Pandemic self care: Making it back to the gym

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Photo credit: Eduardo Romero

I went back to the gym last month. I had been thinking about it, dreaming about it for awhile. But I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be in close proximity with other people, moving and sweating in an indoor space. During the spring and summer months, outdoor exercise was my fitness of choice. Walking in the park. Yoga at home. Dancing at home. There were days I didn’t feel very motivated or I was busy with school and work. Working to complete my doctorate during the summer called for greater self care and physical activity. I enjoy being outdoors, but the gym is a whole vibe that I truly missed.

Before heading back to the gym, I had to think about what I loved about it. I had to reflect on why working out at home and in the parks, was not as fulfilling for me. There’s something about energetically connecting to the iron of the machines in the gym. The clanking sound of the weights. And the focused intention of gym goers. All things that motivate me.

I couldn’t wait to do my usual gym routine. So I kept calling to find out when the gym I wanted to go to would be open and I rejoined in September.

My first day back to the gym, was similar to walking into any office or store at this time. Everyone has to wear a mask. There’s an attendant near the door to make sure you have a mask on before you can even walk around or start to work out. This attendant also checks your temperature. Once you’re cleared, you’re free to walk about and go to the workout space that you choose.

What’s different now, in addition to mask wearing when not actively working out, is the many disinfectant spray bottles that are in each room, with signs on the equipment telling you to clean before and after you workout. Also, there is an employee who walks around and sprays disinfectant periodically on each machine that is not being used. Some of the equipment is roped off to enforce social distancing. It’s actually nice not to have to be on a treadmill in between two people.

While I have since seen one person who didn’t walk around with a mask on, coughing after running on the treadmill (yup I reported him), most people seem to adhere to the policies and the gym runs smoothly.

My usual routine is to work out using the treadmill, free weights, and various weight machines. So far, I’ve lost 6 1bs. in a month which isn’t bad but I wasn’t focused so much on losing weight as achieving an overall feeling of well being and getting back to the presence of fitness I once had. I believe it’s an ongoing process. Some days are better than others. I celebrate my incremental progress and on days when I’m not feeling up to it, I try to rest and eat well and give myself a break. It’s an individual journey, but seeing others in the gym who are motivated as well, really helps.

I have found since returning to the gym that my focus on self care has improved overall. I think more about the sleep I need. I also still walk outdoors and practice yoga at home. It is more mental than anything. With being in a pandemic as well as the election season — there is a feeling of tension and chaos all around us, yet it’s important to find a sense of peace and stillness on a regular basis if you can.

What are you doing to practice self care during the pandemic? Have you been back to the gym? If so, what has been your experience? Tweet me @duewafrazier1 or comment below!

Writer, poet, podcaster, children’s/YA/MG author, TEDx “Word is Bond” speaker. Nerd-in-Chief at Nerdacity Podcast. Educator & commentator.

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