Last week I sent a group message to all my online clients asking them to describe their quarantine exercise experiences.
There were a lot of expected answers like "lacking in motivation", "missing a training group" or "missing the training vibe", and this I thought was going to explain the drop in training consistency I had been observing (myself included).
Watching some client's compliance rate drop by 50% in the first 2-3 weeks of quarantine was concerning, and I spent a lot of time making their programs easier or more enjoyable in a bid to increase this %. However, it didn't really work, there were spikes in "motivation" and then they would drop back again. This got to me for a few weeks until I realized I was doing the same... In the chaos of it all, I hadn't been writing my own program, effectively making my compliance drop from 95% to 0%. In the moment of this happening, I felt fine, because my daily activity level or NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) had skyrocketed. I was walking every morning and some evenings, I was doing a lot of building work with my sauna and had started renovating the gym. On top of this I was riding my bike about 3x a week and doing sporadic bits of training with rocks and the leftover gym equipment nobody could borrow from the gym.
THIS is where the inspiration came from to ask the question of "how is it really going" with training at home.
I was interested in comparing the information between the ones who became more consistent through quarantine, and those who had dropped off the consistency wagon.
Interestingly, most people hadn't dropped off the wagon at all, they were just (like me) doing other things.
Some have started taking real control of their caloric intake and putting more effort into their nutrition, in the transition they are falling behind on their "workouts" but getting out for walks. As a realisation, I have started to help these people with nutritional information instead of providing workouts.
Some have been using parts of the workouts as warm-ups and then going for a run, because they work from home, eat from home, socialise from home and 1000 other things from home, they want to get out of the house to train. So instead of me thinking they have done half their workout and got bored, I now give them short workouts as extended warm-ups or recoveries for their runs/ bike rides.
However all the more interesting are those who have improved in their compliance altogether. From what I understand this has happened for two reasons.
1) Normal life is busy, quarantine life isn't as much.
Without our social calendar, the diary is a lot freer to fill up with other things. When you don't have other things to fill the calendar up with, training can be prioritised. Also using exercise to help break up the day seems to be another key component of this. "Il work till 11, go for a walk, eat lunch and work till 4, then do my workout, then relax".
2) The gym is intimidating, home is not.
As much as we try to make gyms not intimidating, sometimes it can be difficult. If you are early on your fitness journey and are working out next to people 1,2,3,4 or 5 years into theirs, it can either be inspiring or scary. We do our best to make training facilities inviting and exciting for those at the start of their journey, but coaches are not mind readers. Training at home has provided some with an opportunity to play catch up, work their asses off and come back from this a new person (this is what really excites me about quarantine being over).
Taking a step back from all the information that my superhuman clients, provided gave me a real insight into something important.
When our daily structure is forced to change, it doesn't matter if we change with it or start something new. As long as we focus on controlling SOMETHING to give us a reference point which then gives us an area to build on.
So if you have changed from going to the gym 5 times a week, and now you go for 3 runs, do 3 half workouts and walk every day, it's ok because you have control.
The ones who are trying to make their home training like their actual gym (unless you have a full home gym) are fighting a losing battle. Even if you forget "training" for another 2 months, take control of your health, walk twice a day, lose some body fat, and find an interest in nutrition, that's ok too.
If you feel lost, find something you can control and put all your spare energy into making it develop.