An unprecedented year for fitness addicts can still be salvaged
COVID-19 has been a major hindrance for people accustomed to active regimes. The closing of most fitness institutions has caused a huge lifestyle transformation for many, leaving them to wishfully recall the physical and mental benefits of working out.
Despite the undesirable circumstances, perhaps there’s an obscured bright side that we’re choosing to omit. Maybe, habitual routines being put on hold can act as an enabler towards progressing our overall well being in the long run.
Sounds crazy, but hear me out.
The pandemic has left many fitness enthusiasts unhappy, but to argue there are no viable fitness substitutes would be erroneous. Even the greatest athletes have inadequacies, and for better or worse the opportunity has presented itself to potentially hone in on aspects of fitness that are unkempt due to general social negligence.
In essence, people are physically results-oriented in their training, meaning workouts that have the most tangible effects on appearance like weightlifting have become overly promoted and glorified. On the flipside, elements that are frankly more vital for overall fitness such as cardio and mobility are omitted by common gym practitioners.
Whether it’s exercise in the form of outdoor running that people tend to overlook, equipment-free calisthenic training that could — quite literally — be done anywhere at any time, or flexibility workouts, the assortment of choices are effective and generally free of charge.
There’s a common and unconscious misconception that the convenience of these workouts and the lack of equipment somehow makes them less productive. And while it’s more likely to see the world’s inspiring athletes doing extravagant workouts that inspire emulation, the reality is every single one of them does the less trendy work (listed above) behind closed doors just as often.
During the summer, I decided to stop my grumbling in boredom — video games could only take me so far — and made a personal decision to engage in three completely foreign activities. I decided to pick up a new sport (golf, in this instance), started to regularly run, and registered for independent online yoga classes that I participated in roughly four times a week.
Flexibility was a personal hurdle that I had previously willfully ignored throughout my training in favour of weightlifting and playing sports. In ensuring I follow through with the fresh routine, I aspired to engage in some of the activities I avoided most, hoping that by doing so I would challenge myself mentally while bettering my overall physical wellbeing.
My immobility from training incorrectly since my years in high school was frankly embarrassing, I quickly found out. Saying it was bad was putting it lightly; it was unequivocally ugly. As a result, the fear of being alienated in a yoga environment led to ignoring the issue altogether.
Having the classes online made the introductory sessions easier to digest. Independent yoga enabled me to be less concerned about having to perform certain poses and stretches as traditionally outlined, giving me leeway to progress at my own pace.
The routines themselves were a genuine challenge. It was a struggle to actively remain still at times. Using one’s own physique as a training tool is something I will retain for the rest of my life. Holding up the body in perpetual suspension was on par with some of my most strenuous workouts of the past — a humbling notion in itself.
A shortcoming to remote lessons, though, is the lack of a professional mentor in the vicinity. While one might be doing their utter best to perform a movement appropriately, sometimes an in-person visual or physical aid is required to create the adequate sensation and accuracy. When I found myself stumped, I referred to online guides, but ultimately had to go out of my way to figure out an explanation that would have been instantaneous in a traditional yoga environment.
As of right now, I am pridefully average from a flexibility standpoint after nearly five months of deliberate practice. Additionally, my knee that has impeded me since college does not plague my mind as frequently as it did pre-pandemic. Ultimately, I found a way to avoid stagnation despite the untimeliness of the pandemic, which is what I am incontestably most proud of.
The meaning of fitness fluctuates from person to person, so consequently there is no perfect resolution to the COVID-19 workout dilemma. At the end of the day, my situation was simply an anecdotal experience that was not meant to boast my pre-eminence in any way, shape, or form, but hopefully to show that fitness can still be attained during these times, with or without the institutions that we have grown accustomed to.
By opening the mind to creativity and exploring fresh, though perhaps tentative, exercise avenues, athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike can continue to stay as active as ever.
Graphic by Taylor Reddam