Holy CrossFit: connecting through fitness during the pandemic

by Arhana Aatresh | May 19, 2020

Photo by Arhana Aatresh (’23)

Due to the current shelter-in-place order, many people are scrambling to find new sources of exercise. Sports teams are unable to meet, while visits to the gym risk everyone’s health. From high schoolers to professional athletes, people everywhere have had to adapt to stay fit in the safety of their own homes and neighborhoods. Because normal daily movement, such as walking in malls or biking to work, is restricted, staying active is more important than ever. Additionally, exercise relieves added stress that people may be feeling in these chaotic and uncertain times.

Public health advisories have left people with many questions regarding the do’s and don’ts of safely exercising outdoors. While the use of face masks is strongly recommended while outdoors, medical experts agree that face masks can cause respiratory issues during exercise. The safest way to exercise outdoors is to maintain social distancing, avoid contact with all surfaces, and wash your hands post-workout. In order to stay healthy, Fazal Mittu (’23) runs in his neighborhood regularly in adherence to the aforementioned guidelines. Due to such unclear regulations, many people have found exercising at home to be more convenient, following Youtube videos, using stationary bikes, creating yoga routines, and learning dances.

Many families are quarantined inside together, so naturally, tensions sometimes run high. Exercise has been proven to improve one’s mood and relieve anxiety. It also gives people a goal to work towards, occupying the body and mind. When they are not learning, Lancers have been exercising to pass the time and achieve goals they previously may not have had time for. For instance, Marta Dukic (’23) found YouTuber Chloe Ting’s two-week shred challenge useful and subsequently developed her own exercise routine based on the challenge, which she shared with enthusiastic friends. She also skateboards for fresh air.

Although home and neighborhood workouts cannot recreate the feeling of playing on a team or taking a SoulCycle class with friends, people are finding innovative new ways to connect. Social disconnectedness has been proven to trigger immune responses associated with depression. Ironically, physical health currently depends on our adherence to social distancing, while mental health depends on our emotional connection.

To combat this problem, people are virtually connecting to stay socially engaged. Many Saint Francis sports teams hold Zoom calls to reconnect with teammates and share exercise inspiration. Additionally, the teams create fun videos to engage the Lancer community. Many have also been motivated by the virtual connection offered by workouts such as Peloton classes. Zoom workouts with friends have become daily staples for some students, and many Lancers also shared their workout routines with friends.

As Agustín Fuentes, University of Notre Dame anthropologist, reflects, “We’ve adapted to survive. [P]eople will… come up with incredibly imaginative ways to find connections even when they’re not in the same physical space together.” During the pandemic, people have rediscovered the importance of human connection and are doing whatever they can to simulate this feeling through exercise, a common activity. The necessity of exercise has extended past maintaining fitness for a potential fall athletic season. It has become an inevitable and popular method of connecting and engaging, providing comfort in an unstable period.

Despite many obstacles. Lancers have found creative ways to stay fit and healthy during shelter-in-place. Sabrina Vidal (’21) follows workouts on YouTube and also practices yoga for mindfulness. Additionally, sophomore Clarissa Chen takes frequent walks and does her physical therapy stretches daily. It appears that even during the pandemic, Lancers will continue to persist and inspire others to set routines, stay fit, and connect with others.

Categories: Features

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