You see it everywhere on Instagram and YouTube; fitness professionals and so-called “influencers” with endless amounts of energy and motivation ready to “give it all” 24/7. If it´s not on their own Instagram posting challenges and home workouts, they´re sweating it out, dancing and screaming, on a live channel somewhere. Well, our dearest Base Trainer, Mirjam, has a slightly different take on this trend. We interviewed her to learn more about her perspectives on what she calls “lockdown pressure” and how it´s OK to not feel motivated all the time, even in the world of health and fitness.
First of all, how are you doing nowadays and how is your own training going?
I want to be honest with you. Yes, I am a personal trainer and fitness was my “everyday life”, but I’m not doing “well” with regard to a healthy lifestyle at all. At the beginning of this lockdown, I joined a few push-up and handstand challenges and that’s about it actually. A week ago I tried to do a HIIT workout and after 15 minutes I was completely out of breath. I couldn’t continue but still posted the few minutes I actually did on my stories. I got a lot of comments about “being an example”, while in reality, I felt like a complete failure.
What is the most challenging thing about this lockdown in terms of fitness or working out?
I feel that there is a big pressure to come out of this quarantine like a new person and with a sixpack. But the reality is that it’s not going to be easy for most people and also not for me. Yes, I was also into achieving a “lockdown transformation” and I even shared a picture a “motivational message” with you a while ago. I weighed in on this idea that we should be extra productive or have to come out of this with some new skills. Me, myself, I downloaded a language app because I was sure I was able to learn at least three new languages in a few weeks. I didn´t think about the negative impact this message could have on myself and other people. We’re just living in different times right now. Many people I know have children at home who used to be at school or childcare. People “lost” their job and are struggling to figure out how they’re gonna pay the rent or buy groceries or are watching their business crumble before their eyes. People are anxious about catching the virus or a loved one with some health conditions. I mean, some of us are facing bigger problems and are dealing with more difficult emotions other than working out.
What is your tip for those who are feeling “pressured” in this situation?
I would say this; you don’t have to transform your life and body in the few next weeks. If you really want to and can, sure – go for it… But what is right for you is not right for everyone else, so let’s not lay a guilt trip on ourselves and people around us in the name of “motivation”. This global health crisis is an experience none of us were prepared for – it’s not a competition. We are not all so ‘privileged’ enough to ‘enjoy’ spending this time putting energy in something new. This quarantine is one of the worst possible things that could ever happen to humanity so no one is throwing expectations at anyone besides the unrealistic one we give ourselves. Exercise, especially during a really stressful time for the whole nation, should be about feeling healthy and strong- not looking perfect. That we’re being stuck at home does not automatically grant us free time, focus, energy, and motivation. Maybe we have more time in our day, but that doesn’t mean that we have to go above and beyond our normal fitness output. In fact, if we are able to continue our workout cadence like before, we are doing just fine. Let’s not try to achieve something in a few weeks what we would normally do within a few months or years. Let’s go easy on ourselves and listen to our bodies. Let’s not push through because what we need is more self-compassion, more gentle acceptance of all the difficult emotions coming up for us now, and more focus on gentle ways to soothe ourselves and loved ones around us.
If you´re feeling the need for some concrete tips, check out the article we wrote earlier this month.