220 in 2020 · covid19 · fitness

Working out during the pandemic: notes from Team Less can be More

This morning, Sam posted about working out more during the pandemic: Are you working out more or less often during the pandemic? Sam is on Team More

As an avid blog reader and writer, I knew that Sam was doing a lot of activity during the pandemic. It’s been cool to read about her Zwift rides, yoga with Adriene sessions, and of course the backyard weight sessions. Oh, yes– there’s Cheddar walking, too.

As a member of the 220 workouts in 2020 group, I’ve been seeing others continuing or even amping up their workouts. One member is doing 25 pushups a day for 25 days, and others have devised their own virtual exercise plans. And yes, there’s lots of dog walking going on.

Here’s what’s been happening with me: I started out pandemic exercise in mid-March with lots of zoom yoga classes. I loved them and was thrilled to get more time on my mat without having to leave my house. I walked some– alone and with my friend Norah. I even did some strength mini-workouts, using the NYT 6-minute workout. If you want to read more about that, check it out here.

After a few weeks in lockdown, though, I lost momentum. Zooming for my academic job, managing my own uncertainty and helping distressed students was exhausting, and I felt pretty flattened by it all. It became much harder to leave the house. I did walk with friends, but less by myself.

Zoom yoga was still there and still appealing, but partly because of Zoom fatigue and partly because of pandemic disregulation and doldrums, that slowed, too. Not having a schedule that requires me to leave the house and be places at particular times (for work or play) left me struggling in the most basic ways: my sleep, eating and exercise patterns suffered.

Then school ended, but there wasn’t that feeling of relief I always get. We continued to have a lot of meetings and webinars. Those meetings and webinars will be happening all summer long to help us prepare for fall instruction. So it’s not a regular summer in any way at all. Of course this is true for all of us.

If others of you have had similar experiences, you are definitely not alone. I hear from loads of friends about how hard it is for them to maintain schedules and routines without some of those external cues and stimuli and structures. Team Less is real, my friends. Just as Team More is.

One big thing I’ve done to deal with being on Team Less is to restart daily meditation. I took a 4-day Zoom meditation workshop with Alex from my yoga studio Artemis. It’s really helping me. As I love making lists, here’s a list of some things it’s doing for me:

  • It made me get up early for a 7:30 class, so it’s helped me reset sleep hours a bit;
  • It’s offered me various meditation techniques which I already knew a little about, but needed some help getting reacquainted with;
  • It’s provided company for me in my meditation, in the form of other students and the instructor;
  • It’s helped me slow down some of my anxious thought processes, and identify them as such– just some anxious thoughts I have at some time;
  • It’s helping me put together some new structures for myself, and think about how to proceed in this new environment;
  • And it’s telling me that sometimes, less can be more.

In light of the last item, I’m now putting together a new team, Team Less can be More. Yes, I may be doing less physical activity than I envisioned for the summer, but I can be accepting of where I am, enjoy what I do, and notice the times I have more energy and oomph to go out and walk or swim or bike or do outdoor yoga or paddle, etc. And then maybe do some of those things sometimes. Who knows what is possible…

One important last note: we at the blog spend a lot of time thinking and writing about our relationships with our bodies and with movement and with self-care over the course of human events and the life trajectory. The fact that some of us are moving more and some of us are moving less at any given time is information for us, and we are sending out that information in the hopes that it will help others in their relationships. I like using the language of Team More and Team Less can be More because what we are really doing here is intramural scrimmage. We’re working together to find synergy– benefits for the whole through interaction of our diverse and inclusive parts. Sam’s post inspired me to think about how I’m reacting to a pattern of less activity, and share it with y’all. I hope it’s helpful.

What are you finding from your patterns these days? Do you need more? Do you need less? We’d love to hear from you.

Less can be more.

8 thoughts on “Working out during the pandemic: notes from Team Less can be More

  1. Thanks for your realism and compassion. We are out of lockdown here in New Zealand (for now) and my routine is reverting to normal, with the addition of a few 20 minute YouTube videos including 100 squats, upper body weights, barre and a therabande workout. Any longer and I’m bored. So the weekly routine is now, roughly, Dance Pilates dance Pilates YouTube walk YouTube. Plus barely 6 minutes of tai chi every day. Thing is, they have to be habits and they have to be fun, right?

    1. That’s so great you are out of lockdown in NZ. The whole world is envious of your leadership… Your weekly lineup sounds like a doable plan. Oh– you reminded me of tai chi! I started doing a little Qigong, but that sort of evaporated. But the meditation workshop included some Qigong/tai chi movements in between sittings, which I love. Thanks for that!

  2. I’m definitely on Team Less Can Be More–and many thanks for starting this team. I’ve felt a little alone amongst all the workout crushing, sourdough bread-making, learn a new language people.
    I’ve struggled with working out. It took me awhile to find an online workout that worked for me, then I injured myself. My workouts now consist of endless, aimless walks that bore me to tears, physio and the occasional yoga video. I tried an online zumba class last week and my body screamed NO after 20 minutes. (Pain not endurance issues.) Like you, I’ve found that without the usual anchors to my day that it has been hard to find the motivation to workout. Gyms won’t open near me for awhile and I’m not sure how I feel about going to the gym once it does open.

    1. HI MJ– yeah, it’s hard right now. And I agree with you abut the gym (and my local yoga studio); definitely no plans to go for the foreseeable future. We’ll be writing about these issues you brought up as we walk through this together. I’m thinking about how to create routines that will stick, that I can stick to– a tall order, but I’m not giving up.

  3. Some days, even weeks, I need more movement, but some days I cannot even sustain a walk. I listen. I try, but if it doesn’t feel right, I find a different way to serve myself.

    Thank you so much for sharing, I actually like the idea of 220 workouts in 2020, clever. 🙂

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