Keeping fit while staying at home

Aziz Idris

By now, 2020 has brought some unprecedented challenges, and for most of us, life has changed in some way for the foreseeable future with the coronavirus pandemic. One such change brought about by COVID-19 is that we are staying indoors.

The phenomena of ‘working from home’ and ‘virtual learning’ are now the new norm and with gyms closed and events cancelled, many of us are also exercising from home, indefinitely.

Just because our favourite gyms are closed doesn’t mean you have to miss your workout.

Staying at home tends to mean eating more and also equates to less moving for many of us, but you still have to stay motivated and the best way is to exercise.

Exercise is vital for our mental and physical health, and is arguably more important than ever during social distancing or self-isolation.

Part-time fitness instructor Maria Taha has actively engaged with her clients on ways to stay fit using social media platforms. PHOTOS: AZIZ IDRIS
When you don’t have weights or equipment, you can use water bottles or pillows as weights and furniture such as couches or chairs as benches for exercises such as tricep dips, decline push-ups and step-ups, said Maria Taha

Even the government, through the Ministry of Health, doesn’t stop activity altogether. It’s possible to use this time to get fitter and stronger than ever, albeit while adapting your workout so that it can be done from home.

Part-time fitness instructor, Maria Taha has actively engaged with her clients on ways to stay fit using social media platforms such as Instagram.

Maria, 26, is a full-time physiologist and has acquired several fitness certifications mostly from the United Kingdom (UK) – where she used to study as a physiologist – in various disciplines including Lagree.

Her workouts also caught the attention of members of the public who are staying home and looking to stay fit.

“I try my best to provide some workout routines through my social media handle and post workout videos they can follow and do at home,” explained Maria.

Unlike Chris Hemsworth, most of us don’t have a private workout studio at home, but it is still possible to carve out a dedicated exercise space – even if it’s small.

“Allocate a space at your residence where you have room to perform some bodyweight exercises, put in some home equipment or have a good stretch. When you don’t have weights or equipment, you have to get creative with ways to train at home. Using water bottles or pillows as weights and furnitures such as couches or chairs can be used as benches for exercises such as tricep dips, decline push-ups and step-ups,” she said.

Other methods include stepping outside the house and into the garden to get fresh air for about 20 minutes as this will help break the day up, going up and down the stairs, or using a box or ledge to perform step-ups, etc.

From the virtual engagements, she realised that most of her clients/followers lack motivation when it comes to working out alone.

“It’s sad to see (my clients) who worked many years to achieve their fitness goals but in the end it goes to waste because this pandemic made them stop working out,” she said. “There’s no one there to push them, no one to scream in their ears to say ‘don’t stop!’ or ‘keep going’.

“If you haven’t been motivated to workout, do not feel bad. I’ve been in the same boat. But, there comes a time when you need to put that aside and prioritise your health.”

This made Maria decide to start conducting free live feed workout videos through her social media so anyone can join in and attempt some workouts from the comfort of their living room or even backyard.

In a few weeks, she managed to reach out to 14,000 viewers, from only 4,000 when she initially posted ‘stay at home’ directives.

This also caught the attention of 118 Residence, whereby Maria collaborated on a “workout from home” free live feed on her Instagram page to further reach not only her clients but also the community as a whole on staying fit from home.

Her advice for those who want to attempt a workout from home is to pay attention to the subtle language of movement.

“Use this time to learn how to train yourself, using exercises that work for your own unique body.”

However, Maria revealed that she was not always an outgoing person as she suffers from anxiety attacks. She couldn’t engage in public speaking and was excused to do her presentation during university years.

“Being a fitness instructor enables me to manage my anxiety attacks. You can’t stop yourself from doing things that scare. You need to face it.”

“I like fitness, it gives a lot of benefits and has helped me overcome my mental health issues (anxiety) by putting myself out there and just being brave,” she added.

She still conducts her online workout sessions during Ramadhan but with limitations and she continues to collaborate with various parties in order to reach out to the community.