For Joel Pedersen, keeping going amid the COVID-19 pandemic is akin to training for a big race.
“We need to stay committed and disciplined and as consistent as we can,” he says. “We have been in this COVID environment for a number of months. And I think most of us recognize that we’re going to be in it for quite some time.”
Pedersen, a member of the Fond Du Lac First Nation, spent 25 years as a Saskatoon police officer before retiring and founding Fitness 2J2 in 2011. The health and wellness company hosts free fitness workshops in Saskatoon’s inner city and northern Saskatchewan communities.
Fitness 2J2’s programming came to an abrupt halt in mid-March when the provincial government declared a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic and banned group gatherings.
Pedersen resumed some clinics in Saskatoon this fall, but things look different than they did before the pandemic.
Fitness 2J2 has typically hosted free drop-in fitness classes in St. Mary’s Wellness and Education Centre weekday evenings from September to June. Now Pedersen is hosting those classes outdoors in the park behind the facility. He and his volunteers are masked and gloved and everyone respects physical distancing guidelines. He’s not sure how many weeks classes will be offered this year; he is hoping the weather holds out so he can keep working with youth and their families for as long as possible.
“I wanted to try to keep that consistency there for those people who, for the last few years, have been a part of this program,” Pedersen said. “It really is important to stay active, especially in this time of COVID and especially as we’re now going to be moving into fall and into winter. It’s important to realize that the physical component will help with mental health. It just will.”
Fitness 2J2’s workshops include boot camps, self defense classes and learn-to-run clinics for people of all ages and abilities. Pedersen says that, in addition to getting people active and encouraging healthy lifestyles, one of the main things he teaches through his workshops is discipline — something particularly important these days when there are no races or competitions for people to prepare for.
“All of a sudden we’re missing that motivation,” Pedersen says. “When I’m not motivated I can’t rely on that, but I need to rely on being disciplined. And so my discipline allows me to carry on with what I need to do.”
For more information on Fitness 2J2, visit the organization’s website.