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People turn to exercise to prevent COVID's severe impacts

Alvin Brand
In this undated photo, Alvin Brand, a fitness trainer, leads a spinning class in Vista.

When the pandemic forced gyms to close, it worried gym owners like Alvin Brand from Vista.

But the need for good health worried him more.

“I realized that during this time, it's a huge necessity to be healthy. I kept training because many people were dying, were getting sick, and the main reason is because they're not in good health,” he said.


As soon as Brand opened his gym again, he immediately saw an increase in clients, in part because COVID-19 made people realize the importance of health. Conditions such as diabetes and obesity make people more at-risk if they catch COVID.

RELATED: Who's Sickest From COVID-19? These Conditions Tied To Increased Risk

“During this time, everyone wants to be healthy. No one wants to be sick for the same reason,” he said. “That helped people change their ways, their mentality, and worry about their health.”

Roberto Fuentes started training with Brand about a year ago, and said COVID was one of the reasons why he wanted to get healthier.

“It was one of the factors that motivated me. I would watch the news and hear doctors say we have to be healthy, exercise, move. I said to myself, ‘now is the time,’” Fuentes said.


Fuentes has lost more than 70 pounds, has never had COVID, and said he feels better than ever.

“I feel super great, my life has changed… completely,” he said.

Fallbrook resident Joshua Inoa commutes 30 minutes every day to exercise with Brand, and has lost 40 pounds since he started.

What keeps him going back are “the people, the encouragement, the motivation… my future,” Inoa said.

Inoa did catch COVID, not at Brand's gym, and once he recovered, he returned to keep exercising.

“At one point I was just really depressed,” he said. “Not even money can get you out of that depression, and the health thing is so important in life, it really is.”

People turn to exercise as a way to prevent COVID-19

Gyms were a small source of COVID outbreaks in San Diego County, according to records obtained by KPBS last year, but there were far fewer outbreaks at gyms than in restaurants and retail stores.

Brand said his training motto has always been, “With health you can do it all, without it, nothing.“

“Without health, even with all the money in the world, you can't do anything. You can have tons of money in the bank, but without good health you’ll never enjoy it,” said Brand.