Let’s Talk About the Privilege and Pressure to Work Out Right Now

Now, listen, I get it. Movement is my life. I love it in all of its incredibly sweaty glory and you might too. So I get why not being able to go to the gym, pound the pavement with your running group, take a class, or teach a class might be a big deal to you. I, too, am now sweating at home. I, too, am teaching classes from home. And I, too, am privileged to be doing so.

In the spirit of getting through this thing together, here are nine assorted tips I want to share with anyone who’s thinking about their fitness right now.

1. Honor the fact that you can work out right now if you want to.

I know I said it already, but I’m going to say it again. Being in a position to think about your fitness goals during this time is a privilege. Take a moment to let that sink in. And I mean sink all the way in. Let it seep into your veins until you are radiating with gratitude. Your body is an incredible vessel, and movement is a blessing. So it’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t focus on your fitness goals if that’s what you want and are able to do, but I do think it’s important to remind yourself of how fortunate you are to do so. Value and appreciate your ability and position during this chaotic time. Maybe meet yourself on your mat or living room floor with a little more compassion and rejoice in your progress with a little more awe.

Of course, understanding that our society is basically built on some of us having privilege while others don’t or, even more specifically, that some people suffer so that others have certain privileges, is imperative. Social stratification—based on race, class, gender, sexuality, size, ability, and more—is deeply woven into the fabric of this country. So whether we’re speaking of fitness or literally anything else, disentangling these threads of privilege necessitates acknowledgement that they do, in fact, exist and then figuring out how we can challenge the systems that continue to weave them deeper. It means being cognizant of the fact that some of us having what we need and want probably means that other people aren’t getting what they need and want. This pandemic is shining an extra-bright light on all of this.

If you’re feeling like I often do—that merely acknowledging privileges we might have doesn’t really do that much to right any wrongs—I suggest doing some things to put your privileges to good use.

Think through some ways you can contribute to your community that makes use of your privilege. Can you donate money to a mutual aid fund? Can you volunteer to shop for groceries for an elderly or immune compromised person in your neighborhood? Can you sew masks or provide tutoring or other virtual services? Or, in the context of these online classes, can you donate maybe a bit extra for someone else to be able to take class?

2. Don’t get sucked into the “no excuses” mindset.

Just because a lot of us have more time at home, it doesn’t mean we are obligated to spend it working out. While everyone is on all the Insta and FB Lives, it’s okay if you sit out to be “live” in your own life. Even though I, myself, am one of the trainers/instructors offering live classes and other online offerings, I hope that you look at all these options as exactly that: options. Offerings. Opportunities. Not pressure-filled, FOMO-inducing obligations. If you sit one or two (or all) of them out, it’s okay. They will still be there later. And if you’re just not that into working out at home, that’s okay too!

3. Now’s a great time to exercise simply for stress relief and overall wellness versus #gains.

Maybe now’s not the time to dial in your next-level fitness goals. Maybe you couldn’t even if you wanted to because you don’t have access to the space or equipment you’d need to do it. That’s fine. Try not to let the pressure to keep going as you always have contribute to the stress that is already surrounding us. Because it is surrounding us on every platform and channel, empty grocery store aisles, and taped-off markers on the ground. Instead, use movement for release and relief, for fun, and to keep yourself healthy when and how it best serves you.

4. Let yourself be bummed or angry about how all this changes your exercise routine.

There’s no one right way to feel now. Feeling upset about an event being canceled, to feel lost or confused about how to switch up your routine, or to be frustrated that you feel like your hard-earned progress has suddenly been thwarted—this is all natural and okay.

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Fitness Advice & Workout Tips

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