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Four Lessons I Learned About Exercising at Home

Social butterfly. Outgoing. Gregarious. Sure, multiple elementary school teachers used those terms on report cards to let my parents know I talked too much in class. However you describe it, I am a hard-core extrovert. So when I first started embracing fitness back in the early 1990’s, exercising with others was part of the draw. Spin classes delight me. I like strength training with other early morning gym-goers and waving hello to friends while grooving out on the elliptical or treadmill. All of which means that exercising at home has never been a regular practice or priority.

But we are in weird, unprecedented times. Many of us in the United States have been working from home under mandates to socially distance since early to mid-March. Crisis communications is one of my core job responsibilities and I’ve been working non-stop since the advent of COVID-19. I need all of the mental and physical goodness exercise brings into my world more than ever before. Here are four things I’ve learned about exercising at home over the past few weeks:

1. Plan ahead.

I’m giving myself bonus points for ordering a set of kettlebells back in early March just in case they were needed. But that doesn’t mean squat if I don’t have a plan in place about how to use them. I’ve learned a lot about what to do and not do from my personal trainer and have applied those lessons when traveling for work and business. Still, it’s different without typical equipment choices when you want to avoid repeating the same moves every time. What has worked for me is planning ahead. I look at the week to get a general idea of my movement goals. The night before, I decide exactly what I’m going to do and write it out. That practice takes the guesswork out of what comes next at 6:00 a.m. when there’s a very busy day ahead.

2. Try something new.

I liked my regular exercise schedule. Most weeks, I did strength training three times with cardio bursts and then three other days with varying degrees of cardio ranging from spin class to the step mill machine. But it is great to try new things and take a break from long-held patterns, as advised by the authors of Peak Performance. These days, I’ve been trying online dance classes a couple of times a week. Like Hip Hop Tabata from PopSugar Fitness, which truly kicked my butt. Here’s a great list of five in-home exercises to try from the Wall Street Journal.

3. Leverage technology.

There are numerous fitness apps to help you get a great workout from the confines of home; some of my friends have been really pleased with FitOn and Aaptiv. No matter where you are, as long as there is a fast internet connection you can access content from specialty fitness studios now offering live classes online. I took a lunchtime Pilates mat class from Stability Pilates last week using Zoom and it was the most Zen moment I’ve had since the COVID-19 crisis started.

4. Get outside.

Because I have chosen to exercise before work for the past two decades, most of my sweat time takes place indoors around the crack of dawn.  But with my work commute gone, I’ve shifted to cardio walks during lunch or when taking conference calls several times a week. It’s a great way to keep moving and “see” others, albeit from at least six feet away.

I’m curious to see what impact these lessons will have on my world after the COVID-9 crisis has passed. (Part of my coping strategy is reminding myself that this is a temporary circumstance and not the new normal forever.) It has shown me that no matter what limitations exist, I can find a way to be good to myself through exercise. On a larger scale it reminds me that even when things feel downright scary, we can discover great resilience within ourselves.

How are you getting your fitness on in this time of social distancing? What impact has exercise had on your work and life overall these days?

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