Toughest Workout During COVID? Staying Motivated

Hannah Gjerde starts her day at her hot-mat yoga class on the front lawn of her parent’s home, right before settling onto the couch for the rest of the day. “Being home makes it hard because my dad will be in the kitchen working, or it’s too crowded in my room to do it,” says Gjerde.   Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms have been deemed non-essential businesses and are not allowed to open. Closing fitness centers has created a sedentary lifestyle for many people.  So more people are moving their fitness routines online.  Gjerde, a Californian, also uses the backyard for her workout space, completing workouts online with an instructor at her usual yoga studio. Gyms and gym-goers alike are finding innovative ways to keep moving while practicing social distancing to thwart the spread of the coronavirus.Photo of Hannah Gjerde working out. (Courtesy of photo/Hannah Gjerde)In a pre-pandemic world, Yo Dinh, who works in investments in Australia, found that the most effective way to get himself to work out was to invest in a personal trainer.  YouTube videos just weren’t enough, he says.  “I didn’t really push myself. You know, it’s that barrier,” he says. That’s when the idea behind his website Avatar PT was born. It started as a private project where he and his personal trainers had a platform to connect and virtually work out together.  “I actually started with one person from the Philippines, and then now I’ve actually gotten a guy from Bulgaria and another guy from Serbia as well,” Dinh says.  From all over the world, they could still connect.  After the coronavirus outbreak, Australia restricted public gatherings of more than two people. The thought occurred that “maybe other people might be interested in working at home as well. And then that’s when I shared it to other people,” he says.  “And now I’ve got my brother and my brother’s friends, my housemates, other people doing it with me as well.” For Dinh, it’s not about the profit.  “It’s free at the moment. I just said it’s free until the end of April to see if anyone’s interested,” says Dinh.  On the other side of the globe, Mark Harrington, the president of the four Healthwork Fitness centers in the Greater Boston area, is taking advantage rather than lamenting COVID closures in the U.S. He says Healthworks corporate team is “launching stuff and iterating hourly,” he says, to help customers adapt to exercising remotely. The fitness centers offer free and paid programs through their Instagram Live.  “I think a lot of people want to try it before they buy it,” he says.  To stay motivated, he said, “the best thing to do is get one of your friends to do it, too. Even though you’re not together, you’re both holding each other accountable to doing it.” Jeanette Thong, also a private trainer based in Singapore, first got into fitness when she started experiencing back pain and weight gain from sitting at a desk all day at her office job.  But since the outbreak, her standards for her workout achievements have decreased.  “Right now, it’s more of maintenance of what I have,” she says. Singapore was one of the first countries to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and maintains a lockdown lite compared to other countries.  Although restrictions have been easing up in the city-state, she says that Singapore has experienced a “mini lockdown” for a while. “It has been more mentally draining than anything else,” says Thong. She acknowledges that working out from home can be a challenge now, but a sedentary lifestyle should be far from acceptable.  “It’s really important for people to remember to move and try to keep active the best they can. It will also help mentally. It is okay to also not want to do anything, but it’s important to at least try.”  In California, Gjerde continues to do yoga on her front lawn. A high school English teacher in Rancho Cucamonga who has played soccer since she was 4, she says she keeps up with her yoga.  “That’s all I do. I teach and I work out,” she says. Since the quarantine, Gjerde, too, has found it difficult to find the motivation to work out.  “I’m not doing as much as I was, but I’m trying. […] I’m way less likely to stick it out. Usually I’m competing with the girl next to me, in my head,” she says. Now, “there’s no one to hold me accountable.” One of the biggest ways Gjerde manages to complete her workout is to keep in mind her goals.  “When this is over, I do want to look super good when I go to the beach […]. Set your intention, and when you hit the hard spot in class, go back to that intention.” 

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