At times like these we know how important it is to keep active, though with limited access to the great outdoors it certainly is a little more challenging. To keep the energy flowing, we’re all having to be a little more creative with the space that we do have…
After running her inaugural Active Workshop live on our Instagram channel, we asked our resident movement coach and fitness instructor Charlotte Holmes for her thoughts on keeping active in mind and body while we’re all on lockdown.
What do you recommend for people looking to keep active at home?
So, I think that exercising and keeping active is really important right now. No matter where you are – whether you’re in London like me, or are lucky enough to be in the countryside or by the sea – being stuck inside is going to heighten your stress levels and exercise is a fantastic way to help that. It releases endorphins and there is a mountain of evidence showing that it helps with not only your physical health, but also your mental health.
In terms of keeping physically active there’s loads you can do in your home. Just by laying down a mat, you can transform your space and really focus in on your exercise. I teach on an app called FiiT and they have everything on there from yoga to strength training, breath work to cardio, dumbbells and kettlebells to resistance bands. You name it, they do it. And with a whole host of trainers, across different lengths of classes and varied levels. There really is something for everyone! There’s three in our house and we’ve been using the app to do 2-3 classes a day as a group. It’s great exercise and also a good way to break up your day.
There are also some great trainers you can follow online if you’re looking for inspiration or motivation. Strength training wise I’ve been working out with @soulsistersfitness via their Instagram - they have great daily workouts and are just tons of fun and you can easily follow along at home. I also really love the yoga classes that Chris Magee does on his Instagram channel @mageesy. It’s a strong practice that gets my heart rate up.
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi
How about the mental side of things? Is meditation something you practice at home?
There’s always been a bit of conflict between spiritual teachers and scientists about the ‘actual health benefits’ of meditation, but recently there has been more collaborative research and the conclusions are interesting. Again, going back to the situation we all find ourselves in, we’re all probably a little bit more stressed than normal, and the strongest link we have between meditation and overall health is its ability to reduce stress.
There are other benefits to meditation too. A recent study by Dr Judson Brewer, director of research at the Centre for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts, argued that “Mindfulness helps us bring a curious awareness to the actual experience of craving so that we are not caught up in it.” The study argued that with meditation we can “break the link between urge and action” and help control your cravings by 40% - probably something that’s useful for all of us right now to curb that comfort eating!
If, like me, you struggle with doing meditation for any period of time, there are other ways that you can achieve a meditative state. I’ve been really enjoying just going for a walk on my own – just me and my music, or listening in to the sounds around me. We’re actually really lucky that we can still go outside, and having that time is key. Moving, thinking and being alone. It’s normal to find it overwhelming to be around the same people all the time in lockdown (no matter how much we love them!) so taking time for yourself to be alone I think is really important.
How about your diet? Do you have any tips there?
Well, I’ve been cooking and getting really creative in the kitchen with my other half and our housemate. We have a blackboard on the wall and we write a menu from Monday to Friday that we change every week so we have something to look forward to eating or cooking. We take it in turns – it’s been a great way for the boys to switch off after they're WFH in the kitchen all day. Some days it’s a specific dish like Spaghetti Bolognese (vegetarian for me) or it could be a theme, like Scottish or Mexican night.
Lunches are usually a big salad with pulses and leaves, and then we’ll add something different each day; maybe tuna, or chicken the next day. I’m also being sent loads of recipes from friends – old fashioned recipe swaps! – so we’ve been getting inspiration from lots of places. I think it’s important not to be too hard on ourselves right now. Give yourself a break! Counting macros and calories, for me, is just something I’ve never been interested in – but even more so at a time like this. Try listening to what your body wants, needs, craves and desires. You can start to observe these things and understand how to satisfy and fuel your body, thats a really wonderful tool for life. Getting in a good mix of all the macro and micro nutrients including all the relevant minerals that your body needs to function across a period of time is essential. Here, we’ve allowed ourselves the occasional take-away at the weekends and the whole point of the blackboard is to make it fun and interesting.
A key thing to remember is, everybody is different. The amount of food your body needs is super dependant not only on your height, weight and age, but also on how much exercise you’re doing. Another thing to take into account is what your ‘goal’ may be (if any). Fuelling for a marathon looks very different to fuelling to sit and WFH all day. Perhaps you’re trying to gain muscle or reduce body fat - again these two diets will differ immensely. Getting expert advice is always recommended when looking to change your diet. Allergies and intolerances can come into play and diet can hugely effect your energy, mood, emotions and sleeping patterns.
Is there anything else that you’ve found has been helpful to keep yourself positive?
For me personally, another thing that seems to have really come into its own over these last few weeks has been writing my daily gratefulness list. It’s something I’ve done for over a year now. It’s really helping me to find the wonderful bits that are always around in my day-to-day, but that I probably miss most of the time. I simply write down up to five things I’m grateful for that day - it can literally be anything from the sun shining to face-timing your best friend.
I’ve been checking in with my 99 year old gran via phone calls and regular letter writing too, which has been such a joy. Crazy how much my hand aches from writing - a skill I haven’t practiced this much since school! It’s just fab to be able to hear Grans voice at the end of the phone during a time when I know she is so lonely. Keeping connected with people is really important right now, and through the technology we have, we can.
Words by Charlotte Holmes