How to Stay Fit and Healthy (Even While Social Distancing)

2020 is weird a time — and I’m certainly not the first to say it, nor will I be the last.

Honestly, if someone had travelled back in time and told a 2015 version of me (preferably over a glass of Pinot Noir) what was waiting for us 5 years down the road — the world’s fascination with Tiger King, included — I probably would have encouraged them to pursue a career in television. Because, in theory, those circumstances would make interesting TV.

But as it turns out, this is real life. And it feels more and more real, in a simultaneously jarring but also ‘I’ve already re-watched Love Is Blind, The Office and Friends on Netflix’ sort of way, with each passing day. Not that we know what day it is lately, but I digress.

Now, viral memes and the mourning of our social calendars aside, it’s important to recognize that COVID-19 affects all of us. No one is exempt from this experience, and while we face no shortage of uncertainty across our communities right now, we should all take comfort in the understanding that this too shall pass.

Our new normal, which consists of far less face-to-face time and far more Facetime (if you catch my drift) is temporary. The economy will bounce back, we will see our friends again (beyond the confines of a phone screen), our favourite businesses will re-open and our daily screen time reports will (eventually) stop feeling like a personal attack. If anything, we will likely return to daily life after this pandemic with a renewed appreciation for all that we once took for granted. It might feel like an extreme way to have things shifted into perspective, but it’s valuable nonetheless.

So, in the meantime, how do we get through this with our minds and bodies intact, healthy, and happy? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I have some suggestions for you…

Mindset Check

Last week was, admittedly, a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. As someone who has worked from home (with the exception of teaching fitness classes) for the past 5 years, I figured I was pretty much made for this quarantine thing. But on more than one occasion, I found myself staring at my laptop crying as I gave in to the same feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and imminent fear of unemployment that many of my peers were simultaneously coping with. And so, we arrive at my first suggestion: the mindset check.

‘Quarantine’ protocols may not be anyone’s idea of a great time (except for maybe the introverts among us), but this shouldn’t be treated as a ‘misery loves company’ type of scenario. Things are weird right now, and undeniably scary, but running through a daily roll-call of negative conclusions surely won’t do you any long-term good. Why? Because there is plenty to be grateful for right now. More often than not, it’s simply a matter of focusing on what we can do, rather than what we can’t do. And right now, a roof over your head, food in the fridge, and the assurance that the world (at large) will figure this out in time is a pretty good place to start.

Remember all those things you say you don’t have enough time for? Well, whatever that is, (re-connecting with friends virtually, fitness, sleeping, creative projects, a deep clean of your house) you officially have the time. And don’t we always ask for more time? Now, that’s not to say this period of isolation (however long it lasts) has to be dedicated to productive tasks, life-altering creativity, or some sort of a physical transformation. This time is whatever you make it (in a social distancing sense, obviously) and that (in some redeeming way) can be exciting for each of us.

So take a second and check-in with yourself. There is no right or wrong answer here, no prescribed way of feeling during unprecedented times. As I tell my members often at the end of a class, take what you need. No one else can tell you what this is, it’s up to you to feel that out.

Now, if you’re like me and the concept of ‘un-plugging’ is entirely foreign because you’re used to going a thousand miles an hour, there are tools and resources available to you. For online therapy options, check out Beacon (digital therapy that’s personalized and guided by a registered mental health professional). If you simply require some help with guided meditation, Hoame Meditation is offering some of their signature classes weekly on IG Live. Apps like Headspace, Calm, and Zenboks are also a great resource for guided meditation, daily mindfulness practice, and even self-development.

To simply stay connected with friends and loved ones, download Zoom (the free version allows for 45-minute video calls) or House Party for some virtual face time. Did I mention that Cards Against Humanity is now available to play online with friends?

Fitness at Home

Listen, I love the gym. As in, I love being at the gym. My home is more of a ‘chill out and write’ kind of a vibe, rather than a ‘let’s get sweaty and piss off the neighbors’ kind of vibe. That being said, desperate times call for desperate measures, and if my failure to properly install a doorframe pull-up bar results in me going viral, well, so be it.

For many of us, the ability to continue the workouts and routines we know and love will provide an integral mental escape and a much-needed dose of endorphins during this time. So, the question becomes: how can we continue to invest in our fitness and health from the (400-600 square foot) confines of our Toronto apartment without breaking the bank or taking up parkour?

Fortunately, the fitness community has shown up for us in this time of need. Across the city, gyms and trainers are renting out equipment, going ‘live’ with free at-home workouts, offering personalized programming based on the equipment you have, or offering interactive Zoom workout classes for a small fee. 6IX Cycle Spin Studio in West Queen West even rented out and delivered their spin bikes to community members to bring the classes they love to their living room (literally).

