ACCRA, GHANA - As Ghana's confirmed numbers of COVID-19 cases keep rising, the government is urging citizens to take their health seriously and do regular exercise. Although social distancing has made going to the gym a challenge, health experts say fancy equipment is not needed.

Gyms and personal trainers have switched to online exercise classes while a popular Ghanaian bodybuilder shows that you can exercise anywhere and with just about anything during the pandemic.

Pippa Pepera has watched interest in health and fitness increase over the past 24 years. She hopes COVID-19 will make the interest grow further. Accra, Ghana, June 30, 2020. (Stacey Knott/VOA)

Since opening her gym in 1996, Pippa Pepera has seen a growing interest in health and fitness in Ghana.

Before COVID-19, at its peak, the gym would see 130 members a day. Now, many are staying away. But to help them keep fit, Pepera adjusted. She rents out equipment and encourages home workouts.  
The gym also offers online Azonto aerobics, a dance style that originated in Ghana.  
“Azonto is something the kids can do at home, mum can do, grandma, grandpa, everybody can get involved as a family event. We thought it would just be a fun, light way of getting people up, because we know again during C-19 a lot of people have become couch potatoes, sitting down, much less active,” Pepera said.

Bodybuilder Samuel Kulbila has gained an international following from posting videos of workouts done with improvised equipment, like concrete weights. Accra, Ghana, July 5, 2020. (Stacey Knott/VOA)

Up in a mountainous area outside the capital, bodybuilder and school teacher Samuel Kulbila is living proof that you don’t need expensive equipment to keep fit. He works out in backyard gyms, where he creates and uses repurposed and improvised gym equipment like cement weights.
This has earned him an international following through his social media posts. He tells followers that there is no excuse not to exercise, and the pandemic makes that even more important.
Kulbila is building his own outdoor gym in his backyard. He has also created a pandemic workout guide for his global followers to use while home.

Bodybuilder Samuel Kulbila is living proof that you don’t need expensive equipment to work out. People have been reaching out to him for advice on how to keep fit while gyms are closed. Accra, Ghana, July 5, 2020. (Stacey Knott/VOA)

“I started getting a lot of messages, DMs and emails, people telling me to help them because their gyms have been closed and they normally see me training in the backyard gyms and they believe I can fix something,” Kulbila said.
Before COVID-19 hit Ghana, fitness coach and mother of two Maabena Antwi held boot camps for women.  
She has also moved her coaching online, working from her apartment in the outskirts of Accra. She’s found she enjoys working from home as she can spend more time with her kids.  

Maabena Antwi used to run popular boot camps for women in Accra; now she does training sessions with them through her phone, from her apartment in Accra, Ghana, July 1, 2020. (Stacey Knott/VOA)

“I’m home so I'm able to give them a little bit more attention and still work. Even though it’s not fetching as much, it's still very lucrative and it’s good. So, I am looking at definitely keeping the online classes,” Antwi said.

These Ghanaian fitness coaches have made the best out of social distancing to promote exercise online.  
But they also hope the motivation and encouragement from the government to stay fit will continue once the pandemic is over.