Personal Narrative: How a daily fitness routine changed my mental outlook



A workout can be beneficial in maintaining a daily routine and moving forward during these times

Bence Szego, Opinion Writer

Back before COVID-19 took over the news, and things were still normal, I had a reasonably dedicated athletic schedule. Personal fitness was the clock around which my life ran, no pun intended. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were for fencing, with competitions on the weekends, and Tuesdays and Thursdays were the practice days for my climbing team. Since almost every day contained a workout or some form of exercise, part of my identity became tied to the idea of general fitness.

The pattern of workouts, cardio, core, legs, upper body, cardio again, and recovery made up a large part of the routine which shaped the way I lived. The arrival of COVID-19, and the ubiquitous quarantine we are all living under stopped that routine. Most areas had closed including my fencing club and the climbing gym. Being confined at home without teammates or a coach to push me, my daily workouts stopped. Overall, my previously tight hold on fitness slackened.

My climbing coaches, understanding that the entire team now lacked anywhere to train, assigned us daily workouts to at least keep fit at home. What turned me around is the day I first attempted the work out. It was supposed to be a bare minimum. The exercises and repetition counts that the coaches assigned were more in line with a warm up routine rather than my usual strength building regimen. In a moment that was a slap in the face, I was unable to make it through more than half, where before the entire workout would have been a breeze.

Quarantine, especially the lack of a general routine, had wiped my drive and cleared any goals I held previously. The need to maintain grades disappeared with school. Getting stronger in any sense also was put on pause, as without a coach or peer, I had nobody to compare progress or obvious regression with.

To find that I had lost the ability to do something so simple gave me a direction to work towards. Fitness provided a goal: to maintain my fitness and possibly get stronger again. That drove me back into a productive mindset, and kept me moving. Personally, I see that as the primary lesson of quarantine. We have all heard the advice: Stay busy, keep working, try to make it like normal, but the truth is that our situation is anything but normal right now. I have found that the key to staying on top of my mentality, and making sure I keep myself in a good place is less to stay busy, and more to find a goal and stay focused and productive.

My daily workouts take up around 45 minutes every day. The addition of a goal, and the return of some routine into my life means that for those 45 minutes, I am working. Staying productive during quarantine does not have to be doing a hundred mindless tasks in order to keep busy; For many including myself, applied effort is key.

I encourage everyone to find a goal, and work towards it. It can be small, like running once around the block every day, or large, but the point is to find an anchor and work from there. If you know that every day you are going to do your one thing, whatever that may be, you have a point from which a new daily routine can develop. In the time of quarantine, we cannot expect to carry on as if nothing has changed, but we must apply ourselves and make sure that despite the changes, we are still progressing personally.