I am starting to notice that quarantine has phases. Or at least, it does for me. Phase one: the Denial Phase. Also known as the Excitement To Not Wear Pants phase. Then there was phase two: the Baking Phase—doesn’t it seem like everyone got into banana bread and babka and tahini cookies and sourdough and focaccia at the exact same time? Phase three was the DIY phase, which has left me with chunky highlights and a three-quarters-completed needlepoint pillow.
And now I guess I’m in phase four, the Workout Phase. Whew, I never thought I’d get here! In fact, through phases one, two, and three, I hadn’t broken walking pace except to chase my dog around the couch. What changed? Well, I just started copying everything Utibe, ITG’s Social Media Coordinator and resident workout enthusiast, was doing. I didn’t mean to make my coworker my workout buddy, but hearing such enthusiastic reviews each week eventually piqued my interest. And I’m surprised to report that, even though we bring different goals and skill levels to the table, all of her favorite methods work for me, too. As my anxiety levels continue to rise, it’s actually been nice to have a consistent routine of physical release. It all started with...
Utibe’s take: “Surprise, surprise––not so long ago, the idea of becoming a runner was beyond inconceivable to me. Pre-quarantine, I wasn't ashamed to ask my significant other, friends, and colleagues who run for fun, how??? But when I lost access to my gym, I realized I had to find other ways to work in some cardio or else become a jumbled mess of nerves. One Saturday morning, I decided to just suck it up and go for a run using this app. Over the 25-minute run, a virtual running buddy quite literally hyped me up. She explained what the run would entail, advised on form, and thankfully, mandated walking breaks for me to follow. As terrified of running as I was, I didn't realize how much I'd appreciate someone being 'present' the entire way through. Bonus: You're able to play your own music while doing the program, and it won't interfere with the virtual training.”
My take: On one of our daily team ITG check-in Zooms, Utibe recounted a weekend spent running with this app. And in 'the before,' I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I didn’t even think my body could run if I tried! The thing is, I was starting to miss the half hour I could listen to music, move, and not think about anything. And as Utibe talked about running, I suddenly had this lovely vision of returning to New York and being able to run all over it. I don’t know why the very specific fantasy of breezing past a big pile of summer heirloom tomatoes at the Union Square Farmers Market is the thing getting me through this workout, but it’s been two weeks and I’ve actually stayed consistent. It’s really not that bad. And the fact that you can play your own music is absolutely critical—I can only break a sweat to sexy shit.
Utibe’s take: “Chloe Ting is my workout messiah. I gave her 2-Week Abs video a shot in the optimistic first weeks of 2020, motivated by the mindblowing result videos all over YouTube. But what she makes look like a piece of bubbly, pigtailed fun is supremely hard when you first get started, especially if your core stamina, like mine, is pitiful. Each time I roll out my mat and tune into a workout, I do my best until I hear the three beeps Chloe uses to signal the end of a rep session (heaven to my ears). While she has many programs to choose from, more free time makes it easier to thoughtfully scroll through the videos and cherry-pick a few to fit my fitness goals. I’m looking to tone my lower abs and improve my core, so I mainly alternate between the 2-Week Abs video and a lower-abs video and then tie in a 20-minute cardio workout and full body stretch from time to time. Some mornings, I do the videos back-to-back, and sometimes I don't. But what's magical is that I'm sticking to it, and I've witnessed my body become more durable, and my abs get some real definition, in a little less than a month.”
My take: After liking the feeling I got from Runkeeper, I wanted more. So Utibe introduced me to Chloe Ting. I’m not sure which three beeps she’s referring to above, because I prefer to complete this workout like Batman—alone. I put Chloe on mute (sorry, Chloe) and let Dua Lipa and visual cues coach me through. There's a countdown for each exercise, and a little icon demonstrating the next exercise pops up when you’ve only got 5 seconds to go. There's also a loading bar showing how much you’ve completed, which is perfect for those who approach even the shortest workout with the impatience of a child on a very long drive. I’ve been sticking to the 26-day “Hourglass Challenge,” following Chloe’s schedule and doing the day’s videos back-to-back. After only a week I’m suddenly firm in places I’ve never been firm before?? But I don’t know if I love how results-focused this workout is—the challenge titles make it easy to get into patterns of negative self-talk or extremism. I'm trying to remind myself that these workouts are just about staying consistent, and it seems to be working.
Yoga With Adriene
Utibe’s take: “After a being a good lil' fitness person and completing an ab and/or cardio workout for the day, doing a session of Yoga With Adriene is the remedy I end with. Adriene knows precisely what the heck she's doing when creating a zen atmosphere. She has a suite of videos for every possible bodily and emotional need, from Yoga for the Lower Back to Yoga for Respect or a Confidence Boost. (Nope, not kidding.) Each session doubles as a meditation with gradual movements and pauses for reflection. But the results-oriented part of me also appreciates the tension I feel when I'm instructed to stay in a pose that makes me quake, challenging the ways I think my body can move. It's a perfect complement to the core work I'm already focusing on, and a mindful way to ease out of workouts and into the rest of my day.”
My take: Working out for a week straight had me begging Utibe for a little reprieve—was there anything else she could recommend to help my newly-sore muscles and tight-as-a-drum hamstrings? I should have known she’d come back at me with yoga, an activity I hate! Yoga is another core workout masquerading as meditation—just planks, but slower. However, I was intrigued by Yoga with Adriene’s “Yoga for Nurture” playlist, thinking (hoping?) she'd ask me to sit in Child’s Pose for a long time before playing me out with a little Savasana. Not the case! But, without too many complicated flows or crazy positions my body won’t pretzel into, I could push myself through. Am I going to do it every day? No. But can I manage working it in on Saturday nights, with my mat rolled out in the backyard, the humidity and setting sun approximating a dimly-lit hot yoga class? Sure. Why not. It’s just 15 minutes.
Photo via ITG