Struggling with the pandemic has put some people’s fitness goals on hold. If you want to get back into it, start small and expand your workout over time, owners of Slash Fitness in Delray Beach advise. Photo provided
By Joyce Reingold
Last spring Margo Willis, a seasonal resident of Delray Beach, saw pandemic closures knock out favorite parts of her fitness routine.
First to go were the chair yoga classes she and her husband, Stuart, enjoyed several times a week at their Boca Raton gym. Swimming was out when the community pool closed. They could still walk, another activity they enjoyed together. But as the pandemic delayed their return North, they faced the challenge of muggy heat.
“I was not comfortable walking, but I continued to do it because I knew I had to. There was no choice,” says Willis, a retired teacher. “The other thing is, you start to realize you really have to cut down on your portions, or somewhere you have to cut down on calories, because if you’re not exercising, how are you burning calories?”
Maintaining healthy exercise and eating habits amid what Willis describes as “a sitting culture” has been a twin challenge of the lockdowns, shutdowns and the general stress of pandemic life.
In a University of Florida survey of more than 3,000 people conducted between April and June 2020, 38% said they’d added weight since the stay-at-home orders were issued in March — a phenomenon pop culture has dubbed the “quarantine 15,” give or take a few pounds. Just over 34% of respondents said they’d exercised less.
A year into the pandemic, signs are everywhere that people in South County are again on the move, reclaiming favorite ways of staying fit or finding new activities to keep them within their coronavirus-safety comfort zones. Walking trails are busy and gyms are open again, many offering socially distanced workouts outdoors and on Zoom.
But busting out of a fitness slump may certainly feel more challenging while the pandemic pulses on. If you’re feeling logy and looking for motivation to get started, Delray Beach certified personal trainer Austin Brock suggests letting a simple philosophy guide your efforts: “better every day.”
“Just because you don’t think you can drink a gallon of water a day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a sip,” he says. “Something is always better than nothing.”
Incremental improvement is the platform on which Brock and co-founder Joe Ardagna have built Slash Fitness, their studio on Southeast Sixth Avenue in Delray Beach. People of all abilities and ages progress at their own speed, one movement at a time.
“Our philosophy is to focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve,” the owners say on their website.
“I tell people all the time, start with 10 minutes and you’ll be amazed at how a 10-minute walk can turn into a 30-, 45-, 60-minute walk,” Brock says.
Here are some other strategies he says can help:
Make a plan: “Creating a plan is so important but within that plan, what’s in it is important, too. And a lot of it again seems like basic things, but if you don’t have the basics, or the foundation, it’s tough to add on that.
“So … make sure you’re scheduling in your seven to eight hours of sleep a night, make sure you’re scheduling in your … 45 to 60 minutes of activity throughout the day.
“Make sure you’re scheduling in times to eat. I think as much as we’re all glued to our computers at times now, people forget to do that.”
Buddy up: “Getting an accountability partner is such a huge thing, too. And that doesn’t have to be a gym. It doesn’t have to be a trainer. It can be your spouse. It can be your kids. It can be a family member across the country, or it can be a neighbor.
“But it’s somebody that when you are having one of those days where you’re just not feeling it, and you think, all right, I’m just going to sit this workout out, you’ve got that person on the other side of that phone, or that screen or the fence on the other side the yard, telling you, get your butt off the couch and we’re going for a walk.”
Get going: “Just start. I tell people that all the time. Just start doing something. Our bodies were meant to move. When we’re sedentary, that’s when we get inside of our own heads. I don’t feel good. I’m tired. I’m sluggish today. Oh, the weather’s not perfect. You know, I don’t have my cool new shoes yet. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Just start doing something. And the easiest thing you can do is open up your front door and walk. And once you start doing that, you can build on that.”
The Willises have resumed all their favorite activities, but Margo says she learned during the lockdown how helpful doing activities in “small chunks” can be. She and her husband walk four laps around the shaded Cypress Swamp Boardwalk at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to notch a mile.
“Just take what you have and expand on it,” she says.
Or as Brock puts it: “If you can be a little bit better day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, by the end of a year’s time, you’ll be amazed at what kind of numbers have changed in your life.”
Joyce Reingold writes about health and healthy living. Send column ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.