Stumbling upon these exercise snacks reminded me that going easy is perfectly okay amid a global pandemic
My workdays and evenings are filled with pockets of browse breaks. I’m certain we all have these, however we may call them and however many we may take. Gone are the days of humans sitting at desks, chin in palm, thinking the world away. Now in vogue: the scintillating finger tapping and scroll of the online browse.
While many of the world’s greatest thoughts have already been “thought away,” there is gold tucked into the ever sparse corners of the internet waiting to be found.
And I did find gold
Recently, clumsily tapping through Instagram, I opened up one of Joe Holder’s workouts. Holder, a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist claiming Virgil Abloh and Naomi Campbell as clients, encourages a gentler view of personal fitness. While indeed his Instagram is host to clips of the Nike Master Trainer doing things completely outside my realms of possibility—i.e. squatting what looks to be his bodyweight and dunking a basketball—he maintains that our struggles towards wellness needn’t be struggles at all.
To one interviewer, Holder says, “Wellness is a practice of taking care of yourself in private so that in public you feel better, and you can take care of everything around you.”
Stripping away the complexities of what wellness has become, filled with certain notions of achievement, Holder asks us to do simply that which our bodies are made to: move.
And that is quite fine as I will surely never dunk.
So what was the workout?
I ran into and instantly tried out Holder’s “seated snack #4,” five minutes of calf pumping, reaching and breathing that did two things: (1) had me looking like a lunatic at my work desk, and (2) had me feeling a whole lot calmer and focused afterwards.
Holder’s focus during the, in his words, “movement break,” was simply that we Instagram denizens “feel better” after taking some time to move about and away from whatever had been occupying us.
This five-minute fitness activity fits into a whole brand of short and simple workouts curated by Holder on his Exercise Snacks Instagram, which maintains on its bio “an open source exercise library of ideas and products.”
Gently blending an achievable view of fitness with a less demanding workout schedule, Holder serves an herbal tea of calm in a sea of online fitness accounts touting trophy achievements in fitness as though they were the only marks of wellness.
While surely most of us won’t be running a sub-two hour marathon, running on a treadmill for 24 hours without pause or going outside to exercise after 9am for that matter, the burden that such fitness accomplishments are the only signals of wellness need not sit on our shoulders.
A global slump
More than our obvious inability to skip into gym or gather for team sports, the pandemic and the restrictions put in place to mitigate its spread have done a number on our mental health.
In one report prepared by US nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, “about 4 in 10 adults in the US have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder,” which is a marked increase from just one in 10 adults reporting these symptoms from Jan.to June 2019.
Wellness extends far beyond physical achievement and well into a feeling of wellness. It remains important that whatever we do to complement the general maintenance of our wellness—eating well, exercising safely, keeping in touch with loved ones–adds to the positive feeling about ourselves rather than piling pressure on us to achieve certain things or look certain ways.
The fact of the matter is: We’re in an unprecedented global slump. If I were to list metrics indicating the same, this would be a much longer article.
Hence, go easy
While there will come a day when gyms regain their place in our fitness regimens and we will once again descend onto grass fields in numbers to participate or watch group sports, we (at least for now) find ourselves at desks and on chairs as far away from others as possible.
That we pump our calves and flail our arms (in deliberate motion, mind you) in bouts of activity aimed at helping us feel better is indeed at the heart of fitness—at the heart of wellness. We must allow signals of athletic achievement, whether running, weightlifting or golf swinging, to be allocated their due credit but find our own views of wellness in step with what we are currently capable of—physically, mentally and logistically that is.
While I will (again) never dunk, I will likely return to the gym someday, just as I will someday train hard to get my running pace back down to what I’d swear it once was.
But for now, I can improve my wellness with exercise snacks.
How funny I may look at my desk notwithstanding.