Even if you don’t want to adhere to any set class schedule or training plan, maybe challenge yourself to participate in some form of “morning movement”, whether that’s chilling in child’s pose or committing to 100 push-ups or sit-ups per day…

Local Studios Currently Offering IG Live Classes, Zoom Classes, or Free Workouts:

– 6IX Cycle Spin Studio (HIIT, Spin, Friday Yoga)
– APEX Training Center (Strength Training)
– Academy of Lions (Strength Training)
– FitSquad (Strength Training, as well as Kettlebell/Steel Mace/Animal Flow)
– Fit Factory (HIIT, Military-Style Bodyweight Training)
– Fuel Training Club (Strength Training)
– Barry’s Bootcamp (HIIT)
– PHNX Fithouse (HIIT, Strength Training)
– United Boxing Club (HIIT, Boxing)
– Sweat and Tonic (HIIT, Boxing, Yoga, Meditation)
– Lift Corktown (Strength Training)
– UNDRCARD Boxing (HIIT, Boxing)
– BOLO (HIIT, Boxing)
– Drop Boxing (HIIT, Boxing)
– Flyt Club (HIIT, Boxing, Strength Training)
– Unchained Athletics (HIIT, Boxing, Mobility, Yoga)
– Atlantic Avenue Athletic Club (Strength Training)
– Misfit Studio (Pilates, Movement)

Local Trainers Currently Offering IG Live Workouts, Zoom Classes, or Online Programming:

– Alena Luciani (Training 2XL) @training2xl
– Brian Rothwell @streetbred
– David Yarema @strengthcollectivetoronto
– Dominic Gabriel @buffbreezy
– Beverley Cheng @beverleycheng
– Katie Crewe @katiecrewe
– Cassie Day (All Day Fit)
– Wall Street Collective
– Clancy Jarvie @clancybudiakjarvie
– Torrie Borland @torriebfit
– Kelsey Rose @thekelseyrose
– Odeta Kasa @odetakasa

Those are two impressive lists if you ask me, and they still don’t cover all the studios/trainers currently offering amazing resources to their community at this time. Whatever your preferred workout style, there is something here for you — I would bet a roll of toilet paper on it…

Quarantine Nutrition

Oh, you expect me to stay in my house all day and not eat every 5 minutes? Interesting…

Okay, all jokes aside, let me preface this by saying that when it comes to quarantine, however you choose to spend this time at home is entirely up to your creation. There is no shame to be interpreted in posts or suggestions aimed at encouraging healthy habits. These resources are simply provided for those who wish to utilize them but, ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to do this. We are in uncharted territory, remember?

That being said, a healthy immune system = a happy quarantine, so for those of you hoping to utilize this extra time in your kitchen by trying out some new, healthy recipes — you’re in luck. Similar to the fitness community, food bloggers have answered our plea with plenty of nutritious recipes, tips, and tricks.

Great Accounts to Check-Out for Recipes, Advice, and Expertise:

– Alena Luciani @training2XL (so nice I listed her twice, a go-to source for workouts and delicious, healthy recipes)
– Lau’s Healthy Life @laus_healthy_life (gluten-free, healthy foods with a whole foods focus)
– BOSH! By Henry & Ian (tasty vegan recipes)
– Caroline Candace @carolinetusiuk (recipes and all things gut + hormone health)
– Rachael DeVaux @rachaelsgoodeats (registered dietitian and NASM trainer)
– Maddison Summer @maddison.summer (wholefood recipes and meal planning)
– Brooke Enchin @brookeenchin (holistic nutritionist)
– Liv @keepupwithliv (natural health and eating expert)

For anyone hoping to source high-quality food without making a trip to the grocery store, consider options like TruLocal (quality meats delivered to your door), Hello Fresh (fresh meal kits), BioRaw (organic, gluten-free, nut-free meals), and Fresh City Farms (local, organic produce bags & meals). Looking for some nutrient-dense bone broth? Ripe Nutrition is offering home delivery of their signature broths and organic cold-pressed juices across the downtown core.

Nutbar has also recently posted the recipe for their famous ginger bomb to Instagram, while accounts like @TasteToronto are posting the recipes of some of our favourite meals from local restaurants. I’m talking everything from Momofuku’s trademark Milk Bar Birthday Layer Cake to Piano Piano’s Rigatoni Carbonara. Yeah, if you need me, I’ll be eating until further notice…

Hang in there, ya’ll. Be patient with yourself, kind to others, and remember… these circumstances are temporary. Until then, we have Tik Tok, Tiger King, and plenty of at-home/virtual activities to keep us busy and healthy.