4 Ways to deal with a Negative Body Image during a Pandemic

Geneva Fortson
7 min readMay 18, 2020

I was working at the front desk of a gym when it was announced that San Francisco residents must shelter in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That afternoon we were swamped with calls from people asking if we were going to close our doors due to these orders. When we answered yes the response from many of the members was: anger, frustration, and in some cases panic

Now what am I going to do?

This is ridiculous! How will we exercise?

Do you think you’ll reopen in 2 weeks?

People also rushed in to purchase what little workout equipment we had left and voiced frustration and anxiety about exercise equipment being sold out nearly everywhere.

In the face of a pandemic with a new, contagious, and deadly virus it may seem odd to some that people were so worried, upset, and anxious about gym closures but I wasn’t surprised.

I had worked in the Fitness Industry for 15 years and I knew that for some the gym closures weren’t just an inconvenience, the gym closures brought anxiety and stress about: missing workouts, loss of control along with uncertainty, and fear of weight gain and struggles with negative body image.

Anxiety and Stress due to missing workouts

Having struggled with this issue myself I can identify with those that were anxious and stressed about missing their workouts.

As a Fitness and wellness professional, I encourage everyone to be consistent with their movement programs and to exercise regularly. I also know how the consistency can turn into obsession and compulsion.

Some signs that you may be struggling with an obsession/compulsion to exercise

  • Views exercise as punishment
  • Rearranging your entire life so that you won’t ever miss a workout
  • Punishing yourself with less food if you miss a workout
  • Punishing yourself by working “extra hard” if you miss a workout
  • Extreme anxiety and/or depression if a workout is missed
  • Recovery is taking longer or not happening at all because your body is…

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Geneva Fortson

Health and Lifestyle Transformation Coach, Women’s Health and Wellness Expert, Women’s Empowerment Evangelist, and recorder of the human experience