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Summer 2020 is many things, including odd, unusual, and unlike any summer we’ve had before. Countries around the world are starting to ease restrictions (some faster than others). Where I live in Ontario, Canada, we have just entered phase three, meaning that indoor activities are reopening. I recently received notice that my gym has a tentative reopening date, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. How will the equipment be shared? Will masks be mandatory while I’m already struggling to breathe on the Stairmaster?
Although I’m missing certain aspects of the gym, I’m hesitant to return. In addition to the safety reasons, I’ve been enjoying my gym-less exercise routine. I used to perceive an active lifestyle as strictly going to the gym and would turn down other, more enjoyable forms of activity, with the idea that it wouldn’t count as a workout. After over four months of not stepping foot in the gym, I can confidently say that this idea no longer holds. This crazy time has allowed me to rediscover things about myself, such as my love of competition and sports, which I hadn’t experienced since high school and my love of the outdoors.
Another great bonus to my new routine is the price – free. Before this, I was guilty of correlating prices to the quality of the workout. With one of Canada’s leading gym memberships costing $70 per month and specialty Spin, Yoga, and Pilates studios charging upwards of $30 a class, it’s easy to view health and fitness as a wealth privilege and not aligning with your savings goals.
Below are some fitness activities that I have enjoyed over the last few months, social distance style, while not sacrificing my financial goals in the process.
My renewed love of sports has been a big realization for me these last few months. I started going to the gym in high school and shifted away from the sports leagues that I had been a part of since I was a kid. I grew up playing basketball and soccer and quickly gave them up in favour of hanging out with my friends. As the years went by, it became increasingly difficult to find ways to incorporate sports into my life. It’s much less common and available for women to pick up a sports game with friends or join a sports league. Hopefully, that can change.
This began because without the gym and sports leagues cancelled, my boyfriend and I were looking for an activity to do together. With social distancing measures in place, tennis was the obvious choice for two. Neither of us was seasoned players; however, soon, we played a few times a week at community courts. Throw in a few drinks at a friend’s outdoor BBQ, and we created our own amateur mixed doubles league to continue throughout the summer, all completely free.
I’ve gotten more fun and enjoyment out of playing tennis this summer than I ever have to do my usual workouts. Something so unique about competition and camaraderie in sports makes you feel like you aren’t exercising at all.
Even if you don’t have a group, grab one other person, and you can get a match going. There are free community courts everywhere, and rackets are relatively cheap, especially stowed away in your family’s basement from twenty years ago.
As someone who used to run consistently, it’s easy to discount walking as a good source of physical activity. Shouldn’t I be sweating and struggling to breathe to see any progress? This was my previously poor perspective of thinking. Another lapse in judgment was feeling like the only place I could do cardio was at the gym, and I would go to the gym on a beautiful day only to see it from my treadmill. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
What started as just a way to get out of my one-bedroom apartment became a crucial part of my daily physical activity and mental health practices. When working from home, I would use my normally 40-minute commute and incorporate a walk around the neighbourhood. It would clear my head and set me up nicely for the day.
Now that I’m back in the office, I’m still trying to incorporate walking during my lunch, and maybe before work to muster up the willpower. It’s a great activity to explore your neighbourhood or see new places. If it’s later in the evening and I’m tired from work, I find myself turning to a long walk as my form of exercise. It’s great for my mental health, I’ve still seen improvements in my fitness, and it’s a form of exercise that energizes me, not drains me.
Will this new habit stay with me in the -20-degree weather? Maybe not, but I’m enjoying it for the time being. I suggest putting on your favourite podcast or playlist for the full experience.
I began doing yoga more consistently a few years ago. Rotating between different styles and studios until I found what I enjoyed most. When I was recovering from some health issues, I turned to yoga as a gentle form of exercise, and it became an essential practice for my mental health. My local studio provided me with a great sense of community and belonging, a much different atmosphere than I had ever experienced at the gym.
Although I highly recommend going to a studio for the unique experience, I realize that it’s not available to everyone, whether for financial reasons or with new social distancing measures. You can still incorporate yoga into our new “normal”; all you need is a mat. While we were in full swing of lockdown, I turned to online sources, like YouTube, to guide me through my yoga practice. My favourite being Yoga With Adriene. She has hundreds of videos for all levels. While practicing at home, it’s hard not to think about how dirty my floors are, but it gets the job done for the right price.
If you are a member of a studio, I highly recommend checking out their site or social media platforms for information on what they’re offering, including online or outdoor classes for as little as $5.00 or pay what you can. Many studios and teachers are struggling with a lack of income right now. Tragically, I’ll be on the hunt for a new studio because mine had to shut its doors permanently. I highly recommend supporting your local businesses through these endeavours to help them stay afloat.
Recently, my friend brought me to a class in the park taught by her favourite teacher. It was the first time I had done a group class in months, and you could feel the excitement around the circle from the lack of social interaction. We had a great time!
If you are interested in a more traditional style workout, there was a significant increase in at-home workout content being shared for free online. You can find many more exercises with limited equipment such as dumbbells and resistance bands, or with no equipment at all. A good thing due to the reality of the workout equipment shortage online.
This shift in workout content was the small silver lining for those without gym memberships. Fitness influencers have moved from creating gym-necessary workouts to making 100% home-friendly workouts for their viewers. Even though gyms are now reopening, you still have a large pool of these videos at your fingertips.
Personally, my favourite workout content creators are Whitney Simmons, Gabby Scheyen, and Sarah’s Day. They seriously stepped up their game on-at-home workout content and even filmed YouTube videos in real-time, so it feels like you are right there working out with them. They also have an extensive library of videos over the past 5+ years. Sarah has a workout ebook with strictly no equipment and is DEADLY if you are interested in investing in a plan. I would highly suggest checking out all these amazing women for free content and gymless workout inspiration.
My shift in perspective on living an active lifestyle has been one positive from this whole situation. I’ve learned now, more than ever, that I need activity in my life for my mental health and overall well-being. Staying active should be fun and exciting, not something that you dread at the end of the day. Hopefully, these ideas can inspire you to try a new physical activity and step out of the gym and your comfort zone this summer, all while staying safe and not breaking the bank.
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.