A Fitness Expert Solves Your Lockdown Exercise Problems

    laughing women doing exercise
    Published: 17 November 2020. Written by: Libby Galvin

    Bored of your workouts? Feeling burnt out? Or maybe you’re just a bit over it. Here, our Vitality fitness coach shares the problems his clients are facing – and explains how to solve them.

    Here we are. Nearly nine months into the ‘new normal’. Inertia has set in and lots of us have lost our fitness motivation down the back of the sofa. 

    Some days you can’t go online without seeing a photo of a friend’s 5k route or their work-from-home lunchtime vinyasa practice. But don’t be deceived. On average, activity levels have plummeted, hard. 

    In fact, Sport England reports that the proportion of the population classed as inactive increased by 7.4 per cent between March and May – that’s 3.4 million more people lacking the natural high and feel-good glow of getting their heart rate up. 

    But all it takes to turn things around are a few small steps. Whatever it is you’re struggling with, Vitality Coach Jamie Monk knows how to help you keep earning those Rewards.  

    I’ve lost all motivation to train’

    man doing yoga

    ‘I’ve faced this problem as much as clients have at times!’ says Jamie. ‘Motivation comes and goes. While it’s there, make the most of it. But it’s essential to have some non-negotiables to achieve, no matter what, so no day ends up feeling wasted.’ 

    Set a baseline of activity, but don’t set it too high – maybe it’s a certain number of steps a day (you’ll get 3 Vitality points for 7,000 steps). And when you need an extra boost, take a look at the pros, says Jamie. 

    ‘I listen to The High Performance Podcast, where they get into the minds of high performers and what makes them the way that they are. I also like a documentary series called ‘All or Nothing’ on Amazon Prime, where they follow a sports team across a season, and see the way they live. That motivates me.’

    ‘I’ve subscribed to what seems like a million fitness apps and am now overwhelmed!’

    woman on back on phone

    Health and fitness app downloads rose by 46 per cent worldwide in the first half of 2020. But don’t be afraid to delete the ones that don’t work for you.

    ‘Lots of people say to me, “I wish I could run and enjoy it, but I hate it!” My response is – just don’t do it. A running app isn’t going to be much help if you hate using it,’ says Jamie.

    ‘It comes down to being confident in what you enjoy. If it’s something unusual, why does that matter? A positive thing about being separated is that we can refocus on what WE enjoy. 

    ‘And while you audit those excess apps, ask: “Does this workout suit my needs, and what I am trying to achieve?” If you’re time poor and you’ve got a hectic life, keep the app which offers short, sharp, high-energy workouts – Peloton offers HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions which last between 5 and 20 minutes. These can enhance your cardiovascular health and strength just as much as going at it for ages at a lower intensity.’ 

    Did you know that as a member you can get lots of discounts, including Peloton and Garmin

    ‘How can I get past the short, dark days and exercise outside?’

    man running

    Garmin reported 50 per cent more outdoor runs recorded on 14 April than 9 March. But those were the heady days of spring – as winter closes in, the hideous weather doesn’t quite have the same appeal.

    ‘Start off by getting the right kit,’ says Jamie. After all, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. 

    ‘All Vitality members get 50 per cent off Runners Need trainers once a year, and 15 per cent off kit all year round.’ Use this to water- and windproof yourself for wintry trails. 

    Once you’ve got the gear, put it on first thing, no matter what time of day you plan to exercise – after all, no one can see you if you’re working from home. ‘There’s really nothing more demoralising than having to change back out of your workout kit later in the day because you haven’t achieved the workout or the walk that you wanted to,’ says Jamie. Too true.

    ‘Im feeling burnt out and too tired to exercise’

    woman exercising

    ‘Self-care is the most important thing here. You don’t HAVE to exercise at all costs.’ And when you do feel energetic enough to exercise, don’t give too much, warns Jamie. ‘We use something called the tank principle. It means only keep going to the point where you have one more left in the tank – one more lap, one more rep. Don’t continue until you’ve got nothing left,’ he says.

    Are you giving your body exactly what it needs to function every day?

    ‘Sleep is vital in terms of your energy levels and how you feel,’ says Jamie. ‘It’s essential for muscle growth and repair, energy levels and mental health. If you’re struggling, a mindfulness app like Headspace might improve your ability to drift off. 

    ‘Then make sure your diet is balanced – nutrition is fuel. Vitality members are eligible for cashback on Waitrose & Partners Good Health food, for example.’

    ‘I’m busier than ever with work and home life. How do I fit fitness in?’

    woman exercising with child

    ‘I really empathise with clients who have kids and have found their training has taken a backseat in lockdown,’ says Jamie. The answer lies in playing together – you can accumulate a lot of activity in ways that don’t feel like “fitness”. 

    ‘Maybe it’s skipping – a stellar cardio workout – or taking a family activity up a notch. If you normally go on a long, leisurely family bike ride, instead try sprint cycling. It’s just as fun but much more intense.’

    If work’s eating up your time, take calls on your Apple Watch as you circuit the local park, or break up tasks with tiny chunks of fitness activity to deposit in a ‘movement moneybox’. As Jamie explains: ‘If I had back-to-back calls, I’d do 10 squats or press-ups in between each. If you have 10 calls, you’ve done 100 reps in a day. It’s a bit like investing – make small deposits, and over time, when you look at your savings, you’ll have racked up quite a lot!’

    For more motivation to get moving, read our article on why role models are so important for inspiring women to get active and check out why getting outside is good for you, whatever the weather 

    As a Vitality member, the more active you get, the more Vitality will reward you – and, as Jamie says, even small steps add up! Log in to the Member Zone for more details.