It’s been, what, five weeks - no, six, since the doors of Climb Fit were shuttered to the public, and working out at home has proven to be a bit of a struggle.
While staying safe and healthy right now equates to being socially distanced, maintaining your mental health is also a key player during this crisis. And, as so many of you know, mental health fluctuates dramatically when exercise is taken out of the equation. Keeping fit from home does not mean your only option is to squat in place for 30 minutes a day. In fact, we really wouldn’t suggest doing that, unless you’re looking for some intense boredom, and hatred towards squats...
If you’re feeling less than motivated to strap on your running shoes, you’re not alone. The world shutting down is, to put it nicely, a bit shocking for us all. The fear of everything unknown is pretty overwhelming, and it feels like everyone is waiting with held breaths to see what the next step of this crisis is.
But, when you are ready, exercise will be waiting for you. And yes, it’s not exactly what you have been forced to leave behind: even if you have a home gym, it’s not the same as a trip to Climb Fit with friends. And that’s okay.
If what you’re struggling with is finding a routine, now is the time to set one up. Put time aside for yourself, put on your exercise clothes that are likely at the bottom of the hamper, and yes, start working out. Taking time for your health will not only be great for your lungs, heart, and muscles but a fantastic release. You know that fulfilment you feel after you’ve conquered a climbing route that had seemed impossible months earlier? That pure feeling of “I did that?” It’s yours for the taking even with at-home workouts.
So, if you find that you’re busier than you were before the shutdown, what are some ways to combat that and give yourself time back?
Sleeping in is fun, but this is a new normal, and it’s time to drag your butt out of bed at a decent time. If you’re working from home and pop on to a Zoom meeting at 8, but feed your kids breakfast at 7, it’s time to start getting up at 6, not 6:59. Does this take a lot of motivation? Ugh, yes.
That bed is so comfortable in the morning, and that snooze button is just so convenient. Stop pressing it! If you need some motivation to get out of bed, check out some tips here; a favourite tip is to put your alarm clock across the room, but this might only work if you’re a light sleeper, and could in fact just annoy your spouse as they stumble across the room to turn it off.
Is your work flexible?
If so, you might want to get up early, work for a couple hours, then take an hour break to go for a run, practise some parkour (offering a similar adrenaline rush, without the climbing gym) or learn a new exercise routine. Check out our Facebook for home workouts and YouTube training tips. Exercising in the morning can help increase that productive feeling you may have been lacking these past several weeks.
A routine is ideal, but right now, enough is going on that beating yourself up because your workout was shorter, different than you expected, or entirely lacking in PRs is not going to help you and is just another source of unnecessary stress.
If you find yourself half-way through Tuesday before you’re tying on some trainers because you were too sore on Monday, allow yourself to not get upset. Forcing yourself to workout can lead to a lack of motivation, and you might toss your hands up in the air in frustration entirely. Just remember, working out at all is going to be better than quitting cold-turkey.
If what you’re accustomed to is getting to the gym and being ready to climb the wall, you might be a little flustered with how to go about even starting a new workout routine. Everything was set up for you there, and now you’re lifting gallon water jugs as weights. If you’d like, check out the workout routines we posted on our Facebook, or spend 5 or 10 minutes online researching some new ways to integrate different aspects into your home gym.
If you plan your workout the night before, your excitement to exercise is less likely to dwindle. And, if you really think a climbing wall is all you need to stay motivated, check out the blog here on how to build your own. If you’re motivated by seeing constant improvement and are an addict to before-and-after photos and stories, document your own in a workout journal. Each evening before you hit the hay, skim over your workout from the previous session, any stats you’ve written down, and then jot down a plan for the next morning.
If you thrive with details, include as many as you’d like, from how many pushups to how many times to jump rope. If you find that stifling, consider limiting how much information you want to portray to your future self, such as “go for a 30-minute run, followed by stretching.” If your new exercise routine consists of using specific equipment - a jump rope, a dumbbell set, your water bottle, or even an online workout video, get those things ready so that when you pop out of bed, there’s even less reason to not feel motivated. Put out your clothes and shoes -don’t forget the socks, which seem impossible to find in the fog of early morning- and you’re set for the next day!
Without the community that a gym environment offers, there’s no more friendly competition, and there’s no outside support to keep on going when you feel you just can’t reach that next handhold. Hey, you might lose some of the muscle from years of rock climbing, it’s true. You don’t have the same equipment at home, and you’re not surrounded by the same fitness fanatics. Guess what? That doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Doing anything, even if it’s less than you used to do, is better than nothing.
Your workouts right now are likely serving a different purpose than they were just a few months ago, and keeping them simple may, in fact, help keep you motivated to continue doing them. The goal of working out is not to make you feel like you’re missing out on your past life; changing your perspective on what to expect from your workouts might be what you need to do. And in doing so, remind yourself not to overthink it.
Ask yourself: what is something that you can commit to without feeling like your overpromised something to yourself? If it’s committing to walking 15 Kms a week or riding your bike on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, that’s okay. Just like any other routine, find what you know you can stick to first. When you begin reaching those goals, you’ll likely want to expand on them because, let’s be honest, moving feels good and releases endorphins.
If you don’t want to go the route of online workouts, well, don’t. The reason you loved going to the gym before was that you had found an activity that you wanted to pursue; it wasn’t just to keep fit. Finding something like that at home can be tougher.
Start simple: do a dumbbell routine of lunges, Romanian deadlifts, bent-over rows, and squats. Do several rounds of ten of each of these, and consider switching it up throughout the week with other dumbbell exercises as you see fit.
If you’re looking to add a challenge to see how you can improve, try doing one specific exercise twice a week to see how far you’ve come, such as planks, wall-sits, or pushups. Keep it simple, and don’t overthink what you’re doing.
Socially distancing is not easy, and there are times when working out at home might be the very last thing you’d want to do. Guess what? That’s okay. There are going to be hard days ahead, so focus on eating as well as you can, getting enough sleep each night, and focusing on the positive.
This crisis is temporary, but it is impactful. Spend time doing things that bring you joy, and remind yourself that you have your health. Don’t look back on the past five weeks with regret that you haven’t worked out enough, or be angry that you missed a workout. Right now is the time that it is okay to slow down, and yes, that might even mean missing a workout to chat with a loved one on the phone or bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies to share with your family.
The workout will still be there later...