By Dimithri Wijesinghe
The importance of staying physically active during prolonged periods of time at home due to the pandemic has even been stressed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or a combination of both, be followed per week.
The WHO has provided that physical activity and relaxation techniques can be valuable tools to help you remain calm and protect your health during this time. The WHO shared a number of tips to follow, also adding that the recommendations can be achieved even at home within limited space and with no special equipment.
In Sri Lanka, we have also witnessed an interesting turn of events where a large majority of the public who are privileged enough to have minimum concerns with regard to survival are adopting regular fitness routines to stay active as opposed to just lazing around and refusing to get out of bed.
Catering to this interest is online fitness content, particularly in the form of fitness content creators and fitness-related influencers who have chosen to share their own personal workouts with their audiences, with some even having created communities tuning in to exercise together.
We spoke to some such fitness content creators who are garnering widespread attention online for their content, about the feedback they’ve received, and their thoughts on this new interest in staying fit and how they think it’s best to go about it.
You can do it from home
We spoke to Tymeron Huban Carvalho, better known as Tymo, who shared that while he isn’t a fitness instructor, he is an enthusiast. Prior to the curfew, he had regularly attended the gym and worked out often.
Tymo has a major online presence and his audience is a mixed bag of fitness enthusiasts and those interested in fashion/modelling-related content. He shared that he has always shared and updated his fitness journey online and has also continued to do so during the curfew.
“When curfew was imposed, I put some thought into what I could do on my own without any of the usual equipment I use. With things like weightlifting; even though I do not have access to those weights, I have been doing what I can with various household equipment like water bottles and five-litre cans as weights, etc.”
He also shared that he has had many people reach out to him asking for advice on how to lose weight and how to do home workouts. The best advice he said he could give is to dedicate at least an hour of your day to do some physical activity. There is a lot you could do at home; you could do some easy squats, various weightless workouts, jumping jacks, etc., he said.
“I’ve had some people who were watching my home workout content messaging me and telling me that I will not lose my muscle just because I do not go to the gym or because I do not work for a few weeks, but that is not the point of maintaining a disciplined schedule.”
Focus on strengthening your weaknesses
Dhanushka Kodikara, a professional fitness instructor who has also documented his fitness journey, shared similar thoughts, adding that he has communicated with a lot of fitness enthusiasts, gym buffs, and even those who workout regularly, and that he was glad to see that they have not used this curfew as an excuse to weaken their discipline and routine. He said that consistency is most important.
“It’s been interesting to see how they have adapted their workouts to suit whatever resources they have at home, like lifting water bottles, buckets, etc.; they are working around the situation,” he said.
Dhanushka, who is used to working out using weights and powerlifting, shared that even though he doesn’t have access to that type of equipment right now, he has also decided not to let it limit him because “we can choose to use this time to strengthen those areas that are not our fortes”.
Tymo also added to this idea of focusing on strengthening those areas you wouldn’t otherwise focus on. “Since I’ve been home, I have decided to use this time to detox from my regular protein shake that I would otherwise take when going to the gym. What’s happened now is that I have maintained my muscle but I have burned off all of the fat,” he shared.
He also shared that while working out is great, you must also pay attention to what you eat. “A large portion of this depends on how you do things in your kitchen. I usually prefer to consume very little carbs, but at least twice a week, you must have some or you will collapse,” he pointed out.
Tymo also said that the best he could do is share his own regiment and what he does, which suits his body, but he couldn’t possibly give out tailored advice to suit one’s specific needs. However, he mentioned that there are plenty of instructors who do that, so people could simply reach out to them for such advice.
Be consistent, be disciplined
When speaking to these fitness content creators, a common point that popped up is “consistency”.
In this regard, we spoke to Tarja de Silva, who has been conducting daily workout sessions with her husband Alberto without fail, and a large community has built up around their live streams.
Tarja shared that they have received a lot of feedback online from those trying to work out at home and looking for some motivation to their usual clients with regard to their 10.30 a.m. sessions.
“The workout sessions that we now do daily have really helped create a community and has also allowed us to slip into a natural schedule and maintain order. It has been extremely beneficial in keeping up a routine; actually, this past weekend, we sort of chilled and took it easy and I honestly felt lazy – like we were not doing anything – because we have adapted to that disciplined schedule after doing it all this time, and I am fitter and stronger than I ever was before all of this,” she said.
She said that maintaining a routine is a great idea to establish some semblance of structure; it doesn’t have to be exercise, but something that engages you. However, you should do it regularly as staying fit is proven to be helpful for your mental health and overall relaxation, she shared.
Give your mind some attention
Mental health has also been an important discussion during these extraordinary times, particularly those who struggle with relaxing and have anxiety.
We spoke to Rangi Fernando of Sync & Move studio, who has also been conducting live sessions of freestyle movement for her online audience.
“I wouldn’t categorise what we do as fitness. Primarily, it’s activity that helps the mind and body achieve relaxation,” she said, adding that at first, however, she was somewhat hesitant to do online classes, “mostly because I believe that these things are best done in person when you can bounce off the vibe of the room, and instructors will often improvise during the classes and also take a close look at the attendees’ form and how they are doing”.
“But of course, this is simply not possible during these times so I have decided to do some online classes,” she said.
She also shared that while at first there was also a difficulty in justifying the effort she would put into it versus a free-of-charge session, the feedback she received has been amazing and knowing that it is helping people has motivated her to keep going.
Most importantly, she said she feels that now is a great time to focus on doing the things you wouldn’t otherwise do during your busy schedule on a regular day. “It is very easy to fall into that trap of staying in bed all day long and not getting motivated but really, in getting fit, half the battle is won when you show up. So once you train yourself to stick to a schedule of getting up, then getting active is simple,” she said.