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Post lockdown: Food for thought

Julien Bertherat, Personal Trainer.

During the recent lockdown, we all had to step back from our normal routines and take a forced break from everything that was familiar to us.

As a general rule, we never take enough time to sit down and reflect on our lifestyle, so perhaps on one level, this was not such a bad thing. So, in this regard, does what we are doing, for instance, make us happy? Am I tired of being tired, and do I feel this way most of the time? Do I need to change something (or perhaps everything) in my life? Or do I need to feel more down to earth?

These are some of the questions many of us face regularly, but usually do not address outside of a crisis such as we have recently experienced.

It has been widely proved that exercising regularly helps us to reduce our anxiety and balance-out fatigue. So when we went into lockdown, it obviously had an immediate impact on our lives and how we exercise. What I learned, for example, during this time was that, no matter what, we needed to find a solution to the challenges we were facing and adapt ourselves to our new and changing environment (and possibly quickly, in order not to find ourselves in an existential dead-end).

When the gyms were forced to shut, the whole fitness industry had to find a way to adapt and reinvent itself. Trainers, therapists, gym members and others found themselves facing this same issue. We also observed a myriad of different reactions on the part of people in the fitness sector as they faced this challenge, with some literally closing down their business, unable to find an alternative to the situation they or their clients faced. Others went online to provide a digital, interactive service, while some decided to exercise in parks when it was possible to do so, using different kinds of equipment, such as resistance bands.

It is important to retain such good learning experiences as we move out of lockdown.

When I started in the gym in my early twenties, I thought the gym was the only place to workout. I also thought that bench-pressing with a free bar was the best exercise to develop my chest muscles. However, I changed my mind over the last decade (on both fronts) and evolved throughout my personal training career to realise that there are many ways to train.

The past four months have been a great challenge for me and my business training clients.

The outdoor type of workout that I adopted during this period required me to be more creative and more dedicated to my work. In the past, I would often see people in the gym getting lost between machines (possibly down to the old adage that, “necessity delivers us from the hindrance of having to choose”). Our basic instinct makes us walk when we are outside, for example, and when walking is not enough to reduce our stress, we are likely to run. I like this fluid and natural approach to exercising because it comes from necessity and is not dictated by the opinion of others.

There are no mirrors outside to influence our behaviour when we exercise, which in our visual society can be a relief, frankly.

Not everyone followed me into the parks to exercise during the lockdown, but a good portion of my clients did and I am proud to say that together we achieved a great deal during this period exercising together outdoors. For me, this period was also about more than providing a service to people. It had more meaning and was more rewarding than that.

I am looking forward to going back to the gym. However, I will also not forget what I learned when I was training outside during lockdown. Beyond the new forms of exercise I undertook during this period using different equipment, I also grew my confidence and understanding of what physical training is about.

I came to understand that exercise is a tool that can help us look to the future with a strong and positive mindset, whatever life throws at us.


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