Staying active during the Coronavirus pandemic

A fifth of the world’s population is currently on lockdown, attempting to battle the deadly Coronavirus. This is a really crazy time that we are living in. Everything that is a reality right now feels like the sort of thing you learn about in A-Level Sociology or read about in dystopian novels. It’s crazy how quickly things can change and I think that we’ve all realised that over the past few weeks.

Thankfully in the UK, we are still being allowed to leave our houses. This means that we can keep active by going for walks or runs once a day. I know that for a lot of people, me included, this is one of the only things keeping me mentally sane. It hasn’t even been a week since this happened and I’m already going a bit loopy. I hate to be one of those people complaining that they’re bored but there are so many things that I already miss.

There is the mentality that lockdown is going to make us all put on extra weight. Surprise, surprise I don’t think this should be the case! Being aware of what you’re eating is probably even more important now. Eating out of boredom is one of the easiest ways to put on weight and we do need to be mindful of this.

Weight aside, it’s important to keep your body moving! I don’t think that any of us really want to become couch potatoes during this time. We need to keep moving, exercising and staying fit to keep our energy levels up and fuel our minds so that they can be properly stimulated. If you’re thinking of learning something new during this period, then that’s great! Working out is a great way to exercise your mind and your body.

So please, try to do at least 20 minutes of exercise a day. It’s not much but it really will make a difference. Here are my exercise tips:

Pilates has a number of great low impact moves that are perfect to do at home. Pilates focuses on movements that improve your core strength and stability. It’s about controlling your motions and moving at a steady pace through your exercises. So although it can be low impact, it requires a lot of concentration and discipline. It’s therefore a great choice for working out quietly at home.

HIIT workouts have recently become one of my favourites. The exercises are a lot more demanding but this means that you can do shorter workouts and still achieve really good results. HIIT workouts are also a great way to get your cardio in (my least favourite type of training) because the exercises usually incorporate fast repetitions and you can easily include weights like dumbbells.

Upper body workouts on YouTube are also perfect for building up your arms, core and abs. Lots of girls focus only on legs and abs. You ask a girl what day it was at the gym and she almost always replies with “leg day” or “ab day”. As I’ve said before, I like to workout to achieve overall fitness. At the moment, I’m working a lot more on my upper body in order to build strength that can help me to do exercises like press ups and pull ups. It’s not all about lower body training for me anymore. It’s about strengthening the weaker parts of my body so that my overall fitness levels are higher.

What’s your favourite type of quarantine workout?

Tan’s 2020 Fitness Goals

Hello! Here we are in 2020, at that time of the month when everybody is thinking about how to keep those new year’s resolutions. Save more? Commit to dry Jan? Hit the gym? That last one is always my favourite – I love the fact that people are so motivated to work out at the start of year but hate that so often, many of us fail to keep up with it.

I feel like I say this all the time but working out is really important to me. Over the past two years, I would say, of consistent exercise, I’ve picked up on very noticeable differences in the way I feel and in the way I feel about myself. It’s definitely been a journey.

I started working out because I wanted to lose weight. There was a time when I looked in the mirror and honestly hated my body. I would find a list as long as a lamppost detailing how fat my legs were. I think as girls, regardless of whether we love our bodies or not, we all have that one part that we have never been satisfied with. So, when I first started working out, I pretty much only trained lower body.

Then, I started to notice that my legs were getting bigger because I was building up muscle. I scrapped the weights and started training cardio only. But even then I wasn’t happy.

It took me about a year and a half to get to the point I’m at now, where the way that I look has moved down the list of reasons why I work out. When I started working out, I wanted slimmer legs. Period. Now, I work out because it makes me feel energised, it gives me something to work towards, it gives me the opportunity to train new parts of my body and see how they progress over time, it stops me from getting bored, feeling sluggish and lazy. There are lots of different reasons why I continue to workout.

Over the Winter months, my workouts have changed to home workouts. I still have a gym membership but I haven’t used it in about two months. I’ve been trialling how much more successful it is to workout at home, rather than at the gym. I think that for me, it all depends on the season. I really don’t want to get dressed and go out into the cold to workout – I just don’t. So I roll out my exercise mat and I workout at home instead. At the moment, I’ve literally only been doing MadFit workouts on YouTube. I think they are amazing! They’re usually between 10 and 20 minutes so I would normally do two in a row, but the 10 minute ones give you the option to get some high intensity activity into your day even if you’re feeling sluggish or if you’re low on time.

The reason why I enjoy home workouts so much at the moment, is because I can target my workouts and train in a guided way for free and without anybody around me. The one thing I always struggled with at the gym was finding space. At home, I have my own little space and I can train in exactly the way that I want to. I also sometimes film my workouts. No, not because I’m a narcissist! Simply because it’s good to watch them back and see where I need to improve my form in order to get the most out of the different exercises. Again, this is something that I couldn’t do at the gym.

