As the threat of lockdown became very real, we saw gyms, leisure centres and parks closing their doors. I played a rugby match one week before we were officially ‘locked down’ and there is no doubt that if someone on either team had the virus we would have certainly all caught it, and so the decision to stop sports is clearly the right one. The problem is when sport and fitness is such an important part of so many people’s lives, how do we find that ‘fix’ off of the pitch? What do team sports, competition and personal fitness goals look like during COVID19?
As soon as we heard we would all need to ‘stay home’, a series of at-home, online fitness sessions popped up everywhere. Everyone on my social media became a runner. Joe Wicks broke records with millions of children (and parents) tuning in to his PE sessions. In week one, I felt oddly motivated to get involved. As a sporty individual, I found myself signing up to roughly nine fitness sessions that first week and it was novel and fun. Week two came and I realised this was clearly not sustainable and my enthusiasm for this new routine dwindled. I was planning to give up and sulk. Nothing would be the same as getting on the rugby or hockey pitch… but given the positive correlation between biscuit consumption and working from home, I knew I needed to do something.
Something changed following that new, magical time between weeks one – three where I felt I had all this time to fill. Suddenly work was busier than before and despite being at home, I somehow started having a social life. Tuesday evening I might be working, then at a Zoom quiz Wednesday, Cooking a three-course dinner Friday and before I knew it I had just as many excuses not to exercise in lockdown as I had, had in ‘normal’ life. I realised that even with nowhere to go I could still find a perfectly valid reason to convince myself not to work out if I wasn’t in the mood or it wasn’t fun. This was when I looked at what I was doing and picked a few sessions I enjoyed and pledged to stick at these. Being the social butterfly I am, these were the sessions I enjoyed with my friends, taking it in turns to lead. I also kept couch to 5k in there, as I had enjoyed getting that 30-odd minute run in the fresh air, blasting my music and listening to my pal, Sarah Millican, tell me to keep going!
I also had to have a little chat with myself. Team sport is my social life and my therapy, my ‘me time’ and my family. I had to mourn the loss of my usual weekend mantra, I think I may have even gone through the stages of grief for rugby! I had to remember that no matter what everyone else is doing, I just needed to ‘do me’. Having already missed ¾ of the season already due to a broken leg, I felt cheated not to be able to play after working so hard on my physio, but I have to remind myself it’s okay to miss things that were a large part of my life, and that finding a replacement won’t be easy but keeping fit and motivated will be important for when we return!
So I might not be rugby tackling teddies in my spare room, but I am trying to stay away from the biscuits and trying to keep active, and I always feel better for it, especially when I can breathe in some fresh air and be outside. I might not be running marathons and sharing my sweaty selfies online, but if that’s what works for others, good on them. We are all looking for something to calm us, motivate us and keep us healthy at a time where the temptation is to roll ourselves in a duvet and devour an entire pack of mini rolls (oddly specific you may think, but was my week four!), so be kind, cheer each other on and most of all forgive yourself if you aren’t achieving what you thought you would. Go for a walk, dance whilst cooking dinner, run up the stairs, practise yoga, join in with your kids Joe session, because any activity you are doing, is better than spending lockdown creating a perfect butt groove in the sofa – unless that was your personal lockdown goal, in which case, you go Glen Coco!