Working out at home during the COVID-19 outbreak is the best thing to happen to my mind and body.
Two months ago, I was anything but chill.
I mean, I had zero chill. Especially when it came to fitness.
If you were to tell me two months ago that I would be living during a pandemic and watching the world crumble in its wake, my first response would be, “Okay, but will I be able to workout?”
I became a treadmill addict after I suffered a stress fracture while training for a marathon. I needed a place to run that was lower impact than pavement, so I became an obsessive gym rat, unable to cope with the reality that my fractures and scoliosis might not benefit from running. It didn’t matter, though. As long as I was able to hit the gym early each morning, I could cope with law school, a breakup, studying for the bar, the daily work grind, you name it.
To me, the dancing, smiley, happy people who workout because they love themselves were wimps. Their workouts were for the beginners, the soft ones. I did not want to be soft. I wanted to be hard, edgy, and extreme. I had to keep a certain pace in all of my workouts, or else face my own disappointment in my performance.
I was training for a race that didn’t exist.
When gyms were forced to close all over the country due to the spreading coronavirus, I panicked. It was a silent panic, though, because I had just moved in with my fiancé, George. He’s got pretty eyes and perfect hair and an effortlessly cool attitude, something I’ve always admired.
He could not see me panic. We are quarantined together, for Pete’s sake.
Be cool, Kelsey, be cool.
Within five minutes of learning that my barre studio and gym were closed, I scoured Amazon for an indoor cycling bike. Problem solved.
Or was it?
One insecurity I’ve always had while cycling was the buildup of muscles in my thighs, calves, and glutes. I had to face the reality that my legs might “bulk up” as a result of my new cardio regimen. I could barely stomach the thought.
It was then that I realized how warped my relationship with fitness truly was.
Fortunately, the last six weeks of doing home workouts has changed my relationship with fitness — and myself — in important ways.
I’m no longer working out to punish myself.
A few months ago, my workouts reminded me of a battle scene. I was the desperate soldier carrying the impossibly heavy weight of my comrade on my back while Nicki Minaj motivated me through my headphones.
Sounds fun, right?
It wasn’t. I had spent the last eight years of my fitness journey fighting as a soldier in a losing battle against her own body.
My new weapon was the spin bike that George assembled.
I strapped my feet into the pedals for my first ride at home. To my surprise, my workout was not a battle scene. It was me laughing at a ripped British man leading a legion of Peloton® users while playing uplifting music. It was challenging, but it didn’t kill me. I had more energy after the workout, and I didn’t have to fix a rotation in my back or hip.
For the first time in my life, I am healing.
I am healing from years of high-impact, reckless workouts that were doing more harm than good.
I am validating the power walks with my dog that do not turn into sprints.
I joined a virtual barre studio and felt comfortable incorporating modifications into the workouts I would usually do in class.
No one is watching me, well, except George. He secretly filmed me during a dance class a few weeks ago.
I am now one of those dancing, smiley, happy people who works out because she loves herself. And I am in even better shape than before the stay-at-home order.
I’ve accepted that my workouts and our world will not be “normal” for quite some time.
I’m going to admit this now as if I am ripping off a bandaid: I am rigid.
No, not like a librarian with her hair in a tight bun or the teacher who pops her students’ wrists with rulers.
Okay, I’m sort of like them. Maybe a little.
What I mean is I am not usually a flexible person. I didn’t adapt to change well before COVID-19. Before the pandemic, my morning routine was constant. My workday began and ended around the same time, and I went home every night and usually cooked or watched some arm of The Bachelor franchise. I ate in restaurants once or twice a week. Before COVID-19, seeing my barre friends every morning at 5:30 a.m. was a safe bet.
One of the hardest things to do in life, especially right now, is manage expectations and adapt to change.
Consider my expectations managed. Working out at home has given me time to process our new reality and accept it. It’s given me the opportunity to build virtual yet genuine connections with my friends. Nothing is normal for anyone, and many of us fitness-lovers are sweating at home and challenging our bodies and minds together. I would not have connected with some people as closely if we weren’t all Zooming in the middle of chaos.
I’ve also been able to process other things during my home workouts, such as my wedding later this year. It’s not until November, but who knows what our celebration will look like then? I’ve begun to manage my expectations of our wedding day. I would like to have our medium-sized wedding in a cathedral with a fancy reception right afterward, but if our wedding is stripped down to the bare minimum, it doesn’t matter. I’m marrying the love of my life, virus be damned. A Zoom wedding is still a wedding.
Working out at home has taught me that fitness is much more than a metric — it’s a mindset. Find joy in your workouts and your life.
While I wish the coronavirus never existed, it’s here, and it has changed all of us forever. Walk away from it with new ideas and a new appreciation for your body and mind. Give yourself permission to change with the world around us.