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Exercise, be grateful, reach out to OTF family: Carrying COVID-19's quarantine lessons forward

By Leslie Baker Garcia
10 Minutes

So here we are on Day 2,781 (or maybe it just feels that way) of sheltering at home, of not being in an Orangetheory Fitness studio, of looking at life in a way we never thought we’d be looking at it.

It’s hard. It’s easy. We’re upbeat. We’re worried. We miss people. We like being alone. We’re eating junk. We’re cooking healthy dinners. We’re working out more. We can’t muster the oomph to exercise.

Sound like you? Sounds like everyone, quite honestly. Nothing is as it used to be. And while Orangetheory studios and other businesses are opening up a bit, everyone’s “normal” has undergone a major, life-altering shift. Which, let’s hasten to add, isn’t any more a bad thing than it is a good thing. This is just the way things are — for members, for coaches, for staff, for the whole world.

Thus, what matters isn’t so much the unwanted invitation we all received to this pandemic. What does matter are the takeaways from this crazy time. How can we glean a bit of good, a freshness, a resolve that will help us today, tomorrow, and well into the future?

Let’s start with these tips to kick off our new normal, a supplement to the ongoing OTF message: More Life.

Exercise.

You know that one, of course. It helped improve your life long before your OTF studio shut its doors in March to protect you and the team working there. Whether you’re accumulating Splat Points in your beloved studio again or still working up a sweat at home, when you exercise, your mind is on the here and now. And when you get right down to it, what do we have but this very moment?

So start (or keep) moving. If you’ve yet to venture out or you want to supplement your Orangetheory studio time, try OTF’s Orangetheory At Home™ workouts, Some challenges can be done in 10 minutes; longer workouts range from 30 to 45.

Exercise provides a powerhouse of positives: Lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, stress and anxiety. Helping prevent a plethora of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer. Serving to improve memory and thinking skills. Fighting depression. Managing weight.[LH1]

Health benefits increase when you work out with others — which, as part of an Orangetheory tribe, you are well aware. That explains why, the day after Letty Daniels’ OTF studio in Rockwall, Tex., closed, she felt lost. She woke up thinking, “What am I going to do now? I need guidance from my coaches!”

“That,” she says, “is when images of their faces popped into my head and said, ‘Get up off that couch and let’s go!’”

So she jumped on her treadmill and channeled her Orangetheory workouts. Then, as Texas spring days beckoned, she began walking outdoors. (Nature, by the way, offers its own set of benefits for our physical and mental health.)

Letty then logged into Zoom classes, which offered the familiarity of her own studio and of classmates who had become friends.

“It’s as if we are there with each other working out together,” Letty says. “I am so grateful.”

Which brings about another way of dealing with the quarantine:

Express gratitude.

As Coach Fred of Farmington Hills, Mich., told OTF members in a Facebook video:  “Take a break from the news. Spend quality family time. Think about the good things we have in life.”

Try writing down even one thing you’re grateful for: Maybe spotting a hummingbird at your feeder, or having more time to play hopscotch with your kids. The more you pay attention to life’s affirmations, the more you’ll notice. It’s a wonderful habit to get into, one that’s likely to stay with you.

Do you especially appreciate the clerk at your grocery store, the nurse who lives down the street, the coaches who have kept in touch despite their own struggles and uncertainties? Tell them. It will make your day as much as it will theirs. “Thank you” are two words powerful in their simplicity. Smiling is sweetly strong, too.

“Having positive emotions doesn’t mean negativity isn’t there,” as Dorsey Standish of Mastermind Meditation in Dallas told The Dallas Morning News, “but being positive allows us to move through trauma with a little more grace and balance.”

Reach out.

Your Orangetheory family — as well as high school friends, former neighbors, relatives — would love hearing from you. Maybe call or text one person every other day. Keep the latte dates but instead of coffee shops move them to video chats in the comfort of your home. By the time class starts up again, which could be really soon if it hasn’t already, that connection during tough times will be one more bond you share. And if you’ve made this a habit, you’ll want to keep connecting.

Breathe.

Try this: Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose to the count of four. Hold for a second or two, then exhale through your nose to a count of four. Try that a few times and you’ll feel calmer and more ready to face whatever comes your way. You can do it anywhere, any time (keeping your eyes open unless you’re on your couch or in the hammock).

Tweak it a bit if you can’t sleep: As you inhale, focus on a positive word with which you want to fill up. Then exhale, breathing out what you no longer need: Breathe in courage; breathe out fear. Breathe in hope; breathe out despair. Try 10 breaths, and if you’re not asleep, you’ll definitely feel more relaxed and renewed.

“Every time we breathe,” Dorsey says, “we get a chance to start again, to take a deeper breath,” she says. “That’s what resilience is. It’s like a pop-up clown at a carnival. You punch it down, and it comes back up”

About the Author

Leslie Barker has written about and lived her passion – health and fitness – for decades, most recently as senior writer for The Dallas Morning News. Her essays, tips and ways to find joy in even the simplest of circumstances have inspired couch potatoes to start moving as well as more experienced exercisers to keep moving.