20200426 113041Tomorrow marks six weeks of lockdown and if my social news feed is anything to go by, six weeks of gardening, cooking, drinking, working-out, crafting and Netflix binging.  Not necessarily in that order.  Not necessarily all of the above in all households.  I read a great post the other day highlighting the need for everyone to be kind to themselves and it struck a chord with me because of something my friend Anna said during a work phone-call this week.  

She commented on this very blog, and said how positive I looked and how easy I was making lockdown appear. I thought it would be useful therefore to clear up that particular myth! This week I have cried several times, made a loaf of sourdough bread, sworn on several hundred occasions, eaten as much chocolate as I have veg (ie a lot for both!), re-potted a load of plants in the garden, done my daily walk on only three out of seven days, squeezed in one workout (this one!) and watched zero on the telly because I’ve been so exhausted with the emotional turmoil of it all.  

Just because you see super-duper families who seem to be taking this all in their stride, doesn’t mean you’re ‘failing’ the corona exam because all you’ve done is eat crisps and shout at the telly.   

Like many families we’re having a ‘crisis’ within the crisis and this makes the lockdown incredibly hard. But I’m a positive person by default so I do tend to find that doing small, enjoyable things help me stay mentally well. I fully appreciate though that it isn’t as easy as that for everyone – if you tend towards anxiety or depression then a situation like this is bound to exacerbate it.  Which brings me neatly back to the start – be kind to yourself.

rsz 1untitled design 1That doesn’t mean you need to whip up a batch of handmade face-masks or get your kids and the dog in a circle for a daily meditation.  I can’t tell you how many studies I’ve read over my 8 years with Live Active Leisure that prove without exception what exercise can do for your mental wellbeing – if you can do just a little each day, then you WILL feel better.  A lift in serotonin, a boost in endorphins and depending on heavy you go, better sleep – it’s biologically built-in to bring you benefit.

This routine has 3 x 45 secs of 8 exercises plus a warm up. If you do the whole thing at that level it’s about 20 minutes.   I did 30 secs of each this week – you can start at ten if you like! Use it as that ten, fifteen or twenty minutes in the day that you’re kind yourself.  If you don’t fancy this one, check into the LAL Facebook page everyday at 10am where they’ll be offering up different ideas and routines for exercise during lockdown – they really are worth a go.

And if you want to reward yourself with a family-sized bag of crisps, do it! (Please note, this particular piece of advice has NOT been scientifically proven to bring benefit outside of my living room!).

The Suitcase Routine From Kirsty


And there you were thinking your suitcase would be gathering dust all summer! Get it down from the loft and get ready to join in a great strength and conditioning style workout based on the moves of a Body Pump class.

Kirsty did her video in the garden (as did I) but as long as you have an arms width of space you’ll be fine. If you don’t have a suitcase handy then you can use anything with a bit of weight in it.

Exercises Include:

  1. 20200426 114206A wee warm up
  2. Single Leg Deadlift
  3. Squat Press
  4. Bent Over Row
  5. Single Leg Squat
  6. Tricep Push Up – 2 options
  7. Toe Taps
  8. Side Leaps
  9. Agility Run

So, we’ve chatted mental wellbeing but what do these exercises do for your body?  

This would be considered a full-body workout – done regularly you’ll tone and shape without adding bulky muscles.  It is based on the rep effect – a proven formula that exhausts muscles using light weights, while performing high repetitions in order to develop lean, athletic muscle.

How did I get on?

Well, I’m a bit of a BodyPump fan so I loved it! I went with an empty suitcase and as I’ve mentioned, I did 30 second intervals.  However, even I knew I could be lifting more so I’ll add a few t-shirts and my ‘only wear abroad’ shorts the next time I do it.  Here are my observations:

  • 20200426 113925Avid body-pumpers could adjust the weight for different parts of this workout.
  • Single Leg Squats require balance… to prove it’s not all smiles and easy running, here’s me trying to get it right!
  • I like the simplicity of this routine. Nothing is too complicated and you can start and stop – which I did a few times – to get your technique right.
  • I went with tricep push up option 2. It is the easier option but still requires some strength. Note that Kirsty asks you to keep your elbows in – make sure you do this for maximum effort.
  • Toe taps take more effort than you’d think! Heart racing!

I was a little out of breath – but as I said, I could have done more.  Whilst it is better to start low and aim to build up to the full workout, remember to be honest with yourself.  Adjust your time and weight accordingly. If you’re making the effort to do something then why not make it worth it!?

I did this in the garden; fresh air and squats… the ideal combo to trigger those good vibe feelings and spread a little kindness in your own direction.

Live Active Leisure is offering daily workouts and ideas for keeping active on their Facebook page every day at 10am.  You can also click onto their At Home section on the website or visit their YouTube channel.

If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing during lockdown, click onto Mind.org.uk for some tips and contacts to help you through this tough time.