I've Worked Out at Home For Years, and Even I'm Finding It Hard to Stay Motivated Right Now

Getty / Marko Geber

It’s not that I’m not working out right now – I am. But my motivation is way low. Why? Because I have a lot on my mind. Normally, exercise is my escape. It’s always been my escape – from homework, from toxic relationships, from life’s stressors – however, it’s hard for me to delve into workouts when I feel drained all of the time.

While I know there are people in the United States and around the world who are going through more difficult situations than mine amid the current coronavirus pandemic – some have lost loved ones, some have lost their jobs, and some have dealt with both – I’m speaking on behalf of my own journey. I have a long list to be grateful for: the roof over my head, the family I’ve been social distancing at home with, and my health. But I’ve been working out from home for years, and right now, even I am struggling.

After my decade-plus competitive gymnastics career came to a close, I learned how to utilize the internet, namely YouTube and workout apps, to exercise in my dorm room and, later, my off-campus house when I wasn’t going to the college gym. Once I graduated and moved back home, all I did (and still do) is work out there in lieu of getting a gym membership. I have cardio equipment in my basement (treadmill, elliptical, bikes, row machine, etc.) and a slew of different weights to choose from. It seems like the perfect scenario, especially when you’re working a 9-to-5 job and commuting long hours, right? And, when you’re stuck at home with all of this at your disposal, you’d think it would be easy to keep a normal workout routine.

Well, it’s not. Since college, I’ve maintained a schedule of doing sweat sessions, on average, four times per week. Lately, I’m lucky if I get in three days, and my workouts have gotten noticeably shorter. Whereas I normally work out for an hour or longer on a given day, now I do 20- or 30-minute chunks. Sure, there have been some weeks that are better than others, and trimming off one day or the total time off of my workouts might not seem like a huge deal to you, but to me, it is. Or at least it was at first.

Moving forward, I’m going to keep taking it one day at a time – one hour at a time, if I need to – because that’s all we can do, really.

It’s been a little over two months since I have hunkered down and worked from home full time. I feel burned out because of the nonstop feeling that I can’t unplug from my work responsibilities (You’re home, aren’t you? What’s one more hour?) and the anxiety over the novel coronavirus. Now, I’m starting to realize that if I can find the dedication to get in a sweat session, I should embrace that dedication. But if I physically am too drained, it’s OK to cut myself some slack, especially during this time. My mental health comes first, as it always should.

I’ve also learned that I’m not alone: other people are finding it hard to work out at home even if they have all the means to do so. That helps as well. Moving forward, I’m going to keep taking it one day at a time – one hour at a time, if I need to – because that’s all we can do, really. But here is what’s been helping me get in some movement to the best of my ability.

I stick with what works for my energy level on a given day. If that means doing shorter workouts or lifting weights while I watch Netflix, then so be it. It’s better than nothing.

I do workouts that I’ve always loved. Ever since I was introduced to Peloton in 2019, I’ve been a huge fan of the Peloton app. The live classes and on-demand sessions have been my go-to for almost a year, and I know I’ll get in a good sweat and feel stronger afterward. So when I’m up for a workout, I tend to choose those. They’re not easy by any means, but they’re easy to turn to.

I choose yoga flows over high intensity. When my energy is down and I still want to work out, I sometimes put on a yoga flow from the Yoga With Adriene YouTube channel, my favorite. This ensures I’m moving but in a way I can mentally handle. To me, it’s my form of meditation (though I want to start actual meditation, too), and it’s a good way to destress.

I walk when I can. Going on walks with my family or alone has helped clear my head, if only for a short while. Even if it’s for two quick laps around my neighborhood, moving my feet not only gets my heart rate up, but it also acts as a symbol of persistence for me. It proves to me that I can keep going. It’s an act of hope.

I will be the first one to admit that I’m nowhere near perfect at working out during this time. I would consider myself pretty well-versed in home workouts – and a fan of them over gym sessions – but this pandemic has humbled me into realizing that just when I think I can handle something, just when I think I’m a pro at staying flexible yet dedicated to my routine, I can be thrown off in an instant. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying, and that’s what matters most. Instead of asking myself, “How many days am I going to work out this week?” I’m beginning to ask, “How am I feeling today?” If you can relate to what I’ve written, I suggest you start doing the same.

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