Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard at the best of times, and a global pandemic is anything but the best of times — with gyms closed, kids home, and the world turned upside down, figuring out how to stay fit, remain active, eat well, and maintain a productive mindset might feel close to impossible — but you can do it. Embrace that something is better than nothing. Your workouts don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to happen. Think consistency — think daily, non-negotiable motion!
Your future self will thank you! Exercise is good for our immune system, our body, and our mind — you will be a more emotionally resilient, focused, compassionate version of you if you move! Plus, in a world filled with things we can’t control, it feels reassuring and positive to control what we can control: our workouts. So, how do you make motion a non-negotiable?
Make a schedule. Be intentional. Have a PLAN to stay fit!
If you don’t consciously create a plan of action and schedule in your workouts, chances are, you will take the path of least resistance — a path likely filled with Netflix and wine!
Schedule in your workouts! Block off time. Decide — in advance — the WWWH of your workouts. What will you do? Dance around your living room? Run your condo stairs? When will you do it? Morning? At lunch? Where will you do it? Do you have a home gym in the garage? Can you follow online workouts on your computer? How will you make it happen? What accommodations do you need to make? Does your spouse have to watch the kids? Do you need to block yourself out of Zoom meetings?
Consider a “family challenge”
Be creative. Base the parameters of the challenge on the number and age of your kids and their interests. Maybe each family member counts how many steps they take throughout day. Everyone has to get creative to accrue steps— “forget” things upstairs, play active video games, pace on conference calls, etc. Or, try a family push-up or squat challenge. The winner gets to pick family movie night or have their favorite meal delivered.
Find the FUN!
Find things you enjoy — or at least that you don’t hate. This pandemic is hard enough; it might not be the time to make yourself suffer through exercise that you despise. Put on some music and dance around! Play semi-active games with your kids such as hide and seek — these types of games may not be a workout, but they require more activity than watching TV. and will help everyone stay fit. Remember, all motion adds up! If you have a yard, consider skipping rope. Another option? Make “dates” with your family to do online workouts. There are so many free and fun options. Try the Fitness Marshall’s dance workouts or Yoga with Adriene.
Make your family your workout partners
It is amazing how hard body-weight partner exercises can be! Here are a few points to stay fit.
Partner-resist side planks: You and your partner both start in a side plank, facing each other, balancing on your left forearms and feet. While holding the side plank, place your right hands palm-to-palm. Holding this position, gently try to push your partner over. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Brace yourself through your core to stay stable.
Plank ball roll: Both partners start in a plank position, on hands and toes. Face away from each other, feet touching. Partner A has any type of ball under their right hand, then rolls the ball under both partners so that partner B has to stop the ball with their hand. Partner B then rolls the ball back to partner A. Keep the hips still and continue to roll the ball back and forth for 20 to 60 seconds.
V-sit partner toss: Face your partner in the V-sit position. Sit on your bum facing your partner, chest out, core engaged. Start with your feet on the ground, knees bent. Toss the ball back and forth. For an added challenge, lift one or both legs.
Consider setting up an inexpensive yet effective home gym
Use a foam roller for core, self-massage, and balance work ($30), a skipping rope for cardio ($10-$20), and resistance bands for strength. I particularly love bands. They are light and inexpensive — roughly $10 — and you can do everything with them, from squats and biceps curls, to lunges and lateral raises, to overhead triceps extensions. If you want to go wild, invest in a door frame attachment (also under $10) that lets you hook the band into any door to create a make-shift cable machine. Then you can replicate any exercise traditionally performed on a cable machine, including wood chops, triceps press-downs, etc.
One of my favorite moves is seated V hold and rows, 12 to 15 reps. These work your core and improve posture — as in they help mitigate the negative effects of sitting all day. Sit on your bum with the band hooked around your feet. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Lean back 10 degrees and hold the lean throughout the motion. Engage your core to stay stable. Use your upper back to row your elbows backward. Imagine cracking a walnut between your shoulder blades. Slowly release.
When it comes to staying active in isolation you have to be creative, you have to have a “find solutions” attitude, and you have to intentionally schedule in workouts. Make moving a priority to stay fit. Then, guard that time!
Kathleen Trotter is a fitness expert, media personality, personal trainer, writer, life coach, certified Pilates and ELDOA instructor, and overall health enthusiast.