Losing your ‘Gym’ Mojo....(even if you are a PT!) and how to recover it

By Carla Crook - Exclusive PT

We all have that stereotypical image of a personal trainer, they live and breathe everything fitness, they should be motivational, inspirational - we imagine everything in their lives revolves around the gym and working out - they would never ever miss gym workouts right, let alone lose passion for the gym and working out?????!!!!!!

Well I’m here, as a personal trainer myself, to tell you that’s not always true - I’ve lost my gym mojo. There - I said it!! I won’t lie either, it’s taken a lot of bottle for me to admit it. But it’s important I do as I want everyone to know it can happen to the best of us, those ‘die hard’ gym goers - even athletes.  Once upon a time, before having kids, getting married, looking after horses, dogs and a whole menagerie of other animals I was obsessed with the gym, I’d give myself a hard time if I even missed one session, I was prepared to put everyone else around me second to getting my fix.  Nowadays I’m more flexible with my approach to training. I fit it in at set times during the week. I am but human and as I’ve got older I’ve learnt about balance, responsibilities for others and am now attuned to family life and all the challenges that can bring, so much so that routine is everything if I’m to get anything done (including training) and low and behold if anything disrupts my daily routine, as a creature of habit I don’t like change. But then guess what - along comes Covid19 to mess up all my structure and well laid plans!  At first adapting to lock down was quite easy. In my other role as a museum administrator I was put on furlough. My PT came to a stop as social distancing measures were put in place. This gave me the time to focus on home schooling my two daughters - my husband had to self isolate with his vulnerable father to look after, so was away from home and it was just my girls and I in our Covid19 bubble from April through to June. I knew I’d miss the gym, my clients and the social aspect of meeting all my friends, however there was a positive side to lockdown in the sense that with so much time at home and nothing much to do I was able to train first thing in the morning. I had enough gym kit at home to keep me ticking over and managed to source some more equipment before the rush and everything sold out. I had my training programme from my coach Luke adapted to my home equipment so no need to plan anything - just follow the programme! Not having to then rush to get ready and whizz off to work and the routine of the school run. I also dug out our old Nintendo Wii and the kids and I would do activities, games and challenges, some mornings we’d join Joe Wicks for his morning PT sessions on You Tube and in the afternoon we’d walk the dog and spend quality time riding ponies and out enjoying nature up at the yard. I was active all the time and the variety kept me stimulated and motivated!!

I enjoyed being in my bubble and training alone became familiar, comfortable and my new ‘habit’. I started to think forward and wonder how I’d adapt going back to the gym - how would I cope with more people around me, what about the Covid19 risks and then the doubts crept in - have I lost form, how much strength have I lost only having limited equipment at home, am I still ‘good’ enough, will I still be good enough for my clients??  Come July my furlough at the museum came to a close as did home schooling and my wonderful lockdown ‘bubble’ came to an abrupt end. It felt like a short, sharp shock. No more relaxed training, chilling out at home or up at the field with no time constraints. Back to a new reality! Now I had to establish a brand new routine and one that would have barely any structure as my working days at the museum would vary, I’d be running around to drop the girls off for childcare and my husband also needed assistance to help with caring for his father. My window for opportunity to train was becoming narrower and narrower and in order to get other things done I’d push it forward. I'd say to myself, ‘oh I’ll get a session done tomorrow’. Tomorrow came and then I’d do the same. This went on for a couple of weeks and I  could feel myself becoming stressed, annoyed with myself, disappointed and unnecessarily annoyed with those around me. I was bored of training at home, I felt angry with myself that the gyms had reopened but I was reluctant to go back - as a PT I shouldn’t be feeling like this!!?? I felt I’d lost faith in my abilities. I became absorbed with what others were doing on social media - they are all training, looking good and positive - why is this not me?? 

The pressure of suddenly going back to work and to a routine that I was completely out of touch with had a negative impact on me and it was starting to show. I recognised that I was being far too hard on myself. It takes time for us as humans to establish new habits and we need to recognise that actually life outside of training can and does get in the way and it’s ok. The gym will always be there - if you are feeling stuck in a rut and have lost motivation or confidence and are having difficulty getting your training back on track then I have some tips that will get you rejuvenated and feeling positive again.  So what did I do to start to regain my passion and motivation to want to train again??  Baby steps - don’t expect too much! Start with the simple things in becoming more active. Just focus on those, day by day. If you are struggling speak to others - seek support from your family and let them know how you are feeling. Focus on YOU - don’t be drawn in to what others are up to (particularly on social media!)  Here are a list of things I would do if I knew I couldn’t get a training session in;-

  1. Walking. I’d take the dog for a walk or I’d walk out with the girls if they were riding. Even if it was just for 10 minutes I’d make that walk brisk and take in all my surroundings. It’s amazing how good being amongst nature is for mental wellbeing and peace of mind 

  2. Housework - don’t laugh......I’d knock back a can of Monster, stick on some uplifting tunes and blitz the house for a good hour. Sometimes that hour turned into two. Not only did I get much needed chores done but the constant activity and running around burned plenty of calories! Once you’ve done any kind of vigorous activity all those positive endorphins are released and you’ll feel so much better and you’ll remember just how good exercise makes you feel.  

  3. Stick on a fitness DVD or play the Nintendo Wii. Having something/someone else telling you what to do without having to think about it means no overthinking in what you’ll do during your session and save on time too. 

  4. Focus on immediate goals for accountability. Like committing to a 10 minute walk each day, parking your car further away when shopping, tracking your steps and setting a daily target. Just little goals to get started. 

  5. Mindfulness. I found watching relaxation videos on YouTube or listening to motivational podcasts on Spotify really uplifting when I was feeling down 

  6. Reach out to others - a socially distanced walk or activity with a friend means you will have their support too and gives you a reason to get up and get going 

  7. Try something different! There are lots of outdoor gyms locally, or local parks with basketball courts/tennis courts. Have some fun with your family and make it a family outing to shoot some hoops or try some tennis. 

  8. Diarising commitments. I found if I planned ahead and wrote down in my physical diary (hate having a diary on my phone!) the times set aside for training and other appointments (including time with my family) I’d be more likely to stick to them and could tick them off once I’d done them. 

  9. Sleep. My worst habit ever is falling asleep on the sofa. Sometimes I’d wake up at midnight then drag myself up to bed  and feel rubbish in the morning. It is completed underrated how much we need good sleep to set a good circadian rhythm and help ourselves recover mentally and physically. I now have my smartphone set up to remind me when to go to bed and then wake me in the morning, that way I can ensure I get all the sleep I need to have a productive day. 

  10. A good, balanced diet goes without saying but again, making sure I drink plenty of water and eating enough carbs for energy, protein for muscle building and fats for allowing the body to metabolise all those vitamins and repair cells goes hand in hand with sleep in making sure our bodies are primed to cope with the day to day rigours of life in general. 

What I want to say more than anything is I understand this is how a lot of people have been feeling over lockdown. I’ve been through it and I can help you though it too! If you need some motivation and accountability and want to get back on track then please, reach out to  me through Exclusive PT and we can work out a plan of action and get those ‘baby steps’ in motion.

Stay safe, stay healthy and don’t be too hard on yourselves! Xx 

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