Before quarantine, many of us had a solid sense of structure around our workout routines. Whether it involved going to the gym, hitting the yoga studio, or taking barre or HIIT classes regularly, we were used to a distraction-free hour every few days or so when we could just be with our bodies, moving, breathing, and getting stronger.
But in an era when being close to another human being poses a health threat, group fitness classes aren't exactly an option. Instead, we're left streaming our favorite classes from our (often tiny) homes, where there are distractions everywhere: dust under the dresser and email inboxes just a click away from where we're streaming.
Though the classes I'm streaming are similar to the ones I once took in person, I get so distracted I often feel like I didn't get a workout in at all. I chatted with three fitness experts to find some version of a solution until we can (hopefully!) all be in class together again. Here's what they had to say.
Create a Special Ritual Around Your Practice
When you walk into a yoga studio, there's a ritual about it: You take off your shoes, unroll your mat, and your phone and other devices are very far away from you — probably in another room. Chloe Kernaghan, co-founder of Sky Ting Yoga, suggests creating a similar ritual in your home.
"Even if it's something simple, like moving a piece of furniture or lighting a candle, I think creating a ritual that can act as a portal into the practice is useful," she says.
Another thing that can help? Connecting your computer to a louder sound system, or even practicing with wireless headphones in. "Sound is a great tool to stay in present moment, and if your teacher's voice is a little more grand in your space, it might help hook your attention," says Kernaghan. "And if those notifications and distractions keep calling you away? Sometimes you have to give yourself some tough love. I ask myself regularly, 'will responding to this notification save the world or make me feel any better?' The answer is always no. Things can wait."
Meet the Expert
Chloe Kernaghan is the co-founder of Sky Ting Yoga in New York City. She completed her first training and has continued studies with Nevine Michaan and Abbie Galvin at Katonah Yoga, and Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee at Yoga Shanti.
Block Off Time
When you commit to a workout class, you're blocking off that time to work out and do absolutely nothing else. According to fitness expert Jen Selter, the same needs to be true of your at-home workouts.
"The first thing I do before an at home workout is block off the time frame I will be dedicating to working out beforehand," she says. "I try to keep it consistent, because consistency is key for results and leaves me feeling the best version of myself. Having my workout built into my day also curbs my mind from worrying about other tasks I need to complete."
She notes that turning off notifications and silencing your phone can help, but she makes an important point: If you're constantly dreading and getting distracted during a specific type of at-home workout, it might simply be time to switch gears. "Spend some time finding a workout that’s fun and engaging for you and you’ll more motivated to get that sweat."
Resolve to Finish Your Workout
For me, the biggest problem with at-home workouts isn't starting them, but finishing them, and I know I'm not alone in that. Which is why committing to finishing your at-home workout can be just as important as committing to starting. "Every day, I make a disciplined promise to myself to follow along (and finish!) a full workout from my program, regardless of how long it might take me," says Sean Alexander, co-founder of Model Trainers.
Alexander adds that if you mimic your normal workout routine as closely as possible, it can help. "I put my headphones in and crank up the volume to my favorite workout playlist, and I even chew the same gum during my home-workouts that I normally chew at the gym. It’s a nice little way to put myself 'in the zone,'" he says. "I also ordered some very basic at-home workout equipment such as a jump rope, various resistance bands, and dumbbells, which have helped to keep me working hard."