Has lock-down led you to increase your fitness routine or lose all motivation and totally give-up? I’ve noticed that lock-down has affected everyone differently. Some clients have found that without the daily commute they have been able to schedule in more classes and exercise than normal, benefiting from feeling stronger and fitter than ever and taking full advantage of all the live on-line classes available to them. Other clients have found that their usual exercise routine has been thrown out the window and are struggling to fit in exercise around home schooling and the demands placed upon them by having everyone at home. Others are simply struggling to find the motivation to do any exercise at all, which can affect their physical and mental wellbeing.
Despite the grave seriousness of the pandemic we find ourselves in, we can choose to use our time in lock-down positively and productively and work towards a happier and healthier version of ourselves.
Here are my top tips for achieving your fitness goals safely and effectively at home during lock-down.
Form & technique – Whatever you do, do it with good form and technique. I am a big believer of it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it! When you exercise with good form and technique, not only do you get more from the exercises when they are performed correctly, but it is super important for the health, safety and longevity of your body.
How do you know if you are exercising with good technique? First, do a live class where the teacher can see you, as opposed to something pre-recorded on You Tube. Ensuring my clients have good technique and are safe is my number one priority. I restrict my ZOOM classes to a size that enables me to see everyone on my large TV screen so that I can give guidance, teaching points and correction where needed.
Secondly, try filming yourself whilst exercising. Although most people hate to watch themselves on camera, it is actually really useful, and you will see where you are losing form or not doing something correctly. Particularly focus on the position of your head, spine and knees (they are the vulnerable areas, more on the spine below).
If you are still unsure ask a teacher, I am happy to watch people’s home exercise videos and give feedback, or you could have a virtual private class with a teacher to go over any technique points. I have done this with a few new clients and they now have a good understanding of fundamental technique points, and I can also tailor classes to their needs.
Finally, listen to your body. If something does not feel right, it most likely isn’t right and you may be doing an exercise incorrectly or that is not suitable for you.
Prioritise your spine and posture – My biggest concern for people exercising at home and without supervision or guidance is the risk of injury. The most common risk I see is to the back, mainly where people perform exercises with poor spine alignment, i.e. not in neutral spine, and most usually with a rounded upper back or forward head position. It is common to see this rounding of the upper back and neck due to the prevalence of poor posture in society today. I also notice that when clients are fatigued, they lose their form, particularly their posture, so don’t feel bad about taking a break or an easier level, your spine will thank you for it. So whatever exercise you are doing make sure you prioritise your spine, engage your core muscles to help support your back and practise good posture.
Choose classes suitable for you – Ensure the class, video or exercise is suitable for your needs and abilities. For example, if you have injuries, haven’t exercised for ages or have recently just had a baby, don’t pick a dynamic or boot camp style class. Now that I am able to offer ZOOM classes it has opened up the wonderful opportunity to do very specific tailored classes so that there is something for everyone.
Struggling with motivation or commitment?
Book onto a live class – Yes there are lots of free exercise videos out there, but you can’t pause a live class! Most clients tell me that unless it is a live class, they allow themselves to get distracted and either don’t end up finishing the video or it takes them twice as long! Also, if you book onto a class, it is scheduled in your diary and therefore more likely to happen, rather than leaving it to your motivation to feel ready to do your home workout.
Exercise in the morning – Most people find it easier to commit to exercising in the morning before the day’s responsibilities get in the way. It also means you get to put to use those feel-good endorphins released during your morning workout. That said, if you are a night owl, schedule exercise to signal the end of your working day; exercising will help switch your brain off and allow you to have a more relaxing evening and good night’s sleep.
Start with small realistic goals – The more specific you are with your goals the easier it will be to fulfil them, but be realistic too! Unrealistic goals kill motivation.
Write it down – Write down your exercise plan. For example, I am trying to keep my upper body strong whilst pregnant, so I committed myself to doing 3 upper body weight exercises 4 times a week and recorded it on my exercise card that requires me to tick off each day that I have done my exercises. I love ticking things off on my to-do list so I get a double feel-good hit.
Feeling down, alone and isolated?
Join a class – We are extremely fortunate to have such wonderful technology that enables us to connect with people all from the comfort of our home. It’s surprising the shift in people’s moods and energy when they connect with each other over live videos and come together for their exercise. It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of running classes on-line, to bring my Pilates and yoga community back together. So, if you have not felt like joining in, give it a go and you may be surprised how much better you feel for connecting with people in a similar situation and all doing a class together.
Endorphin release – One of my favourite things about exercise is that it makes me feel good! As the saying goes, you are only one class away from a good mood!
Energy is contagious – Joining a group where their energy is positive and high will beneficially impact you. Whatever we are thinking and feeling we project onto others and can impact them. That’s why positivity is not just about you. It’s about everyone around you. If we are thinking or feeling negatively, we can impact others in a negative way. If we are positive, it not only benefits ourselves, but we impact others in a positive way. That’s why the decision to be positive is so important.
Struggling with time?
Short bursts of exercise – Rather than thinking you have to commit to an hour’s class or exercise, find a shorter class to do, or do short bursts of exercise throughout the day to break it up. You will actually be more productive for it and it will give your batteries a good re-charge. Write down a plan of what exercises you are going to do in a day and then tick them off when you have done them. For example, do one minute of push-ups, back to work, one minute of squats, back to work etc. We all have time for one-minute bursts of exercise and they do add up throughout the day.
Make exercise family time too – By making time to exercise together as a family, you can spend fun, quality time with your children whilst helping them form healthy habits for life. I know not all children will find exercise fun, but there are ways of making it fun. When I did a HIIP (High Intensity Interval Pilates) class, it was lovely to see so many children jump off the sofa to join in with what mummy or daddy was doing (obviously some particular exercises look more fun to children than others!).
Combine housework with exercise – Put some upbeat music on and put some effort into your housework to get your heart rate up! Hoovering and mopping floors can and make you break into a sweat, also the forward and back motion of vacuuming is a great workout for your abdominal muscles (just make sure you engage your core whilst doing it and you will feel your abs working to support your back). Add some lunges as you hoover. Break up chores with short bursts of exercise. For example, do some free-weight or body weight exercises for a couple of minutes, then do some dusting as your recovery. Really put some effort into cleaning those windows or scrubbing the bathroom, make sure you alternate arms (you can even add arm weights to make your arm and shoulder muscles work harder). Finally, set a timer and try cleaning super energetically until the timer stops – this will also help you keep your focus on the task at hand.
If you have any questions, or would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Elizabeth at email@example.com