You would think, with all of this extra time at home on our hands, it’d be easy to fit an online fitness session into the schedule.
But that’s not necessarily the case as we adjust our lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When people sleep in, eat breakfast whenever they want or don’t get outside, their whole daily routines fall apart. They miss their online classes because they simply lose track of time. Some of us have to concentrate pretty hard in order to remember what day it is.
When we’re busy, when we have to be up at 7 a.m. to make breakfast for the kids, get them to school by 8:30 a.m. and be in the office for a 9 a.m. meeting, we’re also likely to make it to the gym for the lunch-hour sessions. We make it part of our routine to pack our gym clothes. The busier we are, the more likely we are to stick to our fitness regimens.
So, how to make sure we get ourselves off our couches?
“It’s important to not get lost in the feeling that there is no structure,” says Zita Dube-Lockhart, a behavioural specialist, Top 40 Under 40 member from the class of 2019 and co-founder of Generate Fitness, which has about 50 people in its online group and another 20 private members working in private sessions.
“How do you create your ‘normal’ in a quarantine situation?”
“The biggest thing to staying motivated is building a routine,” says Dr. Derek Lampshire of ATHX Performance, located in the west end. “With all of the changes to our schedule we have all lost our routine. Watching Netflix until midnight and eating Doritos is not a routine. What we have found is that a lot of people have lost their purpose right now. Kids aren’t playing sports, gyms are closed and people’s races have been cancelled.”
So, it is important to understand what being around the house does to the human body. It’s important to understand what stress and anxiety — which many of us get whenever we turn on the television news or go on social media — does to us and our eating habits.
Dube-Lockhart says that many of the one-size-fits-all online training programs tend to be aimed towards advanced audiences, so it’s important to find online training options that still allow for interaction with the instructors. Just like you’d get coached in the gym, or the support you’d get from an instructor, you need that in an online learning environment as well.
Erin Baker can’t see her garuda clients in person, but, she turned the distance into opportunity.
Baker is the proprietor of True Movement, a garuda studio located in Edmonton’s High Street area. When the world was normal — remember those heady times? — she and her team of instructors offered one-on-one classes and group sessions, where clients did mat work or used machines for arm and leg work.
Now, because they can’t see their clients in person during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re doing online classes. And they’ve been so popular, Baker will keep doing online sessions going even after Alberta Health tells us that we can all go back to our normal routines.
Baker has worked with NHL and other elite hockey clients, as garuda promotes flexibility and can also be used to rehab injuries. Word of mouth has spread, and she’s doing virtual sessions with more than 80 NHL, American Hockey League and Western Hockey League players. Athletes are tuning in from around the world to have Baker take them through their sessions.
While pro athletes might be doing more strenuous working out than some of her other clients, there’s a constant: Accountability.
“Because of the community True Movement has built, we’re an accountability factory,” she says.
In a time when people are spending most of their time at home, and don’t have routines, it’s easy for workout times to get forgotten. The funny thing is that, the more time people have on their hands, the less accountable they become. They don’t eat at regular times. They wake up … whenever. And that means, if they used to have regular workout times, they get forgotten, too.
So, Baker says instructors have to do more than simply do online classes or post videos to YouTube. They need to follow up with their clients. They need to check on how they’re doing — and if they’ve done the workouts. In a gym, the instructor is your guide, and you shouldn’t be abandoned if you’re working out at home. That instructor can be there for you, via phone or through online channels.
“Even if they can’t come here right now, these people are still our clients,” she says. “We care about them. We care about their mobility. We were forced to change our way of thinking.”
The irony is that, because of the move to online classes, people outside of Edmonton, including many NHL players, are discovering Baker’s class.
It’s easy to lose sight of your goals when you’re in isolation. But you need to try and hold onto them.
A lot of people work out not only to get fit, but to prep themselves for races or team sports. They want to build their endurance so they can be better hockey or soccer players. They want to improve timing and strength for baseball, or flexibility for basketball. They want to prep for marathons or triathlons. What to do when there are no games or events for which to prepare?
“Without a purpose it is really hard to build a routine,” says Lampshire. “We have encouraged our athletes to use this time to improve themselves. For example, a youth baseball player can use this time to work on getting faster and stronger. We have created a purpose for the athlete, as opposed to just exercising because I should or because I have nothing to do. Runners can use this time to improve their fitness and/or running mechanics. By finding this purpose we can then build a routine. A routine needs to be written down in order to keep ourselves accountable. Once we have initiated this purpose and routine it will take about a week to then make it a process. Once it is a process, then we are set up for continued success during this time of uncertainty. It is very important to keep your physical well-being because that will help with your mental state.”
Quarantines and social-isolation measures are bad for diets. Many of us, even if we tell our friends that we’re not panic shopping, have panic shopped. Refrigerators and freezers are full. Pantries are stocked. We have enough boxed pasta and soup cans to last us for weeks.
“There is no scarcity, but there’s a feeling of scarcity.” says Dube-Lockhart. “And stress triggers hormones that kicks up our desire to eat.”
Humans of the 21st century still follow genetic programming passed down to us from the cavemen of eons ago. When we panic, or we feel stress, our programming tells us we need to eat and eat and eat to build up fat. As Dube-Lockhart says, like any animal, humans will try to store fat when they feel “evolutionary risk.”
“Healthy eating can be very difficult at this time,” Lampshire says. “When we have stress it is very easy to binge eat and to also eat the wrong foods.”
So not are we only sitting at home, but we might feel the need to raid the kitchen after listening to one of Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s news conferences.
So, even though you might not have a schedule, tell yourself to eat at your regular mealtimes. Honour the times that you used to go and work out.
“You still should try and work out at the same time you did at the gym,” says Dube-Lockhart. “Your body is phased to do it.”
But, if you succumb to the need to cheat, don’t hate yourself. You are only human. The thing is to not turn cheating into an everyday thing. Drink lots of water, even when you’re on the couch.
“I would not stress out too much about cheat eating right now because that is normal for dealing with stress,” says Lampshire. “What we want to control is when and how often we are cheat eating … Make sure that you are drinking enough water in your day. By maintaining your hydration, you will have less cravings than you would otherwise. For example, very rarely when you are drinking a glass of water do you feel like having a bowl of chips. If you are not hydrated enough, your want for the bowl of chips will be much higher. Also, once you have started to eat your bowl of chips you will most likely want a soda to go with the chips. Now we are on the cycle of bad eating habits. It all starts with making sure that we are always hydrated.
“Allow yourself one day of the week to have no rules to eating. This will allow you to fulfill those needs but to have some structure to it. The other six days of the week will be much easier to cope with this strategy. Also, this can help with late-night eating. On our cheat day we can do whatever we want and on other days we try to maintain more structure. If you have a craving late at night on a no cheat day, grab yourself a glass of water.”