If you’re fortunate enough to be physically healthy and at home during COVID-19, it’s important to stay active, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exercising can help reduce stress and anxiety for your whole family, and become a crucial coping mechanism for the unique mental pressures of quarantine.
Anna Kaiser, celebrity trainer and founder of the dance-based fitness franchise AKT, is self-quarantining with her husband and 3-year-old son in New York City, a COVID-19 hotspot. But that isn't stopping her from moving.
“Being active and working out is incredibly important right now,” said Kaiser, whose celebrity clients include Shakira, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kelly Ripa. “It’s one of those things that’s a non-starter for your sanity. You absolutely have to find a way to be active. There are varying levels of that."
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Everyone, including Kaiser, has been forced to get creative in order to stay active.
“I am a person who likes to wake up, get out and get going,” said Kaiser. “That’s been challenging because we have to figure out how to get up and be motivated but not go anywhere.”
Like many studios across the country, Kaiser has closed her in-person locations during the quarantine but is offering free and discounted classes on social media and AKT On Demand.
Here are some of Kaiser’s tips for prioritizing exercise during these unprecedented times.
1. Designate a workout area of your home.
It’s difficult to maintain a workout area in your home, especially in cramped quarters with children. But Kaiser encourages exercisers to be creative, and to truly keep the area designated for workouts only.
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You can move your bed to one side, for example, or temporarily replace your coffee table or dining room table with interlocking foam pads. Even the open space in your kitchen may suffice, she said.
“We’re all in a new normal right now. All you really need is a space for one yoga mat, and purchase a set of light weights and heavy weights,” said Kaiser. “If you have additional equipment needs, experiment and see where they fit, and don’t move them. Keep the space sacred.”
Kaiser recommended setting up your computer and virtual setup nearby, and making sure that you have a very strong Internet connection.
“It’s nice to have that press-play-and-go setup,” Kaiser said. “It feels cathartic to have created that space. You don’t have to scramble.”
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2. Get your family engaged and on board.
Kaiser and her husband Carlos rearrange their schedule daily in order to make sure they both get a workout. This means that one of them has to leave the house with their son Brooks and go for a (socially distanced) walk, while the other spouse works out in their apartment.
“We’re trying,” Kaiser said. “In the beginning, it was so haphazard that we had to start setting time the night before to make our schedules for the next day,” Kaiser said. “Both of you need to be actively engaged. One person is on duty while the other is trying to exercise or work. The scheduling of life has to be a joint effort.”
3. Ditch bad food choices.
Diet is directly intertwined with your workout motivation, according to Kaiser.
“When you take that time to breathe and connect, whether you’re doing meditation or working up that sweat, you just crave better foods,” said Kaiser.
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Also, do your best to limit junk food. Out of sight, out of mind works for many people.
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“Have good options at home. Have tons of steamed vegetables ... Have everything prepared the night before or in the beginning of the day, and throw it in the microwave. Drink tons of water especially when you’re inside because you’re not getting the humidity from outside.”
4. Keep your meal-time rituals alive.
It's important to have real meals at the table, to help avoid snacking all day long. Try and stick to a schedule.
“Right now, many of us are eating while working, eating while watching TV,” said Kaiser. “If you don’t give that meal space, you’ll crave food all day long. I am guilty of wanting to just sit on the couch, but now, we always go to the table. We make that transition happen and keep that as a ritual. It will make a difference. It’s all about creating that mind-body connection, which will motivate you to work out.”
5. Connect with people, virtually.
There is one silver lining to this pandemic, according to Kaiser.
“We can all take solace in the fact that we are actually in this together,” said Kaiser. “Everything that you’re feeling is felt by everyone around you.”
We can take advantage of this shared experience by connecting with people online during our workouts.
“I’m a people person,” Kaiser said. “I get so much energy from being with other people—connecting with clients and friends via Zoom and on Instagram...Do live workouts, connect with someone in the moment, whether it’s on a private training level or if you’re part of a community. Hold each other accountable. That has become even more important in our isolation.”