How we can maintain our well-being during a time of physical distancing
Across the last fortnight our lifestyles significantly changed. The 1.5 to 2m distance rule was enforced and people were asked to self-isolate. We had to consider ways to adapt, change, alter, metamorphise from what we were to an unknown entity: socially, mentally and physically, virtually overnight. For extraverts like me it was a learning curve with a road that was partially blocked, steep, rocky and uncharted.
As a fitness professional and instructor for over 25 years it was surreal. I am an avid gym goer. I love the gym. I love the socialisation, the vibrancy, the energy, the participants, the music, and even the heavy weights. But, what can I do now that gyms are closed? Here's what gym goers, fitness freaks (don’t worry I’m one them) are thinking:
- I can’t lift those heavy weights at the gym anymore.
- I can’t attend my PT oval session.
- I don’t have a gym at home.
- I can’t see my gym buddies.
It’s a flood of emotions. Tied tightly together are a series of conunudrums, they include: mental health, exercise, eating right, socialisation, equipment and friends. What do we do? How do we keep fit? Still socialise? Eat well? Who will guide me?
We have a lot of questions.
To put it into perspective after a bit of research I uncovered that the number of gyms and fitness centres and exercise facilities in Australia has grown immensely over the years. Not to mention specific fitness studios and personal training are thriving and expanding in Australia. Its huge! You can all see its popularity and increase online and the way we have embraced better eating and exercising more in our communities.
According to Glofox: ‘More than 62.5 million gym members visit the gym 104 days per year while 9 million non-members hit the gym an average of 24 days every year. About 18% of members actually go to the gym consistently. Out of those who actively use their gym membership, 49.9% get to the gym at least twice a week.'
As a Les Mill instructor in Body Combat, RPM and Body Attack I uncovered that on any given day more than one million around the world participate in a Body Pump class. Wow again!
It’s not the young but the general population who love attending and participating in fitness classes all over the world.
Physical distancing means people will have to spend more time at home and this inevitably will provide less time or opportunities to be physically active, even if you were an originally an outdoor physically active person. I am so happy we can still go for walks even at 2m apart distance. But all those other sports like basketball, netball, even Karate are suspended.
Like lots of people I am worried about the impact of not being able to spend time at the gym or doing regular exercise and our mental health.
Without exercise to music classes, PT’s, and your gym-pals, how will we motivate ourselves? We don’t have the 30 other people in the gym class, or the instructor shouting ‘turn that gear up, climb team!’ We don’t have that annoying gym groupie who takes off on the run before people have heard the instructor’s final instructions of what route to take. You know the one!
Working out the gym definitely also gave you a sense of achievement. As a regular gym goer who has an obsession with lifting the heavy weights, I totally understand. I don’t have a squat rank in my home with 20kg sets of weights, nor a Smith’s machine, nor a leg press, shoulder press, nor all those other dumb-bells. No TRX straps, medicine balls, not even a punching bag!
Yes I'm unprepared, and I'm conscious that all this sitting at home means more Netflix, more snacks, and more sitting at the lap-top. All unfortunately sedentary!
We need to shift that dial. For our mental health and fitness. Exercising three times a week is what we should all aim for along with muscle strengthening as well. Remember any activity is better than nothing. So, while we can still go for a walk, run, bike ride, push the pram, take the dog for a walk, throw the frisbee, play handball against a wall, shoot the backyard basketball, skip, jump, crunch outside. Do IT!!
The first week of working from home for me was tough. Previously, I was someone who was extremely active and in a work place where I was constantly moving. Combined with also being a Fitness instructor I never really stood still for too long. Last week I started to notice I was sitting for long periods of time, my food intake had become irregular, and sometimes I was too tired in the evening to get on my execise bike.
That's ok. New habits need to be established, and that might take a little time. Be kind to yourself as you navigate this shift, and most importantly embrace online.
With school now online, universities online, retail online ... yes, even gyms are online. Exercise goes online, PT’s are online.
“The average person can get fit and stay fit in the confines of their bunker.” Certified personal trainer Bryan Goldberg told Business Insider. We can do this!
Start exploring some of the online options available for you, via Instagram, YouTube, or even your local gym, or yoga studio (they will likely have online sessions you can attend). Try out some new styles, and then start a new routine. Super important in uncertain times.
If you have an outdoor area like a baloney, lawn space, or garage. you can incorporate shuttle runs and circuits. In smaller areas you can still undertake core strength routines, for example, push-ups and squats. Home workouts that employ body weight and can be done on everyday surfaces are extremely effective.
Dance, go on put the music on! Download free exercise apps on your phone or device. Some use equipment some don’t. Dance to maintain fitness has always been a great way to exercise as it can be extremely vigorous along with the established mental health benefits. Why not download a concert and dance in the kitchen or lounge room? Who cares! No one’s watching!
Invest in some exercise bands: they come in different tensions and sizes. The amount of exercises you can do are unbelievable. Bicep curls, upright rows, leg extensions, not to mention all the other leg workouts you can do. You can Google or YouTube for ideas.
Alongside this: clean out the pantry. Spending a lot of time at home can be conducive to eating. Let's pre-empt this by stocking the pantry with healthy foods. Keep it fresh: fruits and vegetables. Healthy eating doesn't need to be hard, keep it simple.
You can also stay in touch with your gym friends with Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp etc. This is super important for people living alone or in isolation. If you or one of your friends are tech savvy and in the last week, I think all of us have taken a monumental leap in this department with online teaching and learning, be the person to make the first move and connect. Staying connected is important and staying in touch is a great way to manage the quarantine melancholy.
You need to take breaks from your working from home desk. Take a break from your laptop or computer - every 30 minute block. Walk around the house for a 1-2 minutes. Take phone calls standing. Walk up and down the stairs. Go outside and breathe the fresh air in the garden, front or back balcony, play with the dog.
These are only a few suggestions. Even with limited space and no exercise equipment. But a sedentary lifestyle is not good for anyone socially, mentally and physically. With self-isolation, we don’t want long term health problems so focus on doing something at very least a few times per week or per day.
Let's start the week with a new routine, jot down a few deliverables per day, to keep you on track and accountable.
Stay fit and fabulous team fitness!