Lockdown inertia: French city-dwellers keep fit on
NANTES, France (Reuters) - As dusk fell over Nantes in western France,
dozens of residents of an apartment block came out onto their balconies for
a half-hour fitness session to beat the inertia of life under lockdown while
the coronavirus sweeps across the country.
Music pumped out as the group put itself through a routine of star jumps,
squats and jogging on the spot. The workout caught on after Pierre
Planchenaud began exercising alone. Before long, his neighbors wanted to
“It meant everyone could relax after a day where you stay shut up indoors
or in isolation,” said Planchenaud, who works in advertising. “It enables
people to have a bit of freedom and take their minds off things.”
France has been under virtual lockdown since March 17 and on Friday
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the unprecedented peacetime
restrictions on public life would remain in place until at least April 15. The
outbreak has killed about 2,000 people in France and sickened 33,000
others, according to official numbers.
Public gatherings are banned, schools and universities are closed and all
non-essential businesses have shut down, with people allowed out of their
homes only to buy groceries, carry out essential work, exercise or seek
Stress caused by fear of the disease is compounded by isolation, mental
health experts say, and the French government has reported a marked
increase in domestic violence during the lockdown.
“We started last night and we’re having a great time with the family. It’s
cool,” said firefighter resident Guillaume Ricquier.
Planchenaud leads the workout from a central courtyard, with the
makeshift class wrapping up just in time to join others nationwide clapping
and cheering in support of the healthcare workers battling to save the lives
of coronavirus sufferers.
“It brings a new energy,” said osteopath Laura Martinez. “We said last night
it needs to keep going after the lockdown.”