Mom Inc.

You Gotta Move

Working out in the Age of Corona

By Renee Whitmore

I had to do something. Working from home meant a lot of sitting. The heat outside made jogging miserable. The endless recipes of chocolate chip cookies and banana nut muffins — perfected during QT (quarantine time) from an old cookbook — were turning me into a sloth diva.

YouTube to the rescue. I combed through home workouts, pulled on my too-tight leggings and classic running shoes and, armed to my triceps with 5-pound dumbbells, I planted myself in front of a laptop in the middle of the living room. Let’s do this.

As soon as her disturbingly enthusiastic voice — so high-pitched only Bailey, my 100-pound Rottweiler, could understand the vowels — blared through my speakers, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I started the squats, the lunges, the running in place, the jumping this way and that, all in an effort to keep up with the 20-something brunette who just walked out of an Olympic fitness competition and into my house.

Gasping for air, I took a water break and told my YouTube mistress to go on without me — I would catch up in a minute. Bailey, excited from all the jumping, looked at me as if I had personally let him down in the most profound way. That’s when I saw my teenager, David, sticking his head out of his room. If he was trying not to laugh, he wasn’t trying very hard.

“Seriously? You think this is funny?”

“No, not at all,” his voice said, but his eyes were howling.

Sweat dripping down my forehead, I checked the AC to make sure it was still working, gulped some more water, and rejoined my YouTube fitness führer, who was now trying to make me do a minute-long plank that lasted a month and a half.

I took a few more “breaks,” popped some ibuprofen, slathered Icy Hot all over my shoulders, and didn’t move for the rest of the day.

The next morning, I reached out on Facebook. “Does anyone know of any workouts from home that won’t embarrass me in front of my kids and my dog?” I posted.

People mean well, they really do — I suppose. Some suggested fitness apps. That was a maybe. A few more mentioned YouTube videos. No thank you. Then I got a private message from one of my colleagues who teaches fitness classes. She was offering daily Zoom workouts — cardio mix, Pilates, yoga, and so on. Fitness in real-time with someone I knew. Yes, please.

I joined the workout at 4:30 p.m., but this time I set up in my bedroom and put a note on the door that said:

Workout in Session

Do Not Enter

(Dogs only)

Eight of us lined the screen in our little Zoom boxes. Bailey and I began the squats, the lunges, and all that other stuff. It wasn’t so bad because my colleague told us what we were doing and what was coming next, so there weren’t any surprise three-day planks. Our little Zoom squares all moved in unison.

As the weeks went by, I looked forward to my workouts and even moved myself back out to the living room. I’ve completed three months worth now, 4-5 days a week, balancing out my newest baking recipe: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, chocolate chip brownies. The exercise sessions have been largely uninterrupted — except for that one day. It went like this:

Two minutes till Zoom.

Me: “I’m gonna do my Zoom workout. All of y’all leave me alone for 45 minutes. That’s all I ask.”

Five minutes in.

Kevin, the 11-year-old: “Mom, I have a question.”

Me (doing jumping jacks, breathing hard): “It can wait.”

Five minutes later.

Kevin: “So, am I or am I not starting back to school in the fall? And, I need a phone. All my friends have phones.”

Me (doing squats): “I’ll talk in 34 minutes.”

Less than four minutes pass.

Kevin: “There’s someone at the door. I think they may have the coronavirus.”

It was our beloved UPS delivery woman. Amazon trumps Zoom. And so does an open gym. PS

When Renee isn’t teaching English or being a professional taxi driver for her two boys, she’s working on her first book.

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