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Exercise Motivation. Why "Back to School" may not be the answer to your exercise prayers.

School holidays are officially done and dusted, and there’s no home schooling in (near) site. You’ve made the mother of all To Do Lists; organising the junk drawer, reading a new novel, family meal planning and exercising regularly right at the top of the list. But does sending the children back to school answer all your exercise prayers….?

Despite well documented evidence advocating the benefits of exercise for physical and mental health, we discovered that mothers prioritise looking after the household over exercise. Now, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that routine activity may help protect people who get COVID-19 from becoming seriously ill.[1]

A survey of 1006 mums of children aged 0-6 years carried out by Opinium for Sport England found that;

  • Six in ten (61%) mums reveal they would feel guilty about taking time to exercise according, rather than spending time with their family.

  • Lack of time is the top reason mums stated for not being physically active, with almost a third (30%) reporting having less than an hour free time to themselves a day

  • 21% cited the cost of keeping fit was a key inhibitor to staying active.

Outside of work, mothers were most likely to prioritise:

  • Spending time with their families (56%)

  • Housework (53%)

  • Cooking (28%)

With all that in mind, what’s a mum to do? “Just schedule it in” doesn’t quite cut it.

1. Set an example

Mothers who are active play a key role in encouraging children to develop healthy attitudes towards physical activity and have a greater influence on their children’s activity levels compared to fathers. The availability of online On Demand fitness platforms and apps has surged exponentially so if getting to a gym or studio seems like an impossible feat working out at home might be the answer you need. It’s not ideal. I get it. I’ve taken classes online where my children think my transitions from downward dog to plank is a man made game of “London Bridge is Falling Down.” The flip side? You’re setting the best example possible for their current and future activity levels. It’s also an excellent opportunity to capture some pretty hilarious memories.

2. Be your best self

It should be common knowledge by now that exercise helps to improve your mental clarity, relieve stress and releases endorphins which in turn benefits everyone. Especially the family. However, the moment you give birth, the flood gates of guilt are open. It’s almost impossible to avoid. When I started out my journey with Barre, Harry was just over one year old and Karis was nearly four. Every night I would wait for Phil to come home from work so I could make it to the evening class and every night the guilt ate away at me. “I should be putting the children to bed,” “I should be tidying up the house”, “Dinner should be prepped and ready to cook.” But the moment I set foot in the studio all those thoughts instantly melted away and I would head home after the hour with a spring in my step. The children were still alive when I got home, the house hadn’t burnt down, and Phil hadn’t starved to death.

3. Choose an activity you actually like

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” Just because Karen says Zumba is the best workout known to man, doesn’t mean it’s the right workout you. If the thought of shaking your hips in a room full of strangers fills you with dread it’s pretty safe to say that Zumba is not the right workout for you. Sticking with it is as likely as our horse drinking the water you lead it to. Find a form of exercise captivates you and more importantly keeps you captivated.

4. Find an environment that supports you

Whether it be online or in person, seek out a platform or studio that allows you to feel comfortable no matter what stage of your fitness journey you’re at. It should cater to beginners, whether it be with a specific beginners class or with competent instructors that are able to modify the workout to suit different levels of ability. Humans have the inherent need to feel competent in what we do and avoid being the fool at all costs. Equally an environment that’s friendly, non-judgmental and welcomes new people with open arms feeds our need for relatedness.

5. Don’t go home

If you’re in charge of the school drop off don’t go home. We have purposely scheduled classes at 9:30 am classes so that busy mothers can use there time in the morning as efficiently as possible. If you’re booked into a class that’s a little bit later, find a spot to grab a coffee, just don’t go home!

For all our working mums out there aim to head straight to your class on the way home from work. The moment the front door opens, the sofa and a glass of wine becomes far more enticing than a workout. Cut out the middle man

6. Before embarking on my career as a fitness instructor, and I was looking after baby Harry and Karis then 3 years old, I would wait for Phil to get home from work so I could take and evening class. It was hard and we had to coordinate our schedules so that he left work on time, but he saw the instant mood and energy lift it provided me so we found a way to make it work (and it didn’t always work).

7. Find a solution that fits within your budget

Our £29 On Demand monthly membership works out to £2.80 roughly every week. If you do four workouts a week that comes to 70 pence per workout. Do the math and you may surprise yourself with what you can afford.

8. Don’t wait till you’ve lost weight, or have become more flexible…

because without exercise that day is likely never to come. Starting a new workout routine is hard. But being overweight or inflexible makes it even more important to start moving. Carrying excess weight puts you at higher risk for certain diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and depression.[1] A program of moderate exercise can help you to reduce your risk of disease. Weight loss, which may happen as a result of exercise, can also help to reduce your risk for disease.

More importantly, exercise can improve the way your body functions throughout the day. If your body feels better as you move through daily activities, your mood and your confidence level are likely to get a boost as well.[2]

9. Prepare for the future

From the moment we are born we are fighting a battle against gravity. Add COVID to the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for chronic pain caused by poor posture and movement patterns, and an overloaded medical system. Prevention really is the key.

10. Workout at work

It’s not ideal and you have to make sure you’re prepared, but carving time out of your work day to move is as important as your morning coffee. It could be some releve’s with a tennis ball between your heels whilst you’re on a conference call (calf and glute activation without breaking a sweat) or maybe some pelvic floor exercises when you’re sitting in a face to face meeting (yes, that’s a workout too!) If you do have a scheduled break, make sure you keep some toiletries, a towel and a change of clothes at work. Barre is the perfect no sweat workout.

The Barre Collective Workouts offer cost effective solutions to get you moving. Our On Demand Library provides unlimited access to over 600 hundred Barre, Ballet, Fusion, Just Stretch and Barre Technique Workouts. You can watch individual classes for just £5, join us on Live Stream from as little as £4 or In-Studio from £13.60. All our classes are modified to suit all levels of ability so you never feel left behind and we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. We make it our duty to introduce new clients to existing members and have watched friendships flourish in our little community.

[1] Sallis, Robert et al. Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients [2] Frey, Malia How to Start a Workout Routine If You're Overweight

What challenges and struggles are you facing that makes it difficult for you to workout and keep working out? Have you got any of your own tips that have worked for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below.

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