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Image / Editorial

‘As a former gym bunny, the last few months have been tough’


by Shayna Sappington
16th Jun 2020
‘As a former gym bunny, the last few months have been tough’

After gyms closed, I stopped exercising altogether and lost confidence. I was forced to reshape my body positivity philosophy and find a new way to exercise and self-motivate


I have never been much of a self-motivator. Growing up, I was always part of team sports and led by a coach who would constantly push us during training. So when it came to working out, I found gym classes were the best way for me to exercise.

Finding a close-by gym on my morning commute, I regularly attended 7am spin, yoga and Pilates classes and loved it (I know, I am one of those). I looked forward to my early morning jaunt to the train, intense workout (urged by inner competitiveness) and post-workout reward coffee. It is a great way to start the day with a morning boost of endorphins and sense of accomplishment.

Downward spiral

However, when gyms were suddenly closed at the start of the pandemic, my routine was shattered. Not only were gyms closed altogether, but even small bouts of exercise like walking to and from shops and nights out in town were no longer an option. Like most, the first few weeks seemed a glorious vacation from the usual early mornings and long commute, but the time quickly flew by and I found myself in a lethargic and pessimistic state.

I wasn’t used to all this downtime and it began to take a physical and mental toll. Lack of exercise and frequent takeaways led to me gaining weight, and I couldn’t break free of self-deprecating thoughts. Something as small as a pair of jeans no longer fitting caused me to have an emotional meltdown.

So, when the good weather started up a few weeks ago, I decided enough was enough. I asked my friend to be my fitness accountability partner (which helped a ton!) and started to regularly exercise again. I’m not much of a runner, so I found other fun ways to exercise like cycling (Bleeper Bikes are great if you don’t own one), online fitness classes (so many are free to do right now) and long walks through my local park.

This helped in two ways: 1) It gave me something to look forward to and pulled me out of my slump and 2) I started to feel better about myself. These daily workouts got me out of the house and into a new, freeing headspace. Plus, it forced me to socialise more by exercising with my workout buddy.

Body positivity

For me, working out isn’t about weight loss. It is about getting into that rhythmic groove of feeling good about my body and showing it some self-love. Don’t get me wrong, I still get regular takeouts and probably have way too many rest days, but I do so without spiralling into self-doubt. 

And while it’s nice knowing that I have the ability to take charge and self-motivate now, I am counting down the days until gyms reopen and I can join my regular spin classes. It’s just not the same without the techno music, flashing lights and reassuring shouts of “keep it up, ladies”.

In the meantime, however, I will continue to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and newly-found self confidence. Maybe I’ll even find a new balance when this is all over, alternating gym classes with outdoor cycles, and discover what works best for my mental and physical wellbeing.

Read more: Spaghetti straps, be gone: 8 stylish sports bras that actually work 

Read more: 5 outdoor activities and parklands you can experience in Ireland right now

Read more: Here’s what gyms will look like when restrictions lift

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