of my at-home clients virtually and teach virtual classes. I started offering classes on Zoom and presenting workouts on Facebook for people to do at home. 
An important part of Tammy Dockins' exercise regiment is strength training.
I feel it’s important for people to stay connected and have ways to stay active, and it fulfills my soul to help others whenever I can. Many generous people reached out to me in this difficult time, and I am grateful I can do the same for others. 

Exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, and helps fight depression, according to Harvard Men's Health Watch — Harvard Health. I know a lot of people are dealing with those feelings during quarantine. 

So many people turn to food for comfort, especially when they are stuck at home. Foods that are sweet and high in calories seem to be the most comforting for people. I was so happy that I could offer my coaching support and positive mindset to people on a daily basis through social media. 

Most of my clients have managed to lose weight and get healthier, instead of putting on the “COVID 19” — the colloquial name for pounds gained during the pandemic — and that makes me especially happy. 

One tip that can help while stuck at home is leaving the impulse food at the store. If you don’t buy it, you won’t be tempted to eat it. Also, drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day can help you feel fuller and eat less. Another thing I teach my clients is healthy motion, recommending they stand up often, dance, and walk around whenever they can. 

Interaction with animals

Animals can also help relieve stress and increase the amount of activity we get. Over the past decade, scientists in the U.S. have been particularly interested in the therapeutic effects of Human Animal Interaction (HAI) on the elderly. Cats and dogs, these studies have found, can help offset the anxiety and depression that come with aging, as well as keep elderly active. 

I did some fostering for Animal Lovers Inc. and placed one dog into a great home and am helping with another. 

Because many nonprofit organizations are struggling right now — and because I love animals and helping people stay active — I decided to hold a couple of online fundraisers; one for the Harbor Humane Society and another for Swift Outdoor Accessible Recreation, which provides equipment for people with disabilities to get back outside and enjoy nature. Both of these are great causes. 

Some of my online classes are being streamed through my gym now, and they are still being offered for free. 

Tammy Dockins has been in the health and fitness industry for more than 30 years. She is a certified group exercise instructor, personal fitness trainer, and a virtual optimal health and lifestyle coach. Learn more about her at
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