A Ski Store Owner’s Musings

A Ski Store Owner’s Musings - Gear West

The “wow!” stage has moved on. We remember the day, the hour when the World Cup at Wirth Park was cancelled and that was just the beginning. “We are all in it together” is a supportive phrase, but after a few weeks, we truly are in it “individually” as well. My personal and business challenges as result of the Covid pandemic are different than yours. Similarity lies in the fact that 90% of ALL our lives are mightily affected; it is the details which are unique.

For me to discuss how the pandemic affects us is like suggesting a book to describe WW2. Too many differing plus sorrowful threads. Emotionally, physically, and economically, in micro (family and business) and macro (political and societal) Covid is reshaping all that is familiar and taken for granted. So, I will sidestep another discussion over Covid consequences and suggest that if possible, we look ahead to what CAN be accomplished during this unique time when much of life is suspended.

Work, but with more relaxed hours. Gear West is fortunate! Our web business ships useful ski stuff and few shoes, and our bike store remains open for bikes, accessories, and lots of service! The other businesses continue to a lesser degree with curbside pick-up for running shoes, xc gear and a tiny bit of new summer clothing etc. The alpine store sells a couple goggles for protection. I have been a retail store owner for 37 years, and suddenly operating with reduced mid-week hours from 8pm to 6pm was bizarre. I kept thinking it was Friday, daily. So yes, with reduced business hours and social distancing I have evenings free! But being slightly type A (ADHD?), i am concerned about wasting this little bit of breathing room fretting about… everything! I am way more exhausted with effort spent in preventing business failure than I am hustling in a happy way daily, all winter, selling xc skis to fun loving customers. As an owner, this current situation requires immense mental flexibility to adjust to varying degrees of fear and concern among our staff and our customers and continue to produce quality customer service and maintain profitability.

Staying Fit! Creating motivation among us at Gear West and hopefully inspiring customers. How can we stay movement motivated, so we will not look back and say, I became a blob during shelter in place? The cool April weather suggests snuggling on the coach. Lack of organized fitness activities AND races leave me goal-less. By raiding the refrigerator and using up my remaining stores of yeast and flour to make bread (bread machine) I feel chubby and more lethargic. Virtual races and workouts do not work so well for me, probably due to lack of technology talents. My one and only laptop remains at work. I don’t know how to hook life-time yoga workouts to a TV. I have Zwift at Gear West, if I would only use it… but I feel I set a lazy example by working out at work, so my choice exercise is anything outside. Knowing the environment that works for me best, I created some workout tips that might help you to maintain resolve in this period of the unknown.

1) We must honestly commit to how we will work out given the current restrictions. Inside our houses? Outdoors or a combination of both? Once decided, we then must organize

the pieces to ‘get ‘er done”. Our decision should be based on what type of exercise best fits our personality and availability of equipment and location; not what others are doing. I live near great riding roads and wonderful parks of which are open for enjoyment so I can and do exercise outside. Further outdoor motivation derives from my curiosity to better use the gear Gear West sells and conclude from REAL LIFE, what works. I wanted to achieve, albeit it tiny, a unique exercise goal for me, so I committed to cycling to and from work during “shelter in place” (ok, after 18 days of it, I now allow myself to drive 1x / week). ‘Forced’ to bike in rain, sleet, and snow, I used a variety of Gore products and can now tell you which fabrics worked best in bad weather. After 4 years of dissing air pods, I now love them! Listening to all the cool podcasts makes my commute super fun and I can still feel safe if the sound is turned low and my flashers are blinking.

Perhaps YOU may have an awesome workout room indoors. Chose what most easily works for your life. By creating a plan to download your favorite fitness studio or other virtual workout you will reduce the barriers of entry to take that daily first step to fitness.

2) Write down an exercise schedule that will support your new work life. Or furloughed life. Figure out what and when you can work out, build in some flexibility and set “good” and “better” goals per week. Write down the MINIMUM time you must commit to exercise that will bring a smile to your face and a “reach” workout that if attained, you OWN the day…and perhaps treat yourself to an extra Netflix episode, another bar of dark chocolate or a new puppy.

3) Commit to a workout daily routine, at least during the work week. These past few weeks of worry combined with lack of social or work structure can lead to paralysis. Commitment to action begins with words and numbers in front of your face. Write it down, type it in and plan what you committed to do and when you will do it. Schedule and structure your work and your workouts to build good habits and reduce procrastination.

4) Be creative. There is no instructor barking orders at you. No group ride to push the pace. For many of us, no fancy gym weights. But we do have our mind and the knowledge that much fitness burn can be had with a few light dumbbells, plain ol body weight or within an outdoor park. One can create their own bike intervals or run sprints with the dog. Work out ideas abound everywhere- friends, video, imagination- if one wants to find them. There ARE no excuses unless you are just plain dull. I do not think so.

5) Buy a bike or rollerskis, new run shoes or just fresh socks. Ok, this is not a shameless advertisement but a suggestion to inspire you to pick a sport that you can do by yourself, with family or with a friend (6 feet apart!). These fun and simple play toys can bring you enjoyment if you look at the opportunities a lack of scheduled social events provides you. We have TIME… to discover what is right around us, and to explore it with those who mean most to you… even if it is just yourself!

Lastly, it is perseverance. It is scary. We have no idea what aspects of life will regain normalcy and how we will interact with friends in the future. And of course, what will happen to our economy and our own personal work life? How do we plan? There are no store-bought books or college courses to read proven strategies on navigating us out of a world-wide pandemic. We must rely on our inner strength to discover how tough we really are and how we can help those who are less fortunate. We do have the freedom to choose, and it is up to us to find the positives lingering behind the fears. I firmly believe a healthy mind and body begets a wellspring of strength to meet the challenges of this pandemic. Life WILL return to some sort of normal. Let’s be in it together by working towards solutions and understanding instead of blaming or criticizing. We must move forward with drive, grit and grace and not waste this gift of time.

- Jan Guenther

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