Anybody that went on Facebook marketplace from March 2020 to present will attest to the fact that the home gym equipment industry got a nice bump during Covid. Dumbbells in particular were in very high demand during the self isolation and lockdown periods of 2020. The inexorable laws of supply and demand temporarily made Dumbbells worth $5 a pound!
As many of us, now working from home, found that we had a lot more free time in our schedules, fitness came to the forefront. Let’s pretend that there wasn’t a lot of panic buying by the ‘do two curls and check instagram’ crew. Only serious fitness people were buying, but even they were enough to collapse the supply.
Major outlets and online marketplaces such as Amazon were completely sold out of beginner level dumbbells up to late 2020. Unless you could curl 55lbs with one hand there weren’t a lot of options for beginners. There was a pretty significant uptick in interest in ‘bodyweight fitness’ as people looked to fill the gap left by lockdown gym closures.
As a collective we sort of undertook this new fitness adventure. The journey to build ideal physiques using our body weight and whatever we had at hand, be it a dumbbell, band, or jug full of water. A few of us even succeeded.
At the very least we opened our eyes to what could be possible without gyms or a lot of equipment. Just like transitioning to working from home, we adopted a ‘new normal’. What does this mean for post-Covid times?
Who will mire the gains? Where will the post-spin class lattes be consumed?
The Quarantine 15 and The Covid Bod conundrum
In recent months some of us have had the privilege of returning back to work. In that, we have had to sacrifice our physical transformation, possibly newly found discipline and overall health. Some of us are just baking less artisanal sourdough. Most of us are still chilling on zoom call wishing we could blow up our laptops.
Soon though, our commutes, work days, and daily tasks will once again burn the extra energy that we were previously able to put into ourselves during lockdown. What’s worse is that the ‘normal routine’ of the world has still not caught its 2019 rhythm. With Work From Home on the rise it’s unclear what the normal routine will be.
With this transition we are all facing different obstacles so there is no one way to go about it. Maybe you have just started an entirely new career. Perhaps you have just brought a baby into the world. Maybe there are less employees at work and now you have more responsibility and less time.
Irrespective of what your new normal is, the science is clear, messing with routines, although it can spur on creativity, definitely takes away some of your mental power.
The fitness routine you had before may still be out of reach while the fitness routine you have adopted may no longer be the best fit for you. Many people managed to progress in their fitness goals during lockdown, and a fair number of us probably managed to maintain. Most of us though probably put on the ‘quarantine 15’ while chowing down on endless takeaways and being bored/stressed out of our minds.
Wherever you are now you’re going to face a renewed set of challenges to get back to where you want to be.
How to get back to ‘Normal’ post Covid
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people who started working out in 2020 you’ll have learned that if you miss a day at the gym it has negative effects. It negatively affects both your mood and your performance. You are cranky, more exhausted, and you’re not as confident as you were before.
One thing we all had to learn though, is that consistency is not always within our control. Indeed one thing is clear, the vast majority of people we never again have as much time to workout as they did during lockdown.
In a cruel twist of fate we could have all gotten jacked had we had the foresight to stock up on some sweet sweet free weights.
What is the solution to a hybrid schedule and inconsistent access to fitness? Better minds than us have created great workout programs like bodyweight fitness over on Reddit or the BuffDudes various workout programs.
We’re not your fitness experts, we are your fitness finance buddies for sure, but we do know one thing for certain, in stressful and inconsistent times the most important thing is the basics.
This can be hard for some of us. Working out does become addictive, for many. It is not easy to lift light or limit movements when you know you can go heavy. Sometimes it often feels like it’s not even worth our time. Poor form or injury is going to be extra bad in the new fitness schedule though, so be ready. The new routine is going to require you to maximize your workouts when you can and to have good analogues for when the gym isn’t available.
Fancy machines are great and all but solid old school pieces like squat racks, barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells are the tool for maximizing muscle work and flexibility of workout.
These tools and their exercises are usually the go to for any beginner recommendations and like it or not, on an inconsistent schedule, with months out of the gym, your muscle memory has suffered. How much we can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly not going to maintain 100%.
The side benefits of these types of workouts is that they can fairly easily transition to lockdown fitness without too much hassle. Basically the goal needs to be to construct a system that works in and out of lockdown based on movements suitable for both home and gym.
While that is no easy feat, you can achieve it if you put your mind to it and search out the right programs for you.
Another way to maintain your new physique is to try something new. Yoga has and continues to be a widely practiced way of staying fit. The good news is you don’t have to join a class to participate in the art of Yoga. Youtube is a mecca for wannabe yogis. It is also perfect for maintaining a functional core for our stronger squatters out there.
There is one thing we still have to figure out though, the new timeline for our workouts. Offices might be 2 days a week or 0, we just don’t know. It might be challenging to figure it out.
What Time To Workout When Your Schedule is Odd?
People in the service industry and night workers are probably going to think we’re a big bunch of babies complaining about odd schedules, but it is a relevant factor. Many fitness newbies and oldies alike have gotten into very flexible workout schedules that aren’t going to last forever.
I know that during lockdown we could take a workout hour at any time between 6AM and 5PM, it was awesome! The problem is though, a lack of routine leads to failure in consistent fitness. The key question is do we try to go at set times, or go with the new flow. Do we do morning or evening?
