Staying Motivated at Home During Lockdown

Staying Motivated at Home During Lockdown by Aime 

20th March 2020, 5pm U.K time - My Birthday….Oh…and the The Prime Minister announces that the U.K will go into full lockdown from that weekend in a bid to control the virus.  This is the last time you can go out for food, get a hair cut, go to your favourite clothes shops, go to the gym….normal life as we know it is about to be grind to a halt.

My name is Aime and I'm a Physiotherapist from England, like the world my life has been turned upside down over what is coming up to a year!  It's been bittersweet, while my line of work has allowed me to continue working throughout the pandemic, I've also been working on the frontline.  Why would a Physio be working in the frontline? All they do is massage right? Wrong! I am a care of the elderly physio working in A+E, a huge part of any physios career working in a hospital setting is respiratory care, so with a virus affecting the respiratory system plus all our usual patients that come in to the hospital, we’ve been kept pretty busy! 

For me, exercise has always been an ‘escape’ and part of my routine, before qualifying as a Physio, I was 17 when I qualified as a gym instructor and I've been a gym user since I was 16 up until March 2020.  Ive always been active and after leaving university I quit horse riding and team sports and really just used the gym and classes (mainly Spin) as my exercise regime.  About 4 years ago I took up running as I felt like I needed a new challenge.

So when Bo Jo announced the first national lockdown, one of my main concerns was ‘well, what am I going to do, I cant run everyday, and I HATE working out from home!’ Little did I realise the impact the virus was going to have and for how long. I quickly saw that my worries about not being able to go to the gym were extremely low on my new priority list.  My priority became work and along with my colleagues looking after very sick patients and I think we can all agree to some extent, being their family in the last days of life as no one was allowed in to visit for safety reasons. 

But when exercise is part of your routine and the time you use out of a stressful day to unwind or not think about what has happened in those previous hours….well….what do you do?

So that’s why I wanted to come here to talk about my journey and hopefully inspire others who may be struggling with the current climate and find peace or a happy place with your workouts and self care.

As I mentioned, I've been a gym user for well over 10 years, the thought of being forced to have to complete home workouts filled me with dread.  I just didn’t have the motivation to change into workout gear after a day at work to workout in the living room.  My outlook on home works was:

  • They are ok if you cant make it to the gym for a couple of days for some reason, like working away or the gym is shut for a refurb 
  • They aren’t as effective 
  • How can you improve with no equipment - id go to HIIT classes at the gym but to do this everyday? No thanks!
  • Well I could go for run, I love running now, but what if its too hot, too cold, again, I cant do this everyday
  • Its boring 
  • I have no equipment…..sooooo 
  • How am I going to keep up improving my running if I don’t have access to weights?
  • Im going to have to workout twice as hard/as much and everyday to get any kind of benefit 
  • Why am I paying to workout from home? Some of these platforms are nearly expensive as the gym

So I reluctantly signed up to a home work out platform - it helped they were giving NHS workers free trials and discounted membership.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it, I didn’t have any weights at home and you could not buy them for love nor money, clearly everyone else had the same idea and bought out the equipment as soon as Boris shut us down.

I took to running…a lot, but come May/June, something wasn’t right, my HR was peaking at 180bpm after 5 min and I was completely out of breath after a few metres of running.  I’d later find out I had positive antibodies for covid, I cant say it was this for certain, but it took 2 months to improve and I believe although I may have had some minor symptoms early on, that covid was the cause for this change in my physiology.  

So here I am, 5 months in to lock down, feeling no sense of achievement, I'm working out on and off at home, I currently hate running and I can feel myself putting on a bit of weight, right now all my concerns about working out from home are being validated.  

But a shining beacon of hope arose, lockdown restrictions were being eased and gyms were able to reopen, I immediately reinstated my membership, I was going back to spin 3 x a week and using the weights which I missed so much.  But, 6 weeks later and rising cases meant lockdown 2.0.  Gyms closed again and we are back were we started.  

By this time I had managed to get hold of some 2kg weights and 4kg kettlebells, so I restarted the home workout platform I had used before, but something was a miss still for me. My best friend loves this particular workout team and looking fabulous I might add, but while I was getting more out of it the 2nd time around having weights, I wasn’t excited by it, I didn’t get home wanting to do it, it was just a formality.  I was also, at 32 diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis, affecting the joints in the hands my feet so lots of high impact, jumpy jumpy workouts weren’t good to be doing all the time and I found due to loss of joint range in my wrists things like press ups were really difficult.

