Lockdown Life: Getting Creative with Fitness
Finding ourselves in lockdown once again, things tend to become repetitive. Repetition leads to boredom, and boredom to discontentment. It’s apparent that the best way to maintain happy and healthy minds is to keep things fresh and interesting, as well as moving our bodies. But this can be easier said than done, leaving not just January resolution newbies, but hardcore gym-bunnies struggling to find motivation.
Working out at home we don’t have as much environmental separation, making it harder for our brains to shift into “let’s do this” mode. Even if being at the gym doesn’t spark much enthusiasm in you, when you’re already there you kind of just get on with it. Somehow, rolling out a mat on the floor of your living room doesn’t have the same effect.
Like pretty much everyone else in the UK, I was finding it difficult to get back into a routine after the Christmas festivities. This year I couldn’t just roll up to the gym with a friend, I couldn’t take a spin class and have the instructor shout at me whenever I started slacking, I couldn’t hire a PT even if I was feeling boujee as hell. So how did I get back on the fitness train?
With extremely limited equipment and even less motivation, I knew it would be down to two things: consistency and creativity. To solidify my plans, I wrote a weekly schedule on my whiteboard, along with a column for the previous week to compare. I knew that being able to tick this off each day would give me a sense of achievement, as well as making it harder to ignore if I skipped a workout (excluding one or two mandatory rest days, of course).
Everybody’s experience of lockdown is different. Lots of people are working from home, many with children off school, so creating a plan that suits your lifestyle is vital. The main goal is to get a sweat on regularly, so whether you’re doing three separate hours a week of aerobics, five days of 15-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, or a little bit of yoga every morning, you’re doing it right! Little and often is better than one super intense weekly session, leaving you sore and dreading the next.
With my schedule in place, I asked some of the Wicked Women to join me in a Zoom workout, forcing myself to be ready to go by a specific date and time. Thanks to the power of technology, we can still use accountability buddies to keep us on the right track, so I highly recommend joining forces with a friend or family member. Another upside to this is that it helps us to stay connected and creates that wholesome community feeling we all crave.
If there’s nobody in your life who’s up for it, why not join an online community of likeminded people? For example, social media influencers Meggan Grubb, Whitney Simmons and Krissy Cela are passionate about creating safe spaces for women to work on themselves, all with fitness apps available to purchase. But you don’t have to spend any money to find great resources – there are millions of free, high-quality videos on YouTube and Instagram to choose from. Whether you’re into Zumba, Pilates, Aerobics, Dance, Yoga or anything else; you name it, the internet can provide it.
So, now you have the tools to remain consistent, it’s up to you to figure out what you enjoy, and to mix things up regularly to avoid becoming demotivated. Nobody wants to watch the same TV programme over and over again, so why repeat the same workout every single day? Besides, ‘muscle memory’ means that our bodies familiarise themselves with repeated sequences, making them less effective over time. In order to ‘shock the muscle’ and gain greater results, it’s important to make changes.
Looking up variations of each exercise helps too; for example, switching from a plank to a backwards blank, then to plank dips or plank jacks. As well as this, try creating combinations, marrying two different exercises into one fluid movement to target more than one area in a more interesting way.
Personally, I like to format my home workouts as circuits using the ‘Interval Timer’ app, available to everybody with a smartphone. Having set times to work with is perfect for pushing you that little bit further, as you’re more likely to persevere through those painful last reps if you know there’s only a few seconds left.
You can also utilise your surroundings. This could be as simple as using a chair to do tricep dips or Bulgarian split squats but could also mean getting the kids involved and creating a mini obstacle course. If you previously enjoyed HIIT Step classes, why not do some step ups on your garden wall or the bottom of your stairs? As aforementioned, the lack of separation between home and the gym can make it difficult to get in the zone, so if you’re able to create an area specifically designated to working out it will help you to make the mental shift.
If you’re living with your partner, you could rope them into a couple’s routine using their weight for resistance, balancing on them and mirroring one another. Or, if lockdown’s got you sick to death of your significant other, use that as an incentive to pop in your headphones and ignore them while you focus on your fitness goals. It’s a win, win situation!
Even if you’re home alone, take to your social media accounts and have your friends plan a workout, asking each person to choose their favourite – or least favourite – exercise. This is fantastic, as you may find yourself facing the harder moves that you usually avoid.
Looking for silver linings has enabled us to navigate through 2020, and one small positive we can take from working out at home is the creativity involved. When gyms were open, I actively avoided bodyweight movements, and I was in fact a lot weaker than I thought I was. Having to go back to basics and use what I had – a pair of 5kg dumbbells, me, myself and I – taught me to put in maximum effort and forced me into focusing on my weaknesses. Action sparks motivation and motivation encourages more action. It’s a cycle that we can only begin if we move, so get going!
Grace Stokoe is a writer, creator of 'Do You Even Lift Sis?' Follow her here
Do You Even Lift, Sis?' is a feminist weight-lifting guide which aims to empower young women of all backgrounds and abilities. As well as being a beginners guide to weight lifting and promoting sustainable, healthy lifestyle habits, DYELS touches on the intimidation and discomfort women can feel whilst at the gym - often around the male-dominated, heavy-weight sections - teaching them how to deal with this effectively and confidently.