Is your body agile? Is the way you think agile?

During the pandemic, we have had to be agile and adaptable both with the way we live and our fitness. Nothing was the way it use to be and we were making things up, or as I like to say redesigning what and how we do things.
It felt like being in the design course that I took at Stanford.  We took a problem and designed our way to a solution by thinking differently.

When we first moved to our new home at the end of 2019, my husband Bill and I designed the configuration of the gym we wanted to build in our RV garage so I could offer 1:1 personal training sessions.  Our equipment included:

Picture in my gym. FitSpring exercise equipment, tredmill and dog
Beginning of the gym – That’s the FitSpring
  1. FitSprings
  2. Functional trainer
  3. Treadmill
  4. Stationary bike
  5. Multiple weights
  6. Chin up bar
  7. Smaller gym pieces (resistance bands, balls, penalty box trainer, mats, etc)
  8. Video screens and multiple mirrors on the wall
  9. Even a small beverage frig

We brought in 1000 pounds of gym flooring and laid it ourselves, 100 pound piece at a time.
The  flyers were made and the soft opening was scheduled for mid March 2020.  Then COVID locked us down. 

Design thinking: Plan B

Me sitting on a bench in front of the FitSpring.
Gym Ready to Go

OK, so  it was time to put Plan B into place, but I had no Plan B. Who would have anticipated this. That’s where  agility and adaptability has to take over.  I had to focus on what mattered most.  Figure out something, tweak it, then repeat the process. If I didn’t do that I would still be sitting in a chair almost 1 year later. 
So I took my fitness business online.  I had former clients, friends, and friends of friends join in. At first I offered it for free, but as the pandemic wore on I realized that was not a sustainable business model. I watched how others were adapting and marveled at their creativity and resilience and thought to myself, I can do it too.
Taking my fitness classes online was a bit rocky at first with zoom issues, seeing ceilings instead of people,  participants having no gym equipment to use, and more, but we made it work. I missed being able to offer adjustments to position or posture and learned to use verbal cues as my hands. That is not easy.

The lesson: use what you have and be creative

In class we used water bottles for weights, towels for stretching and resistance, buckets, brooms, you name it we used it. I began calling myself the frugal fitness trainer. Amazon and other vendors were swamped with people trying to order weights, treadmills, bikes, etc., so we were left with household items for quite some time.
There are three things that I thank 2020 for. It force me to:

Black and white image of me holding a bucket
  1. Innovate: The exercise programs had to be completely rewritten to be performed by clients that had no gym equipment, some had not used zoom before, and this was uncharted territory for us all.
  2. Adapt: Now almost a year into this, myself and my clients are beginning to get use to zoom classes, they even like working out in the comfort of their own home and not driving to a gym.
  3. Preserve: The biggest missing component is the camaraderie of beomg with people real time. Friends who met at the gym as a social activity saw each other in tiny boxes. But we endure that isolation and enjoy seeing those tiny little zoom boxes until we are pandemic free and can as they say on the plane, “move about the cabin freely.”

Your personal agility

File folders on the ground
Can you jump over these when the phone rings?

Just like many of us in business need to be agile (think of the restaurants that has spent so much money on outdoor heaters,  enclosures that allow for outdoor dining, take out options, etc. We need to be agile in our fitness, not only while we endure the restrictions the pandemic has placed on us, but also on what and how we move. 
It is a fact that during the pandemic we are moving less, eating and drinking more and for those in the northern hemisphere, we are in the middle of winter. Not a great recipe for movement, but we need to find a way to make lemonade from lemons.

What happens when we sit too much

1. We develop weak glutes

The old saying still holds true, use them or lose them! By sitting all day, you’re resting the strongest muscle in your body – your glute muscles. This leads to glute amnesia. Yes, that big muscle forgets how to hold you up and stabilize you. 

2. Hips back grow tight and stiff

As  with your leg and glute muscles, your hips and back will also suffer from  sitting. Prolonged sitting causes your hip flexors to shorten, and the seated  position can make your back stiff, particularly if you have bad posture or don’t use an ergonomic chair.

3. Varicose vein issues or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Sitting for long periods of time can cause the blood to pool in your legs and if you are prone to or have varicose veins there may be even more swelling and discomfort in your legs. You might even notice your ankles are swollen at night. In  rare cases, it can lead to more serious conditions, like blood clots or deep vein thrombosis. Of special note,  sitting for too long, even on a long road or plane trip, can cause DVT. Please wear support stockings if this is the case (yes, men too!). I wear them for long runs or recovering after a long run and the may you legs feel so much better.

4. Stiff shoulders and tech neck

As  with your legs, butt, and lower back, your shoulders and neck will also  suffer from prolonged sitting. This is especially true if you’re  hunched over  a computer, phone or iPad screen for a prolonged period of time.

Why should you care

Why is all of this important?  Many of us lost our flexibility and agility during the pandemic.  Now that we in the US are entering tax season, you may be pulling out files, papers, etc.  If you are like me or my client Ania, you have these on the floor for sorting.  The next thing you know, the phone rings and you jump up to get it and try to hop over the files.  BAM, down you go on the floor.  Why?  All that time sitting during the pandemic has left you stiff, your flexibility gone, and you ability to reach and be agile has LEFT THE BUILDING.

But Wait! It’s not too late

Wait, it’s not too late!  Let’s start slow  and get that agility back. Don’t let the pandemic get the better of you.

  1. If you are still sitting for prolonged periods of time, here are a few sitting tips:
    • set your clock or phone for an hourly stretch. Really stand up, reach your arms to the ceiling and take a deep breath.
    • uncross your legs when you are sitting at your desk (confession, mine were crossed while typing this)
    • sit up straight and look directly at your computer, don’t hunch. Besides it look icky (think Bernie with his mittens).
  2. Quick tips during the day to get your flexibility back
    • Lift your leg, knee bent and grab behind the leg with your hands and give a little tug upward. Feel that stretch?
    • Lift your leg, knee bent and rotate your leg to the side, repeat by lifting your leg (knees bent) to the side and bring the leg forward. Think of your legs stirring the cauldron.
    • Lateral lunges. I have my clients use a tape measure and step sideways to see how far they can go. Then we do it a few more times to see if we can go farther.
    • Squats. These are my favorites for any number of reasons. We have to squat down to do many of our daily activities like feeding the dog, pulling out laundry from a front end wash machine, and more. Instead of bending over and hurting your back. SQUAT and repeat.

Doing some of these agility and flexibility exercises will definitely help you hop over those files on the floor without falling, or step over that log if you are out for a hike. You might even find that you are better able to do things more fluidly in your daily life.
Let me know in the comments how you are staying agile.


Sandi Feaster