Probably the hardest thing during this time of lockdown and social isolation is maintaining any kind of structure in your day. With no (or very few) real markers for the week, one day blends into another and its very easy to lose all motivation to exercise, let alone get dressed before midday.
Like anything, there’s a period of adjustment and as we come to terms with the ’new normal’ our routines will adapt. Keep the faith – and know that even if you succumb to demolishing the biscuit packet before breakfast and skip a few days of movement, your body will start to crave activity soon enough. For some, this could be a great opportunity to allow your body to recover and rest a little (me included!).
But as self-confessed fitness junkie myself, I can relate to reduced motivation levels, diminished interest due to limited access to equipment and finding myself sucked into life indoors behind a laptop screen. My 3 hours of training a day is now sporadic, at times reluctant, and definitely less rewarding than it ever has been. And don’t even talk to me about the effect on my mood or waist line!
1. Plan ahead. Have a structure to your day – book a class, even better if you have to pay for it and it is therefore of value to you. Live Instagram classes are dime a dozen and you have no real incentive to ‘attend’. Record yourself doing the workout. Useful for you to check your own form, but also great as a means to stay accountable to yourself. It’s all too easy to press pause or stop altogether and head for the fridge. Whether you share it with anyone is up to you.
2. If you can’t get motivated to workout, take a walk or a run. You have full permission to do that once a day, EVERY day. Turn that ‘permission’ into a directive. Get the fresh air, get the endorphins. Do all the things.
3. Make sure you keep your routine as close to ‘normal’ as possible. Get out of your dressing gown, shower, and get dressed. Do your hair. Remember how you used to think that a new workout outfit would make you train harder? That still applies. Even if no-one can see you.
4. Do not get sucked into daytime TV. Netflix can wait until after 8pm. Limit instagram scrolling to an hour per day. Ration your access to the news, once a day is plenty. All of this will help your mental state and help you keep a positive outlook that life as we know it will return soon.
5. Take time to work on things that you ‘never have time’ to do. Mobility, flexibility, mindfulness. Do the workouts you never usually have access to. Now that almost everything is online, geographical constraints, work schedules and kids’ bedtimes are no longer in the way. Do the workout at a time and in a place to suit you (social distancing rules allowing). Find a room in your house that no-one will enter while you are doing your ‘thing’. Lock the door if necessary.
6. If home-schooling and endless conference calls make it really difficult to break for a solid hour, break your workout up into 3, 20 minute sections. This is a great way to break the day up and make sure you aren’t sat in one posture-destroying position for too long. If you have teenagers at home, schedule breaks together and do the workout segments as a family. Workout together, laugh together, release tension together. Get competitive if it helps. “My plié is better than yours” etc.,
7. Do your pre-workout prep. Consider what you need equipment and space-wise in advance. Get water ready, a towel maybe. Do you have enough room to lie out on a mat? To reach up and out, to move forwards, backwards or from side-to-side? There’s nothing more frustrating than starting a workout and finding that you can’t complete it because you don’t have the necessary space or tools to do so. If you give yourself any reason to sneak out of the room to find something, all bets are off for whether you’ll resume. Give yourself the best possible chance of success.
8. Break it down. Never has the phrase ‘who knows what tomorrow brings’ held more meaning. Take each day as it comes and don’t expect too much of yourself. We have no idea how long this will go on for, so try to stay present. Think of the phrase ’Summer bodies are made in the Winter’ this is the time that your training counts the most. Work on the rehab, your core strength, trigger points and endurance. Do a wall sit or a plank for a little longer each day. Perfect your press ups. The list goes on.
9. In spite of the isolation, turn social distancing into social solidarity. We will get through it better together. A bit like a barre workout!
10. Remember that you never, EVER feel worse after a workout. So no matter how bad things seem to be, switch off for an hour, immerse yourself in your body, in movement and remind yourself of what you CAN do. You may feel that doing a few squats isn’t going to change anything fundamental, but even if it just lifts the fog a little or changes your perspective - it may make all the difference.
Control the controllable. Everything else is out of your hands. And sometimes that’s actually quite liberating.
Keep the faith that doing a workout a day will see you through this!