At the start of 2020, I was full of optimism for my workout goals for the year. I was training for a half marathon in April, planning to participate in several Duathlons over the summer and improve my overall body positivity outlook. I was hitting the school gym almost every day over lunch and seeing a lot of improvement in my overall health, but as the semester moved completely online for the remainder of the year, I started to worry about my half marathon race at the end of April. As we all know, gyms closed, most races were canceled or postponed, and many people started to experience the quarantine fifteen. My fitness and health goals were not looking good.
Fast forward to the start of the Fall 2020 semester, the school gym is opening and creating another fitness schedule is looking promising. Over the summer I was able to bike and run consistently and do other outdoor activities (like yoga in my front yard lol) but nothing near the goals I had set at the beginning of the year. Remaining optimistic has been a common struggle this year, but things are looking good. I have been back to the St. Ambrose gym a few times this week and have worked out while practicing social distancing and I have also been going to the YMCA in Bettendorf as well. Both gyms have been doing a good job at sanitizing equipment and following social distancing guidelines.
The main thing I have learned from this experience is that I have had to complete (or partially complete) my goals in an unexpected way so far this year. Finding creative ways to get in shape or achieve fitness goals has been strange but interesting. Even though it is not certain when races will happen again or how long gyms will stay open again, but I am staying flexible with my planning.
Here are some tips and words of wisdom that I have learned this year:
- If you are uncomfortable working out in a gym or public spaces, working out outside is better than nothing. I was only able to run and walk outside for two months, which was kind of boring, but finding new bike paths, routes, or cool parks to explore is a fun way to spice it up.
- I would recommend working out during slow times of the day to avoid congestion at the gyms to maintain distancing. Working out over lunch is now not ideal as the gym gets crowded, so I have started working out in the middle of the morning or in the middle of the afternoon to avoid crowds.
- Disinfect all equipment BEFORE AND AFTER use. Unfortunately, you cannot trust the person who used the machines or equipment before you, so just be safe and wipe it down twice.
- If you have a membership, going to private gyms like the YMCA can tend to have better sanitation practices and more space to socially distance. The YMCA sprays disinfectant on the machines several times a day and there are more machines, so distancing is way easier there.
- Change your mindset. Since the future is a little uncertain, setting time based fitness goals is not the best idea because many external factors can disrupt your plans or schedule. Setting goals based on overall health or general fitness can help keep you on track in times like these.
- If you see people violating social distancing in the gym or not following the disinfecting guidelines, either distance yourself from them or call them out on it. I have told many people to take a few steps back so that there is 6 feet between us.
- Body positivity in quarantine was a struggle to say the least, understanding that many things are out of your control (like stress and anger) is needed to stay optimistic.
- As winter starts to roll around, exercising outdoors will become limited, but find as many way to stay active as possible to keep your mood up and serotonin levels high. Race up and down the stairs of your house or take walks around your neighborhood in your parka. Whatever you can do to stay active will keep your body and mind happier.
- Look up YouTube videos for workouts to do in your dorm room. There are so many amazing workouts that only require body weight and a mat. This is another great way to exercise in winter or if you are uncomfortable going to the gym.
- If you have gained weight or have fallen behind on your fitness goals, do not feel frustrated or bummed because so many of us have experienced a few setbacks this year in some way or another. Just try to stay body positive and be kind to your body as it needs the strength during these times.
I am by no means a fitness professional or health official, I am only offering advice that I have found recently and following the health advice from officials who have outlined the proper guidelines for social distancing. Please do whatever makes you feel most comfortable while trying to stay active.