The rapid spread of COVID-19 changed public interactions in a dramatic fashion and in doing so challenges both social and mental health. The decisions to keep and sustain life are necessary yet in some cases becomes an even bigger issue by both COVID and by the after effects of safety protocols.
Local business woman Lorena Rodriguez remained an essential worker through quarantine and continues to use her creative side to her advantage during this time.
“I really didn’t struggle with this too much. My boyfriend and I are pretty adventurous and I think the fact that we’re being challenged by social distancing gives us space to think outside of the box, do some soul searching and find things that take care of us both physically and mentally,” Rodriguez said.
Gyms, yoga studios and public fitness rooms closed throughout most of the peak summer months. Just recently, some decided to open but with limited hours, continued use of masks and strict safety regulations.
“I didn’t go to the gym or to public places that much so we adjusted really quickly to that. Asheville is the best place to stay active during something like this. We go hiking up the parkway, there’s so many trails within an hour drive and we’ve also driven out to go kayaking and biking a few times,” Rodriguez said. “It sucks to be feeling stuck at home with no form of interaction but I think I’ve been fortunate to have my boyfriend and his son always around. I see my family still and we’re constantly keeping active in any way we can. The main things I’ve had to stray away from are big parties and long nights out drinking but really that’s kind of a good thing. It’s like an extended cleanse where now I can just be outside more or stay at home safe and sound. I’m sure it’d be a different story if I didn’t have so many people I was close to with me.”
Rodriguez works in a tall building of small cubicle spaces and wide office rooms.
“My work is certainly important for me and I love what I do but at the end of the day it is work and after a long day or a long week of dealing with calls and paperwork, it’s nice to have the motivation to be outside. Sometimes we get caught up and don’t realize that there’s an outside world until we’re forced to experience it and in that sense COVID hasn’t been all bad,” Rodriguez said. “This year looks so shitty from the outside but it’s kind of our wake up time and we can sit and sulk or we can continue to live life fully.”
Asheville showcases a broad spectrum of activities for locals and tourists. The combination of a rampant city life and a calming array of mountain views takes the interests of most.
Alex Marks, a tourist who travelled from Ohio to Asheville, said he’s never been so motivated to be as active in the world as he is now.
“I’m just passing through Asheville for today and tomorrow but I’ve already gone up a few trails. It’s a remarkable thing that we’re still able to see the world with such beauty while we’re all going through the worst of times,” Marks said.
Taryn Mocase, local real estate agent who grew up in a very physically active family, just recently transitioned to mountain biking to keep physically fit as a balance from the lack of active yoga sessions.
“COVID did crush my yoga studio schedule. I was going about three times a week. Online classes aren’t the same as studio time,” Mocase said.
Mocase keeps physically motivated by the changes she sees in her muscles and in her increasing durability during bike trails. Mentally, she keeps motivated by the built up adrenaline rush when going fast downhill as the endorphins start to release at the end of a ride.
“I have always maintained an active lifestyle, I grew up in a family of very active people. My father is a martial arts master who taught Taekwondo for many years. I grew up in the studio training with his students and sparring at tournaments. Since then I took to yoga for the last decade. Now recently it’s been mountain biking,” Mocase said.
Mocase said her experiences outdoors haven’t been affected by COVID. She continues to challenge herself and experience a new form of physical activity while also nourishing herself with protein shakes and home-cooked meals.
“Being outdoors on a ride is like a reset from a busy work day. The sights and sounds of being in the woods are calming to me. I prefer the outdoors over a gym anyday,” Mocase said. “DuPont Forest is a great place for hiking too. There are tons of waterfalls!”