• 7 Reasons Why Covid-19 Is Destroying Your Fitness Motivation.

Written By: Katie Purcell



Covid-19. Coronavirus. #Quarantine2020. Social Distancing. Isolation. Are we adapting to the "New Normal"...or just trying to make it through to the other side, when we can get back to our "real lives?"

...No matter who you are or what your situation is, one thing is for sure: the Covid-19 pandemic has likely impacted you in a major way. Many of us have had to deal with significant changes in our day-to-day lives; and even though it is crucial for our mental health and well-being, an unfortunate side-effect has been that many of us are struggling to find the motivation to continue to exercise regularly.

squidward meme no fitness motivation


Why Am I Struggling So Hard To Find The Motivation To Work Out During Coronavirus??

First of all let me just say that I definitely "get it": if you're someone who is typically all about that "fit life," then it can be confusing - and upsetting - to feel like all of a sudden you just can NOT seem to get yourself moving...even if you know that it always makes you feel better. So let me reassure you that if you are one of these people, you are definitely not alone. Check out the list below to see some of the more common reasons why some of us have fallen off the fitness bandwagon at some point during #Quarantine2020. A few are classics in the "motivation killer" department, while others are unique/especially challenging due to current circumstances.

Reasons Why You're Not Motivated To Work Out During Covid-19:

  1. Your Structure/Routine Is Gone
  2. You Miss Other People
  3. There's A Lot To Do In The "New Normal"...And Something's Gotta Give
  4. You're Getting Caught In The Social Media Comparison Trap
  5. You Need To Have Solid Goals To Work Towards
  6. You're Putting Too Much Pressure On Yourself
  7. The Spiral Of Total Overwhelm

...Anything sound familiar? Let's take a look at each in a little more detail:


You Might Have Lost Your Motivation To Exercise During Coronavirus Because: Your Structure/Routine Is Gone.

"Structure" and “routine” go hand-in-hand, and both of them can be key factors in keeping us focused and consistent with our workouts.

For example: having the routine of going to your 6am CrossFit class every weekday no matter what can be what makes the difference between getting out of bed or hitting the snooze alarm. Because being committed to a routine takes the guesswork out of the day-to-day and removes the option to skip out if you “just don’t feel like it.” Or following the structure of a training plan that leads up to your next Race Day makes it easy to know which days are for hard work and which are for tapering/active recovery.

7 reasons why coronavirus is killing your fitness motivation your structure and routine are gone

The drastic changes in our daily schedules and the closing of fitness facilities have likely thrown a huge monkey wrench into whatever routines or structure was working for you, and it can be a huge mental hurdle to have to pivot so dramatically – virtually overnight. At the risk of pointing out the obvious: unexpected changes and massive shifts in lifestyle are kind of the opposite of structure and routine. So it’s unsurprising that this could have a negative impact on your motivation to exercise at all! 

Sound Like You? Try This: Give yourself some structure/a consistent routine and stick to it - even if it takes several tries to figure out what is most sustainable to fit into your lifestyle. Establishing a new routine can be hard to get started, but it's worth it if it will keep you from feeling lost/adrift or procrastinating/sabotaging your workout. It removes the necessity of self-starting your motivation each day, because once a familiar routine becomes an engrained habit (e.g., working out first thing in the morning, or directly after you clock-out of work) it's much easier for you to stay consistent.


You Might Have Lost Your Motivation To Exercise During Coronavirus Because: You're Lacking Social Connection & Accountability (a.k.a: You Miss Other People).

For some people the multi-layered social aspects of fitness are a huge part of what keeps them going. On the most basic level is the benefits we get from the social connection itself: feelings of association or belonging give us the "warm fuzzies" by making us feel like "part of the group"...which is why even when you really don't feel like getting out of your comfy bed for an early morning WOD: the pull of getting to see your "tribe" can be enough to motivate you to get moving.

