Last week the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared in a televised press conference alongside the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance.
They were talking about the potential loss of ‘many’ loved ones in the coronavirus outbreak. The tone was serious, and my family all stopped what they were doing to watch the BBC News channel.
Immediately the children among us started asking if their exams – in this case ‘A’ levels and SATs – would be cancelled. Of course I was concerned, but among all the hubbub I started thinking, ‘what if they close the gym?!’
Food shortage? Work drying up? And the worse outcome – members of my family getting sick and dying? I am worried about all that – but the gym thing felt the most likely thing to happen (at least I hope so!).
To spin or not to spin
Because some of us…(this writer included) being able to lift some weights, sweat in a (group) spinning class and even just chat to our fellow fitness fanatics is so engrained in us that you could even say it was in our DNA. Some of us do fit in some outdoor running and Mysore yoga practice but being able to touch base in the gym keeps us motivated and – so importantly – it keeps us sane.
Yes I’m not exaggerating. Fitness has helped me cope with the suicide of a parent, the PTSD from an emergency c-section, and meant I was in turn able to offer support to friends and family who themselves have gone through tough times.
It’s helped me keep my head.
My home gym
So – what’s the alternative. The gym may not shut but people might want to be staying away. I’m already betting there is going to be a run on a certain home-biking system. With quite a few people having to max their credit card or finance – as some of these offerings cost £2k and upwards (my gym is £60 a month AND I get a shower and towel and cleaning stuff thrown in as well as membership for my daughters to do their swimming).
Working out from home – if you don’t know what you are doing or have old injuries – can be detrimental to your physical health. My spinning classes are taught by some lovely teachers. A shout out to Andrea at Bishop’s Stortford Nuffield, the two Michelles (Wednesday and Friday 7.15am at City Nuffield), as well as Lucy at LA Active and Margie at Crossfit Shoreditch. Margie is amazing and I get a programme from her every 8-12 weeks which has changed my body (for the better!)
Thankfully Margie does a FaceTime! But my point is – they coach us through the class so we don’t get injured.
Things to be aware of
If you are thinking of starting running, join a local running club (find one via the UK Althletics website) and make sure you get fitted for proper running shoes. I live in London and go to Runners Need but you will have a local shop where they can stick you on a treadmill and assess your gait.
And don’t dismiss running – even if you have knee issues – decent shoes and a good physio might mean you can do the sort of distances that clear your mind. Just maybe not the type of marathon type distances.
Aiming for a couple of 10k runs twice a week – is better than hammering your body in the odd marathon and giving up in between. When it comes to exercise – life is the marathon.
Home spinning may not be injury free either. Some spinning classes put more pressure on knees and hips than running – as those of us spinning fans who have been lured away by some of the more standing heavy classes can testify.
Yoga and pilates DVDS – will help guide you if you need to stretch, but I wouldn’t recommend doing these without going to a class first.
If weights are your thing, and you know what you are doing, body weight exercises like press ups can help maintain those muscles you’ve worked so hard for. But don’t start doing anything new that you haven’t already practised in the gym.
As for me, I will be asking my personal trainer friends to show me how to use the green gym in our local park(s) after all fresh air helps build our immune systems.
Your injury-free guide to exercising from home
- Make sure you stretch – but you don’t have to overdo it. Margie at Crossfit recommends doing gentle yoga stretches to help mobility.
- If you aren’t in the care of a personal trainer or gym you might want to check in with someone who does sports massage they can help pinpoint any tight muscle groups before they become an injury-inducing issue.
- It’s not all or nothing. Macho attitudes to exercise end in injury. Best to start with something that you enjoy and are going to maintain than do something faddy that costs
- If you are struggling for motivation- use social media – lots of gyms have Facebook and Instagram feeds.
When it comes to your own body – always seek medical advice before starting any programme no matter how old or young you are.
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For guidance and advice on Covid-19/coronavirus visit the NHS web page here.