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Article authored by Doreen Kuenzler, Fitness Instructor at Hilton Head Health

Covid-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, pretty much threw us all out of our daily routine, and we’ve had to create and adapt to a totally new “normal”.  Our daily lives have been completely upended, and although everyone’s experience is different, we can choose how we create a normal that works for us as an individual, especially when it comes to our exercise or fitness routine.   

Motivation must come from within.  It can be stimulated, but your “why” comes from a deeply personal place.  Motivation itself is fleeting, so being able to tap into a place within yourself that is your unique “why” is essential to sustaining an exercise or fitness regimen.   

Not everyone enjoys exercise, but if you are able to find something that’s the least little bit fun, you are more likely to keep doing it.    Deciding what’s important as far as your desire to be healthy or fit is a completely personal, yet vital thing.   

Here are three simple steps to kick start that motivation! 

Schedule Your Work Out 

smart watch

When my gym closed in mid-March, I was really thrown for a loop.  What would I do?  My condominium complex has a small gym, but that closed as well.  How would I work out with no equipment?   Our gym owner was generous enough to allow us to check out some light equipment such as dumbbells or kettlebells and has kept up with posting workouts for us to perform at home.   

Many of us, myself included, have experienced some anxiety and/or even sadness with “everything going on”.   I have found there is relief in action.  Whether it’s just getting outside for a walk or short bike ride, my mood is improved like magic!  Exercise has so many benefits as we all know, and improving our mental state is a huge one! 

Before “all this”, I worked out about 5-6 days a week at my gym, so I committed to structuring my new “normal” with pretty much that same schedule of days during the week.  

It’s an actual appointment in my calendar, complete with a reminder.   As easy as it would be to just sleep in every day, I set an alarm on the days my workouts are scheduled, so it helps keep me on track and accountable.  Which is a great segue-way in to step two: 

 Create Some Accountability 

So many of us have been laid off, including fitness trainers, and it’s been so refreshing to watch how we all have had to reinvent how we interact with clients, whether it’s through ZOOM classes or streaming live through Facebook or other platforms.   Adapting and changing how we serve our clients has shown tremendous creativity and ingenuity.  An added benefit is the accountability factor.  Whether or not we attend a virtual class with a trainer, an additional option is having a friend or two that we can either virtually work out with or call or text about what we’ve done that day for our exercise routine.  

friends working out

  One of my favorite aspects of my gym is the community.  Having a great group to work out with or talk to about fitness has made all the difference to me.  In the past, I was a loner when it came to exercise.  I’d put my headphones in, and go to the gym solo.  It’s fine here and there, but I’ve found having a buddy or two or three or eleven has been a game-changer.  We‘ve even texted each other with a challenge for the day  such as 10 squats every hour on the hour.   It may sound silly, but it works!   The whole “shared fate” thing has its merits.  We may not be in the same boat, but we’re all in this together.  Find an accountability buddy near or far, and you’re setting yourself up for success, and most likely some FUN! 

Set a Goal 

crossing finish line

Have you always wondered what it would be like to run a 5k, try a Mud Run, or even Spartan Race?  Maybe you’ve dreamed about playing on a volleyball or softball team at the Rec Center… whatever it may be, write that goal down and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day!    If your goal is visible, it can become a part of your “why” and overall motivation.  A goal instills a sense of purpose, and taking small steps towards that goal every day is not only empowering, but you’re sure to gain confidence and an overall feeling of self-worth.  

  A few years ago I set a goal of running a 30k trail run.   It’s important to note that I do NOT enjoy running!    So why did I set that goal?  It was more of a mind and fortitude thing for me than anything else.  Since I did not enjoy it, could I and would I still train for it?  You bet I did!  When the day came, the weather was less than ideal.  Windy, raining, and cold, I set out with the intention that even if I crawled, I would finish that race.  The course was mostly thick mud due to the rain, so it was slow going.  By the end of the race, (almost 5 hours) I couldn’t feel my hands, or my legs, and could barely walk, much less run.  Physically, I was spent, but I had set that goal and would finish no matter what.  Sheer grit and heart got me to the finish line.  Goal met! Actually seeing a goal through to the very end is extremely gratifying, and well worth being uncomfortable.   I came in next to the last place in that race- all the vendors had shut down, the band had stopped playing, but by golly, I crossed that finish line!   

Here’s a link to an interesting article on setting fitness goals.

Those are three ways you can “kickstart” your fitness motivation during these trying times and beyond. I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from Theodore Roosevelt: 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds…” 

Strive, friends, strive! 

Doreen Kuenzler
Fitness Instructor

Click here for more information about the wellness and weight loss programs at Hilton Head Health, recently named the #1 Wellness Resort the Country by USA Today