Trying to keep up with your health and wellness during a global pandemic is difficult, and like the majority of us during lockdown, I found keeping fit often became just another thing to worry about that sometimes caused additional stress. Before the pandemic, I would not classify myself as a super fit person; especially during deadline season, dragging myself to the gym was often the last thing that I wanted to do, and consistency in my routine was a big issue. My workout routine was frequently inhibited by how busy I was and how much I valued sleeping in over waking up early to work out that morning.
However, with gyms closed across the globe at various points this year, many of us got creative and turned to home workouts, myself included. Armed with my yoga mat and laptop, my living room turned into a makeshift gym. Since I had seen a lot of hype around fitness influencer Chloe Ting and her crazy workout results, I somehow persuaded my friends to join me in attempting her ‘4 Week Summer Shred Challenge.’
With two of us in the same time zone, and me selfishly asking if we could work out in the mornings (I’m that person I will admit it), we embarked on our four week journey with Chloe Ting over Zoom. Screen-sharing and following the workout videos (though none of us decided to follow her diet plan because that was just a little too much work), we laughed and sweated our way through the program. The first week was absolute hell. I distinctly remember that the first core routine that we did, titled “500 Reps Shredded Abs,” was one that we had to repeat almost daily. 500 reps never felt like so many, and if it weren’t for my two fellow sufferers on the other side of the screen doing plank jacks and jackknifes with me, I would have definitely given up on the challenge by the second day. However, despite the pain, doing Chloe Ting’s workouts with Maria and Claire became an important part of my daily routine. It was something not only that other people were depending on me to show up for, but something that I wanted to do for myself. As gruelling as the first week was, Chloe’s workouts were approachable, and by the second week the dreaded 500 reps went by swiftly.
One day I realised as I was changing that what resembled something close to a single abline was starting to appear in the middle of my stomach. Feeling extremely chuffed since I had not seen it for almost two years, I snapped a cheeky photo. The biggest feeling of accomplishment for me, however, was how strong my core had become. I am the person who, prior to the pandemic, would have been shaking like an autumn leaf in the wind after 15 seconds of holding an elbow plank, yet by the third week of the challenge, I could hold it easily for a minute.
During the last week of the challenge Chloe really decided to amp it up. Some days we had to do four to five 10-15 minute videos back to back. However, the true test came in the final week with the 1000 reps video that she kindly put at the very end of the program. On the 28th day of our challenge, our three jaws dropped to our well-used exercise mats as we looked at the plan. The 500 rep ab video, followed by a 10 minute HIIT video, and lastly the 1000 rep challenge. As we sailed through the 500 rep video and emerged sweaty and a little exerted from the HIIT one, I clicked on our final test. We emerged 20 minutes and approximately 1000 reps later having conquered the four-week challenge, in our respective living rooms, over Zoom. We all felt a great sense of accomplishment and comradery, but also newfound strength in our cores. The sense of pride that you feel in knowing that you stuck to something, and the self-discipline you have shown to yourself and to your friends is a good reminder of all that you are capable of, and something that I think everyone should try at some point.
Especially since gyms are still quite restrictive and some people are feeling uncomfortable, why not save on gym memberships and the anxiety of going to public places by working out in the comfort of your own home, using the thousands of free resources available online. Chloe Ting has so many different workout programs that are available for different goals and fitness levels, and she even offers meal prep ideas if you are interested in that sort of thing. I won’t deny that we did not enjoy her choice of music – the electric techno beats that she has in her introductions stirs something inside me still to this day – but grab a mat, a friend or flatmate, and see how strong you will emerge on the other side!