This year, my main fitness goal is to be able to do a press up. Easy for some, hard for the rest of us who have very minimal upper body strength. All those lower body workouts two years ago meant that I completely neglected my arms! I have been doing a lot of ab workouts recently and many of the exercises involve having good upper body strength. So this year, (well, really towards the end of last year) I have started incorporating upper body exercises into my routines. I’m really excited to see how far I can go with this. After we nail the press up, it’s on to pull-ups!

I love the feeling of setting yourself goals and achieving them. It’s honestly the best feeling when you think about something that you’ve said you want to do and then realise that you’ve managed to do it. Fitness achievements are probably up there on my list of most gratifying successes. Again, I say this a lot but there was a time when I couldn’t do lying leg drops or planks and here we are doing them as part of 3-4 part ab sets.

If you are on a fitness journey this year, then I urge you to do two things:

1. Set small and achievable goals for yourself rather than saying “I want to lost a stone by Summer”. I really think you will feel so much better and stronger if you break that down into achievable little parts and work even harder to hit those mini goals before the big one.

2. Find free ways to get fit. Go running, play a sport with your friends or honestly, just start doing YouTube workouts. As I said in my fitness influencers post (linked below), I really recommend MadFit workouts. They’re challenging, really well-paced and I have really seen and most importantly, felt results from them.

If you want to read any of my other fitness posts, then click on the tag below.

What are your fitness goals in 2020?

My top 3 Instagram fitness influencers

Before I write a post about my fitness routine, I wanted to talk about where I got all of this inspiration from in the first place. Two years ago, I had probably gone to the gym about twice in my life. The only times I would work out were at home and even then it was very inconsistent. I tried everything – fitness DVDs in the living room with my mum, YouTube workouts in my room on my own, running along the River Thames. I even tried running around the park at university but nothing really worked for me.

I started going to the gym with my mum when I moved out of university. One thing I found was that I really struggle to workout with other people. My mum is such a chatterbox and wanted to talk every ten minutes. Working out for me is completely removing yourself from all of your everyday thoughts, shutting off from the world for an hour or so and just focusing on you. I was doing 30 minutes cardio and moving onto strength training, but I was getting distracted by being with somebody else.

The exercises I would do on the mats were exercises that I had picked up from YouTube videos – mainly FitnessBlender, which I have talked about before and highly recommend. Unfortunately, I don’t think they post that many videos anymore. But the old ones are still there and are still highly effective if you really want to feel the burn in your muscles and not your wallet.

After my mum quit the gym, I started going on my own. It was daunting at first but I realised that this was an opportunity for me to learn more about how to use different machines and to get better at doing different exercises. I started looking for accounts on Instagram to follow that would inspire me to work harder at the gym and teach me different exercises to do while I was there alone.

Following the right fitness influencers is honestly like having a free personal trainer. All of the workouts are ready made for you, you can save them into a Fitness folder on your Instagram like I do and when you’re at the gym, if you’re ever at a loss for exercises to do, then you can refer to them really easily. So below, I’ve listed my absolute favourites to get you started.

Natacha Oceane

Instagram: @natacha.oceane

Natacha’s fitness levels are unreal. When I think of my fitness goals, I think of Natacha. She works so hard and her endurance levels are sky high. When you watch her videos, you can see her struggling through her reps and really pushing through and I find that so inspiring. Great for really tough workouts that will improve your overall strength and build muscle. She’s always challenging herself so her page offers lots of different exercises and circuits, as well as fitness tests and clean eating tips!

Danielle Robertson

Instagram: @dannibelle

For targeted workouts, particularly abs, glutes and leg workouts, Danielle is my absolute favourite. Her workouts are really simple but very effective and she makes use of a lot of different equipment – dumbbells, ankle weights, barbells and lots of different machines. Which makes her workouts perfect for exercising at home, at the gym or both.

Maddie Lymburner

Instagram: @madfit.ig

Maddie’s workouts are so hard. But they’re great for taking your fitness to the next level. Whenever I’m getting bored of a routine or I feel like I’ve learned to do certain exercises really well, I head over to Maddie’s YouTube channel or Instagram and I have to really push through the workout. Which is great because as soon as you get comfortable with an exercise, you need to make it harder so that you’re constantly pushing your body to its limits.

The above accounts are ones that I visit time and time again. I used to follow a lot of Gymshark models. Although I respect their work as influencers and appreciate that there is a market for their workouts, I eventually found their accounts to be too heavily focused on getting that one Gymshark body – tiny waist and a big bum. All of their workouts would be focused on glutes and legs. There is definitely a huge market for that, there is no denying that. But, I wanted to follow pages that challenge your body overall. Pages that don’t just make money off promoting Gymshark leggings and taking photos of their bum. Sorry!

I hope that doesn’t sound horrible because these girls all have great bodies and they have built up really loyal fan bases. But I think that working out is more of an overall fitness goal for me, rather than striving to achieve this Instagram fitness model body.

If you’re looking for genuine workouts to get you started exercising at home or at the gym, then definitely check out these girls’ pages. I can hand on heart say that I do most of their workouts and that they constantly encourage me to challenge my body in new ways. If that’s something that you thrive on too then I’m sure you will like them as much as I do!