Pandemic Exercise, Fatigue and Guilt

As we await news from the government on Tuesday night about what happens on April 5th, I was reminded of an email I sent out last month to our members. I had planned to start a blog when we reopened but I feel like there is no better time than now to share this message of support.

We’re all frustrated, we all want news and we all want our lives back. The process is taking longer than we’d like and we don’t help ourselves by heaping pressure on our backs to workout at 100%.

“Your workout is our warm up!”

“Grip it and rip it!”

“We don’t need machines, we are machines!”

I’m sure you’ve all read or heard one of these quotes, or any number of others telling you workouts have to be all out. That you should leave nothing in the tank, go for broke. That the way to make progress is to put yourself in the pain cave and stay there. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger and all that jazz.

There’s a time and a place and with everything else that is going on, it’s not what we need currently. Exercise is a wonderful thing, with so many benefits, but we need to be mindful that exercise puts stress on the body. If you already have a huge amount of stress in your life with work, with home life while perhaps working at home, home schooling, constant negative news, not seeing your loved ones and countless other stresses that we’re dealing with during this crazy moment in life, then don’t beat yourself up if the last thing you want to do is a workout that grinds you in to the ground.

I know you guys love to work hard, it’s a trait this country was built on. I actively encourage it when we have our clients in the gym and have shouted “faster” and “more intense” countless times, pushing them to achieve things they didn’t believe possible. Just because you’re used to going all in on a workout in normal times doesn’t mean that anything less doesn’t count. Doing a workout at 50% of what you normally would is still a deposit in your “wellbeing bank”. Just doing the warm up and saying that’s me done is still doing something.

I’ve spoken to so many people recently who are struggling with motivation to train, when in normal times exercise is the highlight of their day. I own the bloody gym and I’m struggling for motivation to train. My sole motivation at the moment is that I don’t want to be a fat gym owner. Don’t be too hard on yourself for feeling that way. It’s perfectly normal, and I promise you that you’re not alone.

Try reframing why you’re training. The end goal doesn’t have to be a 100kg back squat, or a PR Fran time. The goal can just be to move. To have some time to yourself. Or to have some time with someone else. Doing some exercise is still a huge positive and something I encourage everyone to do, it just doesn’t have feel like you’re going to die doing it.

If you are struggling with training, or have completely given up, here are a couple of suggestions that might help:

  • Exercise in the morning. We’ve all got a set amount of willpower to be used, and it depletes as the day goes on. If you can get your exercise in before you start your day, and with your willpower is at its strongest, the chances of you doing something are much greater.

  • Pick easier workouts. A 20 minute walk counts as a workout. 3 rounds of 10 push ups and 10 sit ups counts as a workout. Working out while watching The Mandalorian, a Marvel movie or re-runs of The Office is not only acceptable, but I’d highly encourage it. Move. Pick something you love doing. Forget doing things because you want to be better at them, or because they’re your weaknesses. Training should be fun at the best of times, it has to be fun in the current time.

If you’re struggling for actual workout ideas, keep it simple. EMOMs are a great way to get good amounts of work done in short time frames. Take this bodyweight example;

12 minute EMOM (every minute, on the minute)
Minute one – squats
Minute two – push ups
Minute three – lunges
Minute Four – plank
Aim for just 20-30 seconds of work each minute, giving you 30/40 secs rest

Train with someone. If you live with someone, see if they want to do something with you. It doesn’t matter if you have vastly different fitness backgrounds or abilities. Training with someone means you’re accountable to someone, and if you live with them it’s not like you can ghost their calls. If you don’t live with someone, get outside and exercise with someone, video call them and train together. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not doing the same thing.

There’s more than enough going on around the world that will be taking its toll on you. Don’t add to it by being hard on yourself when it comes to exercise, or lack of it. Try doing something. If you don’t manage it today, that doesn’t matter. Try again tomorrow.

The morale of my essay today is to tell you not to feel guilty that you’re not exercising as much as you used to. Instead feel proud of what exercise you are doing. If you need guidance, we’re here if you want to reach out. Whether it’s just advice or if you’re looking for a programmeme, click here to book a virtual appointment with one of our team.

You’re doing great, just keep moving.

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