And even if you're not necessarily "friends" with the other people who belong to your gym, I think I can probably speak for a lot of us when I say that it's still a great feeling to physically be in a place where you feel like people "get you" and are supportive of you dedication to fitness as a lifestyle. In a recent article on Under Armour's POPSUGAR Fitness, CrossFitter Jenny Sugar seems to agree:

"Working out with a community of like-minded people has been like therapy for me. It's helped me build my confidence, pushed me to be better and stronger, and filled me with so much joy. It brings me to tears thinking about how much I miss it...I feel a little broken, like I've lost an important piece of the puzzle that makes me feel whole. Every day that goes by without this physical and emotional outlet makes me feel a little less like myself." 

why coronavirus is killing your fitness motivation infographic lack of social connection and accountability

In addition to the "warm fuzzies" and being around people who "get you" is the "accountability" aspect: which basically means that if you work out with your tribe and you don't show up, they're gonna call you out on it and that could do wonders for your motivation to like, actually show up and do work. When you're actually at the gym, the social benefits come into play when you push yourself just a *little* harder...because you want to keep up with everyone else! 

Sound Like You? Try This! There are other ways to find community even during social distancing, if you are creative enough! Many gyms are offering live streaming workouts via Zoom: if your gym isn't one of them, there are plenty of promo offers out there...go explore and find your Corona-Tribe! There are several options on the resource page I put together called WOD*SQUAD*OCR: CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES FOR OCR ATHLETES. If a live Zoom class isn't your thing you can also join an online community like Strava or Yes.Fit: both of them offer a way for you to connect with others, get inspiration for workouts, and more. Finally, if you absolutely need some in-person interaction to get motivated: coordinate with a friend to run to each others' houses, or commit to meeting at a designated parking lot - even if the workout itself is still done in a socially-distant fashion :) 


You Might Have Lost Your Motivation To Exercise During Coronavirus Because: You Just Have Too Much On Your Plate Right Now.

Consider this question: Is the problem that you're having truly a lack of motivation to exercise...or are you just trying to juggle too much at once?? It's natural for priorities to shift at different points in our lifetimes depending on what needs our attention most: and it's likely that these days, you have a few new balls up in the air! Balancing the time crunch of a crazy new schedule can take a toll that chews us up and spits us out: leaving us super exhausted, and not exactly in the mood to lace up our sneakers for a trail run.

why coronavirus is killing your fitness motivation infographic you're really busy

Maybe you're a parent currently working from home, and your two kids are also at home: so now you find yourself in a balancing act of learning the new software for your conference calls...combined with taking on your new role as "homeschool teacher." Or you're a college student trying to transition to online-only learning, and navigating the shifting internship/job search landscape. By the time you have a minute to pause to catch your breath, you are so worn out that you can't even think about attempting a workout. 

Sound Like You? Try This: The first step in this one is a mental health/priorities check-in: because if you feel you are being run ragged by a overly-demanding new schedule, then maybe a lack of motivation isn't the real problem...maybe you need to re-evaluate priorities based on your current situation. There are only so many hours in the day and we are dealing with some BIG changes. The reality is: your current obligations may require you to choose between scaling back on your training (for the time being), or trying to fit in ALL THE THINGS and completely losing what's left of your sanity. Don't be too hard on yourself if your training needs a temporary scale-down (or even a break) while you figure out your new balance! 

...Or, if you want to compromise by trying to sneak in a super quick workout...Beachbody offers a couple: like Transform :20 (20 mins/day), 22 Minute Hard Corps (22 mins/day), and 10 Minute Trainer (10 mins/day).


You Might Have Lost Your Motivation To Exercise During Coronavirus Because: You're Getting Caught In The Social Media Comparison Trap.

With everyone stuck at home and most (if not all) of the big events you'd look forward to being cancelled, you might think that one silver lining would be that at least you don't have to worry about FOMO scrolling through your newsfeed. Because we're all in the same boat so there's nothing to feel like you're "missing out" on, right? Wrong.

