How to Stay Active During a Pandemic

    Hey guys!

    I firstly just wanted to say that I hope you’re all doing okay.
    This is such a frightening and uncertain time and I know so many people, myself included, are struggling massively with the ambiguity of the situation. Instead of sitting back and allowing the dark cloud to completely encompass my brain, I want to do something to try and help others.

    In all of the confusion I’ve been asked for fitness advice by a number of different friends and peers over the past week. Firstly I’d like to say how flattered I am by this. I’ve always enjoyed sports and exercise, but have only just committed to becoming, as described by a friend, “a f*cking gym nerd”. Over the past 6 or so months I have found not only a new self-confidence, but a brilliant tool for combating the dark spots of my mental health.

    In this period I know so many people are regressing to their own dark spots, and while most of us know about the magic of endorphins, many of us don’t actually believe in their power. I honestly think it is so important to try and continue with some sort of exercise regime, no matter how intense or how steady. Hence the idea for this post. I want others to enjoy the benefits of exercising and to enjoy a somewhat active life style, even when we’re in such unrest. In an attempt to somewhat help I’ve compiled a list of the most frequent questions I’ve received or seen in regards to exercising this week.

    Before we get started there’s one thing I want to mention.
    The decision on whether you go to the gym has to be completely your choice. This post offers an explanation of how I plan to proceed, but this does not necessarily mean you have to do the same. You need to do what you think is best and what you think is safest, I can only offer advice and of course, you should follow any advice or guidance from the government and health care professionals above.

      Should the government advise change, I will update this post accordingly.

    UPDATE: All gyms and leisure centres have been closed under government advice.
    Should anybody want any help or advice on staying active at home please reach out! My contact details are at the bottom of this page! 

    Should I still be exercising?
    Yes, health dependant.

    I’m not very good with scientific explanations so have provided some statements from the NHS’s website and Healthline to help clarify the benefits of exercise.

    NHS: “Being physically active can lift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, encourage the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improve self-esteem. Exercising may also be a good distraction from negative thoughts.”

    HealthLine: “Endorphins consist of a large group of peptides. They are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. Since endorphins act on the opiate receptors in our brains, they reduce pain and boost pleasure, resulting in a feeling of well-being. Endorphins are released in response to pain or stress, but they’re also released during other activities, like eating, exercise, or sex”.

    Should I still go to the gym?
    Personally I will continue to go to my local gym until I am either told not to by a healthcare professional, or until the gym is closed down.

    However while I am still fulfilling my gym nerd joys, I am extremely cautious to practice the below precautions:

    1. Disinfect every piece of equipment before AND after use.
      Your gym should be providing disinfectant spray, gel or wipes. If you cannot see any, ask. If they cannot provide, I personally would not be happy to use the equipment and would leave. (Just remember, the member of staff’s not to blame, there’s a nation wide shortage thanks to the panic buyers.)
    2. When finishing your session thoroughly wash or anti-bac your hands. I would then repeat once I get home.
    3. I also wash my face when I get home. This is a good practice even when we’re not in a worldwide pandemic as it removes any lingering sweat or junk from your pores.
    4. When you can, be sure to take your own water bottle and avoid using the shared fountains. You never know who’s been slobbering all over the tap.
    5. The gyms are pretty empty at the moment which makes it incredible easy to distance yourself from the other users.
      A gym in Bristol has closed every other station, in affect forcing members to keep a reasonable distance from each other. This is a brilliant idea, even if your gym hasn’t implemented this, just act as though it has.

    I’m not comfortable going. Can I exercise any other way?
    Yes! There are some incredible fitness vloggers and bloggers on YouTube and Instagram. Dedicate some time to trailing difference channels and different influencers till you find the videos and regimes which work for you.
    There are a videos suitable for everyone, from beginners with no equipment to those with a home gym. Just remember, if the first channel isn’t to your taste, keep searching. I promise you’ll find one you love.
    This is particularly useful for those currently working from home.

    It took me a long time to get motivated, how do I prevent losing that drive?
    I know how hard it is to get yourself into a routine, especially when it comes to new exercises. The best thing I can suggest is to find yourself a new routine.
    Whether that’s dedicating one specific hour a day to working out, or going for a walk every 3 hours. Again, find what works best for you.
    Sticking to some sort of regime will help when normality resumes and we all go back our everyday lives.

    Why bother exercising when there’s a zombie apocalypse on the way?
    I don’t know about you but I certainly want to be able to out run any kind of zombie threat ….

    Will I still be charged if I can’t go to the gym?
    Okay so this is a little more difficult as every gym is different.

    If you’re not gymming due to self-isolation or social distancing, I would suggest giving your gym a call to discuss available options.

    If the gym chooses to close, they should freeze your membership. I say should as I’m not 100% sure on the legality of this situation.
    TCA, a bouldering centre in Bristol have taken the decision to close their centres and have released the following statement on Monday regarding memberships:

    “First and foremost, if you are a member with a pre-paid pass or regular EFT billing, your pass will be frozen. Our system does not have a magic button to do this for all members instantly, but we will be working quickly in the background to change all pass settings ASAP. They will be automatically re-activated when (hopefully not if) we reopen.”

    UPDATE: My local gym has issued the below statement in regards to payment:
    “We will contact customers as soon as possible regarding monthly memberships, pre-paid annual memberships and bookings, an we will not be taking any direct debit payments for fitness and swimming memberships or swimming lessons on 1 April 2020. We will also be pausing and extending any annual memberships to resume once we reopen. Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to understand the implications of this closure and to put the appropriate steps in place. We respectfully ask all customers to refrain from contacting or visiting your local leisure centres at this time”. 

    I hope most other gyms around the country will follow suit, but without government intervention it will be down to the individual centres and gyms. If you have any concerns or queries, give your local centres a call or pop in for a chat.

    If you have any more questions you would like me to answer my inbox is always open. Feel free to drop me a message on Twitter, Instagram and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

    I know I’ve said this a lot, but we’re going through an incredibly scary and uncertain time. Please look after yourself and check in on your loved ones. If you see or hear of anybody struggling, drop them a message, give them a call or send them a puppy picture. We’re all in this together, let’s be kind and help each other through to the other side.

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