The inevitable has happened, and Ireland is in lockdown. The situation we are dealing with is unprecedented, and we are presented with a uniquely challenging set of circumstances; cut off from family members and social activities, we have never been more frightened, isolated, frustrated or sedentary.

As an industry, fitness professionals, coaches and nutrition experts work to help you with your health and fitness goals. And the fitness industry has changed overnight. We’re no longer able to work with you in person, hold a bootcamp class, meet you in the gym to train or roll out a strength and conditioning session for a team. But we are still here. We’re holding virtual bootcamp classes that you can do from your own sitting room, we’re filming exercise libraries that can be sent to teams, and we’re working with our one to one clients via video conferencing apps. We’re thinking on our feet and adapting to every new challenge that has been thrown at us, so that we can remain available to help you with your goals.

The terrain has changed a little though, and the goals have shifted. Our philosophy has always been to help you be the best version of you. But with the current situation, the best version of you has probably changed to “the best version of you under the circumstances”. And that last part is key; it’s the part that means you have to stop giving yourself a hard time about your lack of motivation or your food choices or your inability to get out and train. As your trainer, I am telling you that it’s OK to not be losing weight or gaining muscle right now, and I’m going to go one step further and say that you may well even gain a few pounds of body fat and that’s OK too. In the scheme of things, some of our health goals have had to be temporarily put on hold – along with our social lives, visits to the gym and meals out! We’re all adapting and that includes having to adapt your expectations. 

The base line here is that we have to pick the biggest and most important goal and focus on that – and for everyone it has to start with mental health. Because when all of this ends (and it will!), you need to be mentally strong enough to do what is necessary to fight to get back anything you have lost as a result of not being able to exercise. 

Protecting our physical health plays a huge role in preserving our mental health. Not everyone is in a position to get out and walk right now but if you are, do it! Walk as much as you can!! Walking is the most accessible, easy, uplifting form of exercise we have at the moment and it has the added benefit of providing you with fresh air and Vitamin D, which you get from the sun. It will also help you sleep better and quality sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. If you can’t get out, join our online exercise class, which we run via Zoom every weekday morning at 10am for 25 minutes (text me on 087 963 7666 to sign up!).

Have a daily routine – whether you are working from home, temporarily laid off, living alone or trying to organise kids, a routine is vital for your sanity. Eat, wake and sleep at the same time every day. Plan your other activities in advance and if you have none, find some! Read, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, meditate, keep a diary, learn to cook something new, have a virtual coffee with friends via a video conferencing app. Make use of the free resources that have been made available online. Plan your meals and shop accordingly (remember, Future You is a virtual prisoner in your own house – use that to your advantage when planning the weekly food shop!). Don’t drink – alcohol is a depressant and will also affect your sleep. Seek out sunshine, even if it is only through the living room window. Relish time with family and with pets.

The little things we do to protect our mental health now will help us to get back on track with our bigger fitness goals later on. So keep reminding yourself that – just for now – the best version of  you is waiting in the near future. For today, you just have to be good enough.

Meredith