These days most people are home alright: everyone's posting/checking social media even more than usual...and in the empty niche that #MedalMonday posts used to fill, content highlighting a continued commitment to fitness seem to be the hot topic. Scrolling through a typical newsfeed would make you think that #athomeworkouts had always been the norm, and that the quick transition from a traditional gym routine - with full equipment - to a #DrivewayWOD - using only your bodyweight and 2 cans of soup - is the most natural thing in the world. And if you were already struggling with getting your workout motivation going, the constant imagery of your insta-fitness friends continuing to crush their training - seemingly without any interruption whatsoever - can make you feel even more demotivated and lazy by comparison.

Sound Like You? Try This: We've all agreed that "social media isn't real life,"  and yet we continue to let it get under our skin. Keep it in perspective: give people the benefit of the doubt, without letting it cross the line and cause you to doubt yourself. Some of those accounts might be fitness professionals doing what they can to make up for their source of income virtually disappearing overnight. Others might have been "influencers" before coronavirus who are struggling to keep their audience's attention amidst the flood of new content/accounts. Even the account you might be tempted to criticize as "fake" (because their content is so overly-optimistic and bubbly that it's eyeroll-inducing), might be that way because publishing something positive might be how that person is coping with an uncertain (and scary) situation.

The bottom line: social media can be awesome and do wonders to inspire/motivate us to get out there. But if scrolling through your newsfeed is a one-way ticket to you feeling like crap you have two choices: unfollow/block the specific accounts that are messing with you, or do a complete social media detox to kick the comparison drama to the curb.  


You Might Have Lost Your Motivation To Exercise During Coronavirus Because: You're The Type Of Person Who Thrives When You Have A Solid Goal To Work Towards...& Now All Your Events Have Been Cancelled & It Sucks.

Registering for races and events gives athletes a specific goal to work towards, as well as a timeline to hold them accountable and ensure that their training stays "on track." Many will spend months on intense preparation and training: counting down the days until their first event of the season. Other athletes might not be as focused on the competitiveness of their Finish Time itself: because their goal is to participate in as many races as possible, and add to their medal collection. Both groups train relentlessly to achieve the type of fitness they'll need to pursue their season goals. So as they watched event after event get cancelled and began feeling that their months of preparation were for nothing, many were at a loss for what to do next. If you were one of those devastated athletes feeling like all your hard work was going to waste - and without any promises that there will even be a 2020 race season for you - it's easy to understand why so many of us would end up asking ourselves, "What's the point, anyway?"

Sound Like You? Try This: Lots of us had events we were really looking forward to in 2020 or goals we wanted to work towards. Having all of that taken away at once can feel like a real punch in the gut...but it doesn't have to feel like the end of your season, too.

You know what I'm talking about....(drumroll please)...virtual events!!!

Admittedly, they're not the same as "the real thing." BUT they are an easy way to get an actual solid goal on your calendar, and many of them come with some pretty unique/interesting/colorful medals....yay race bling! I was shocked at the variety of options/level of competitiveness I found while researching virtual events for the article that I published recently, (titled, "13 Awesome Virtual Races To Keep You Motivated During Quarantine 2020"), and several OCR companies have introduced a virtual option to fill in the gaps of some of their cancelled races. 

If you're looking for a goal/challenge with a specific date (and possibly a cool finisher medal to commemorate the experience), there is plenty of variety to be had in the world of virtual events: you just have to keep an open mind and know where to look! 


You Might Have Lost Your Motivation To Exercise During Coronavirus Because: You're Putting Too Much Pressure On Yourself, & It's Backfiring.

Sticking to a routine of regular exercise can be incredibly beneficial when you're going through a difficult time in your life: if it comes with a feeling of accomplishment, or you feel like it helps you regain a little control in the middle of all the chaos. But where this plan backfires is when it doesn't recognize just how much in your life has likely been affected by the pandemic: including the massive adjustments in what you are currently able to do for training, based on what you have available. If scrolling through the panicked posts I've seen in my newsfeed over the past several weeks is any indication, it seems like a lot of people are seriously missing their favorite pieces of gym equipment/exercises that they aren't able to do at home.

coronavirus is killing your fitness motivation because you're setting standards for yourself that are too high

In the wake of so many sudden dramatic changes affecting our day-to-day lives, it's not realistic (or fair) to continue to hold yourself to the same standards of performance. Even the most resilient athlete would need some time to effectively adapt...and constantly focusing on how good you "used" to be at xyz, or how many miles per week you "should" be logging at this point in you training, is only setting yourself up for disappointment. Athletes who are overly concerned with holding themselves accountable to the same standards of fitness that they were before there was a global pandemic are finding that the only thing the added stress is doing for them is leaving them distressed, depressed, and demotivated.

