If you’re like me and you’re exercise routine has been completely turned upside down right now because you can’t get out and exercise as often as you would like or because the gym is closed, you’ll be finding lockdown hard.
I love exercising and had gotten myself into a brilliant routine; gym classes on particular days or set times I would go to the gym, knowing that was the hour or so that I was solely focused on exercise. In fact, my motivation for the gym was at an all- time high prior to the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown so I felt devastated knowing I couldn’t go to the gym. My focus was never on cardio but on tone and body shape so not having access to the machines immediately deflated my mood. I love exercising for my mental health as well as my physical health and despite being so motivated before lockdown, have really found it difficult since being confined to my flat and only allowed out once a day.
For those of you who have signed up to take part in events, whether they were ones that have now been cancelled or those planned for later in the year, where we still don’t know if they will go ahead; it might be difficult to maintain your motivation to train and keep active. But you can do it!
I hope to share some tips which you might find helpful during this time; to help you continue your training, keeping your body and mind healthy and active.
Accepting things are different just now
As with everything in life just now, we are all adjusting to coping with “normal life” while going through a global pandemic. It’s important that we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves to maintain our usual routines. There is nothing usual about what we are all facing. For me, this was accepting that I can’t maintain my usual routines of activity – going to the gym 4 or 5 times a week and that that might have an impact on my body and mind. That was the first step in allowing me to stop stressing about it and realise I need to work a new plan out, rather than stressing about not being able to continue my previous plan.
If your event has already been cancelled and you had started training or if you are unsure about a future event, you can still train.
Body, mind and soul
We all know that exercise is good for our body and mind. It releases endoprhins which make us feel good, increase productivity and motivation… but I admit, even though I know how good I feel after a run or a workout, finding the motivation has been and continues to be tough. My mood changes daily and it sometimes takes me half an hour just to work myself up enough to get moving. It doesn’t matter whether you were planning the Kiltwalk, to run a marathon or take part in the Big Fun Run – everyone will have done or wanted to do some level of training to increase their fitness. Even if you are a super fit runner or athlete, Coronavirus has had a massive impact on every aspect of our daily lives; motivation for lots of things is low and we are all learning how to cope with day to day living with changes to our usual routines. So if you have planned to take part in an event and want to keep up with training but finding it hard or even if you haven’t and are just struggling to be motivated to do normal chores, there are things you can do in and around the home to help.
Make the most of what you have
Everyone’s living space is different… I don’t have a big private garden and I don’t have weights at home. I also live in a ground floor flat so deciding how I am going to train and what I can use, has been hard. But, there are lots of options and things we can do to keep up with resistance training and cardio. You don’t have to run 10k everyday and have all the same gym gear you are used to using. Put those ideas in a “box” and focus on what you can do now. What will bring you joy for your mind and maintain your physical health and wellbeing? Start small, work out a routine for you and then build up. Furthermore, even if you can’t compete in a mass participation event that you had planned, you could complete it on your own and still continue fundraising. Here are some things you could try.
- Work out your goal: Are you trying to manage weight, maintain or increase your fitness level or is it that you want to feel happier and more productive or motivated in every day tasks and just want to make sure you and your family are keeping active without a clear goal in mind.
- Use a walking or run app such as Map My Run or Strava – this will let you see you progress and help your motivation to increase your distance or achieve the same distance in less time. Physically seeing our achievements does so much in showing we can do it and helps us focus on our end goal.
- 3-5k walk or run (or cycle) from your door, once per day as allowed. Take in and enjoy what you see and hear; bird tweeting or kids in their garden playing and know that right now, you are giving your body sunlight, fresh air and keeping moving – however long it takes you, it doesn’t matter. Acknowledge what we have around us.
- Aim for small improvements. Nobody is expecting miracles from you and our long -term goal seems so much further away. Instead, focus on very small increases in achievement each day and acknowledge and celebrate them. This week I have run the same 5k route twice and the second time, achieved a 10s reduction per km. That’s an achievement for me and I will then use that as my next starting point.
- Is there a route nearby you that has stairs? If so, incorporate that into your daily walk or run. I live half- way up a fairly steep hill so I start by walking to the top of it and then completing my loop back to the flat. It lets me get the hardest part out of the way first but is also great for working the legs.
- No weights at home… no problem. Use what you have. It might not be the best equipment or what you are used to at the gym but it’s better than nothing. Use your furniture as your bench. My couch allows me to do tricep dips and split squats. Wine bottles have become my dumbbells. I don’t allow myself to get off the couch to do something else without doing 10 squats. When I’ve been working out at home, Banana has also been keen to join in too!
- Download a home workout app or fitness plan. Many of them are free just now and I’ve put a list at the end. I am a member of Pure Gym and our trainers have been fantastic, sharing their class programmes for us to do at home and online training sessions. Have a look and see if there are trainers you can ask for help.
Something to look forward to
Finally, I am trying to remind myself that this lockdown won’t be forever. Yes, it’s going to take time and right now, it’s most important to look after myself mentally. Maintaining some level of physical exercise is important but I’m trying to remember that nobody will mind if I gain a few pounds or I need to start lifting lower weights when I get back to the gym. I will build it back up and so will you. I’m also thinking how amazing it will feel when we can go back outside or to the gym and right now, I’m being reminded of all the things I really miss and won’t take for granted again, so am likely to give it even more when we are able to.
So just do what you can and celebrate the small wins. Everyone is in the same boat and coming through the other side of this pandemic is the main thing! I would also highly recommend downloading a meditation app and doing a short meditation each day to help you focus and release anxiety which in itself helps motivate us to work out.
So if it’s just for you or to keep you training to complete your event (even if you do it alone), we are still here to support you in your training, keep you motivated and help you achieve your personal and fundraising goal.
Lastly – even personal trainers and athletes are human beings and are also adapting to not being able to train. Be kind to yourself during this extremely challenging and difficult time.
Some free workout apps (available on play store):
- Map my walk
- Map my run
- Freeletics Training Coach – Bodyweight and Mindset
- Home Workout – no equipment
- 30 Day Fitness Challenge
- 7 mins workout