As countries around the wold bring their focus on vaccinating its population, the future of returning back to a new version of normal is looking more promising. In the meantime, as another wave of the pandemic emerges, many are forced to go back into lockdown. This means businesses like gyms and fitness centres are shut down once again and many are finding creative ways to stay healthy and fit. But with COVID fatigue hitting many of us, the motivation to work out has been a challenging feat for some. Luckily, we had a chance to speak with award-winning personal trainer, and health coach Karen Michelle who shared her advice on how to best maximize your fitness routine and stay motivated.
With gyms and fitness centres closed, it's been hard for a lot of people to feel motivated to workout. Do you have any tips on how to inspire people to keep up with a fitness routine during these times?
It has definitely been a challenge to stay motivated while working from home. Especially when you're using the same space for multiple things - it can make moving/ working out at home even more challenging.
I have found that the best way to ensure that you move at home is by doing a few things. First, setting up a designated spot for you to move. Lay down a yoga mat plus any equipment you want to use. Our environment and space determines how we feel and subsequently what we do, so having the visual reminder is a great place to start. The second thing I would do is explore the kind of movements you enjoy. There's nothing worse than doing a workout you don't enjoy lol so find movement that makes YOU feel good and not what you see someone else doing. The third thing is signing up for classes. Committing and paying for classes or a package is a great way to ensure that you commit and follow through. It also keeps you accountable - especially if the classes are live. The women who take my classes buy packages and having me and even the other women who also take my classes, keeps them consistent because they know they're not alone and I think that's the best part of group classes.
How can people maximize their workouts from home?
It all depends on their goal(s). If I've learned anything in the last year, it's that we can be incredibly resourceful. Dumbbells for example have been backordered for a long time; Instead of dumbbells, I've had clients use water bottles, wine bottles, cans, etc. Depending on what you're hoping to achieve, you can use things around the house; your sofa (great for Bulgarian split squats, hip thrusts), a kitchen chair (use this for step ups), laundry detergent (for push movements over your head or to add weight to your squats), peanut butter (bicep curls, forward raises) even doing stairs in your home/ apartment/condo complex. When we learn to think outside of the box, we can challenge the body and mind in new ways.
What are some other effective ways to keep active and workout if you are not into virtual workouts?
Sometimes all you need is 15 minutes for an effective and mood boosting workout.
I love this question. My answer is get outside! With all our lockdowns, most of us have been spending a lot more time indoors- especially during the winter. Now that the weather is warming up, getting outside for a walk, run, hill sprints or even an outdoor workout with someone in your bubble is a great way to keep active and also so important for our mental health. I go for walks almost every morning and do one walk a week with a friend . Walking in and of itself has so many benefits and the thing I tell everyone is that it's FREE! It costs you nothing and makes you feel so good. If you want to challenge yourself, try running hills. Sometimes all you need is 15 minutes for an effective and mood boosting workout.
What are some other things people should be incorporating to live their most active and healthy life?
First and foremost, sleep. I now prioritize sleep over everything. I've always been a good sleeper but would find myself running on six to seven hours of sleep and it caught up to me. I'm not a sleep expert but I would say to try aiming for seven to eight hours if you can. Sleep hygiene is also really important. From a mental health standpoint, being glued to devices, especially before going to sleep and when we wake up is unhealthy, so limiting screen time is important.
For me, living a healthy life means doing things every day that make me feel good in my mind and body. I think it starts with being aware of what you enjoy and what actually makes YOU feel your best and doing those things as often as you can.
A few things I have found help me and my clients feel their best that people can incorporate into their lives are: getting enough sleep, moving their bodies (workout and a walk), meditating, writing, eating foods that fuel them and make them feel good, taking baths, getting a massage, talking to friends/ connect with people they love (this is a huge one for me). I am really good at being alone but I've learned -during quarantine- that I need to connect with people I love and have meaningful conversations.
The last thing is having fun. I get into this tunnel vision of work (I'm sure many of us do) and lose sight of other things that matter too like having fun. As much as I love work, it's important to do things that have nothing to do with work and do things that are fun and simply make you really really happy. For me, it's new experiences like skydiving, which I plan on doing this summer.
When I think of living a healthy life I think long-term. What can I do today and everyday that will help me live and feel my best
When I think of living a healthy life I think long-term. What can I do today and everyday that will help me live and feel my best. I often say to clients or women who take my classes that our life is happening now, today, in this moment. What can we do now and practice daily so that we feel good? We won't always have good days but if we create really good systems, and practice habits that make us feel good, we're likely to have a lot more good days than bad and I like those odds.
Karen Michelle is an award-winning certified personal trainer, health coach and the creator of STRONGERwithKM™. Her goal is to help women move well and push beyond their comfort zone so they can live stronger, healthier and happier lives.