Sound Like You? Try This: Let's face it: if you're intense about your training and/or you (were) one of those people at the gym all the time: in some ways, right now you are are essentially "starting from scratch." Meaning: you have to figure out how to incorporate training into your current situation - whatever that looks like. And let's be honest: there's enough other stuff going on right now that kind of sucks, without you making it worse for yourself.

So do yourself a favor: give yourself some time for the trial-and-error of figuring out how to get comfortable with a new fitness routine that works for you... and don't hold yourself to the same set of standards as when your training conditions were ideal. You absolutely can attain and maintain whatever type of fitness you were able to do before, but give yourself the gift of grace by allowing yourself to navigate through this without the added pressure of demanding too much of yourself and expecting it to happen overnight.


You Might Have Lost Your Motivation To Exercise During Coronavirus Because: You've Been Sucked Into The Spiral Of Complete And Total Overwhelm.

This one is a doozy and can include a combination of any of the above: all rolled up into one giant ball of stress. (Overwhelm: too many choices + other stressors + uncertain future = ahhhhh.) It can also include stuff like:

    • General overwhelm: because let's be real: this whole thing is generally overwhelming. If you're essentially living in "panic mode" as your day-to-day default, it's not surprising that getting psyched to work out might not be top of mind.
    • Overall uncertainty/apprehension about the future: questions like: "Will my cancelled races even get rescheduled? And if they are...will racing ever be the same?" or "Will I ever be able to buy toilet paper again??" are enough to overshadow anyone's motivation to exercise.
    • Searching for alternative exercise plans: and being bombarded with WAY TOO MANY OPTIONS: with no idea where to even start or how to decide what's best for you.

coronavirus is killing your fitness motivation because you are overwhelmed

In a nutshell: there's a lot going on right now. And when the weight of it all gets piled onto your shoulders - one issue after another in rapid succession -  it can be crushing. Hence: overwhelm city....hence: lack of motivation to exercise, because it just feels like one more thing.

Sound Like You? Try This: "What To Do In The Face Of Overwhelm" is one of those topics that already has a TON of articles and books published about it...so I'll stick to the 3 strategies that have been working best for me:

    1. Put It In Perspective: Sometimes we go in "too narrow" with our thinking and forget the "big picture." As crazy or stressful as things might feel right now, take a deep breath and remember: when you look back on your life someday, all of this will only be one small part (see chart below for illustration.) 
    2. Get Proactive With Gratitude: Yup you've heard this a million times, but there's a reason why. Forcing yourself to pause and really think about the good things that are in your life right now - especially the little things - helps some of the crappy things feel less crappy. (Trust me - it's science.) 
    3. Break It Into Bite-Sized Chunks: YOU get to decide where you focus your energy. Instead of giving in to the overwhelm, focus on tackling one issue at a time, and take it day by day.


    We already knew that there are many different and wonderful reasons for why we race...and now we are learning just how important some of those motivations really are in our day-to-day lives. This article reviewed 7 reasons why covid-19 could be messing with our motivation to exercise...based on the specific details and overall uniqueness of the current situation. And now I want to know,

    What has your experience been like during the era of "corona-fitness?"

    Did you have trouble adapting at first, but then got into your groove?

    Or did you feel confident that you wouldn't miss a beat: and then it got REALLY difficult?

    What have been your biggest challenges? And what has been the most effective for keeping you motivated??

    7 reasons why cover-19 is destroying your motivation to exercise

      LIVE FIERCE.  

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    July 31, 2020



    July 31, 2020


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