So in November I decided to have a shake up, I was fed up with the way I looked, not having anything to look forward to (I should have been heading to WDW for marathon weekend in January, when this got cancelled I just didn’t have anything to work to) and I needed to feel a sense of achievement. I had been toying with idea of getting a spin bike for at home, but taking this kind of investment meant it would be very unlikely I would rejoin a gym due to the financial cost of having a bike and the class membership.  So what steps did I take:

  • I joined a free trial with FiiT home workouts
  • I started a couch to 5k programme 
  • After months of deliberation - I ordered a bike!
  • I was lucky enough to be picked in the ballot for the London Landmarks Half Marathon 2021with a training plan starting end of Jan 2021

FiiT has been a game changer, I absolutely love it, finally I after numerous trials I found a home workout platform that I related to, I managed to get hold of more weights and I cant say why this one works for me but it does, something clicked with the workouts and the instructors and I got that spark back.  

I chose to go back to basics for running, I fell out of love with it over the summer and with no planned Disney races (the reason I run) I chose to start again and it was the best thing I did, short runs, mixture of running and walking and going out to get fresh air made me feel so much more positive, little achievable goals are so important.  

I have also this week had my bike delivered and I feel like me again, I've done a couple of classes and Ive decided to call my bike The Unicorn! Im taking the unicorn for a spin, I'm going to hop on my unicorn for ride to Disney (oh yes, there are Disney music themed classes), I’m keeping it FUN!! 

So as we are in lockdown 3.0,  has my attitude to home workouts changed? You bet it has!

  • You can see results from home workouts 
  • I cant see myself becoming a full gym member again
  • There is so much variety out there 
  • They are a long term option

So if I was going to give some advice for home workouts and keeping motivated, especially with so much uncertainty, what would I recommend?

  • Be SMART - If goal setting is your thing - Pick a specific goal, make sure it is measurable, achievable and has a time frame - for me it was to run 5k in 30 minutes again.  I picked a 9 week programme that was through an app so I was coached through it and it was free!
  • Use the free trials - I didn’t click with the first platform I tried, so I went ahead and tried the free trials different companies were offering - just remember to cancel it if you don’t plan to use to continue using it passed the trial and if you don’t click with one platform, then move on to the next 
  • Lots of platforms seem to be doing extended free trials or discounts for key/front line workers, so defiantly check that before committing to payments  
  • Equipment - it can start to get expensive when you are being kit, for me it's now an investment and now I have my set up, long term I think it will balance out compared to longterm gym membership.  Also consider if you can get it second hand - it may be cheaper than new
  • Have a plan - just like going to the gym - say legs one day, cardio another - its still important to have some structure and lots of the homework apps have plans you can join so you aren’t scrolling through 100’s of workouts feeling lost in the amount there is to offer - having a plan might be a good way to get started where they suggest workouts for you while you get used to navigating their app
  • Do what you enjoy - now I'm not saying go out and spend a ton of money on a spin bike if that’s what you enjoy, for me its an investment and I took months of deliberating and weighing up the pro’s and con’s before making the commitment - for me I feel so happy now and I feel like its was the missing jigsaw piece and if the last year has taught me anything it is life is too precious and short, do what makes you happy - again, I'm not saying go and spend loads of money on expensive kit, this is what worked for me.  But again, shop around if this is also for you.  I took a risk with a new UK company because they were cheaper than the leading competitor and offered a big NHS discount.  
  • Don't give up - if you don’t find what works for you immediately keep shopping around 
  • Maybe the home workout just isn’t for you and that’s absolutely fine too
  • Think about joining accountability groups / talk to people- I've found this really helpful to keep motivated to talk to people in similar situations and hear their ideas - in a world were social contact is currently limited - stay connected through other means and social media can be great for that - platforms like Instarunclub are fantastic for this
  • But don’t compare yourself to anyone! This is your journey and although we are all living through the same pandemic we are living through it differently and will experience it as individuals
  • Take rest days - I made the mistake of over doing it in the early stages as I felt I needed to do more to make up for not having equipment - I was burning out physically and mentally - it became a chore - give yourself mind and body time to rest
  • Try something new!  Im terrible for stretching, so I've integrated a stretch session once a week into my programme 
  • Journal / plan - I have diaries galore with ideas and plans to refer back to - maybe keeping a diary and jotting down ideas or problems will help you decide how best to move forward 

Most importantly HAVE FUN! Do what makes you happy and it will never be work.

I hope this has helped with anyone who is finding they are a bit stuck in rut with the current situation we find ourselves in, remember you really aren’t alone.  I started posting more openly on my Instagram because I found writing about it also helped me to establish what I needed - I'm not saying you need to divulge your concerns and problems to the world - but I found by writing down the issues I was facing sometimes someone will reply with a solution but MOST of time I found the answer to my own problem by being honest with myself.

If you would like to follow on more with my journey you find me on Instagram @aimerunsdisney and I would love to follow your journey as well!