Use The Morning To Remove The Guess Work
Without doubt, waking up before the sun and accomplishing something can give you a great sense of power. A master of the universe type of feeling. Yes getting an extra two hours of sleep is great but getting up, gymmed, washed, and fed in that time is even better.
If you can workout before you have to start your job you won’t have to worry about office days or commutes. With a practiced schedule of rising early and a little investment, any new lockdowns will be a piece of cake for you.
You might be lucky and have a longer term Work From Home thing going on and you can leverage your previous commuting time to work out.
This advice can also be applied to nighttime or lunchtime workouts but these times are definitely less set in stone than a 6AM squatfest.
Remove Routine Embrace Gym Chaos
Early bird workouts are great. The thing is though, everybody is different, and their bodies respond differently to different exercises.
You need to listen to your body to find out what times and methods are going to work for you. It is unlikely that you are going to feel as good in a chaotic schedule as during fixed workouts but it might be your only option.
The ‘new normal’ is likely going to give you a few random opportunities and if you are the type of person who gets anxious in routines then you might have hit the jackpot. New types of working arrangements, traffic levels, changes in consumer/business behaviour, all of them will contribute.
If you think you can be flexible and highly reactive to your schedule then you can totally fit in random workouts. It will, however, be significantly harder.
If there is one thing that Covid lockdowns proved to us it is that the majority of people actually have a toxic and fragile mindset. While many people adapted well and made the best of a stressful situation a lot of people simply collapsed under the weight of change.
In fitness terms this varied from stopping entirely to gymbros making variously accurate complaints about the closing of fitness facilities. Some people even sounded like cult members saying that the gym was the cure for Covid-19 and that closing gyms would kill more people.
The frustration was real, the complaints, a bit much. This showed us the importance of training our minds to expect things like lockdown. To build a resilient self.
When we take on too much it can feel like we are leading multiple different lives. There is “work me”, “gym me”, “parent me:” and “taco tuesday me”. When we were forced to pause some of these people and change the other, it was hard. That is why it is important to delete the ideas of gym me and parent/spouse/home me and replace them with the idea of resilient me.
Regular exercise is scientifically proven to improve your mood, metal health, focus, thinking, learning and judgment skills. It will also improve your sleep, sexual health and above all it will lead to a longer life. You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.
Have you ever noticed that the hardest part about going to the gym, is the going part? Once we are in the thrails of a workout, we are focused, we are determined.
The resilient me is focused on creating systems for the outcome. It is focused on eliminating the ‘hard part is going’ habit. How is that supposed to be done?
The key to resilience is incorporating practice and visualization into your fitness routine. In the most simple terms this means working backward from your outcomes and creating multiple starting points. If you want bigger triceps you should be formulating multiple avenues to get there, not just one program. You need to know how to get there with no gym, with limited gym, and with full time gym.
Do not fall into the mindset of calisthenics only or compound lifts only. Mix up your workouts enough that you can pivot long enough to make new habits if needed.
The last thing you need to add to your plate is a calorie count. We were all quite happy to monitor our caloric intake when we had extra time. But going back to work, getting the kids up and out to school, getting the house in order, and all the millions of other little things that suck up or day, are just not a high priority.
However, you have no excuse to still be ignorant of the fitness superpower know as meal prep.
There are millions of quick meal prep recipes to ensure you get all the calories you need to lose, maintain or gain, without taking up too much of your valuable time. Take an hour or two on the weekend to prep your meals for your week. With enough practice (actually, probably only a couple of weeks) you can always be two weeks ahead of your nutrition.
Also, for the benefit of the tape, frequent takeout is now BANNED.
To start your meal prep thinking, plug your stats into our TDEE/BMR calculator and go from there, building calorie specific meals for your goals.
It is important to remain accountable to yourself and your loved ones. The problem that we had with this during the pre-Covid era was that a lot of it was based on Social Media exposure and flex/progress pics.
When the world ground to a halt the other side of that motivational coin was laid bare. Progress pics are great when you are progressing, but when progress stalls they become a weight around your neck.
What’s the ‘new normal’ for accountability? Well, it’s likely still progress pics. Hiding away in the shadows by yourself isn’t going to make you more accountable than taking a few pictures for yourself. That’s the key though, you should be monitoring progress and keeping accountability within your close circle.
The fickle nature of Social Media and the inconsistent future we’re facing is likely going to increase your FOMO or self criticism more than needed. While this has always been an issue, it has really become prominent since regular people couldn’t imitate the fakery put out there by influencers.
Unrealistic standards and a changed atmosphere aren’t going to help you. The people who were there for you during lockdown will. Your accountability group is your covid-support group.
A Fitter or Fatter Future?
It is a difficult thing to see, increasing obesity rates. No doubt that Covid has made this bad trend even worse. While a lot of people did get fit, a lot of people also got lazy and ate too much junk food.
The one hope for the future is that the lockdowns have laid bare the unhealthy parts of our societies and economies and made people wise up a little bit. The rise of home workouts and the collective effort to ‘find a way’ bodes well for resilience and accountability.
There are not comfortable times ahead. Rising inequality and climate change are going to require a lot of serious effort and thinking. Will the resilient me be the legacy of Covid, can we dream of a swole globe? We’ll have to wait and see.