Setting Workout Dates With My Friend Is the Only Way I Can Work Out at Home

Before coronavirus, I had my workout routine down. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I had a standing reservation at my favorite barre studio. Tuesdays and Thursdays involved a yoga session, and weekends were reserved for rest and family time. My routine worked like clockwork, and I looked forward to my hour of "me time" every day among the working mom chaos that was my life.

And then the COVID-19 precautions came along. My group classes closed, my daughter was no longer physically in school, and my daily to-do list somehow felt like it had tripled. My regular workouts immediately stopped, and I was living a very sedentary and stressful lifestyle.

I understand the importance of regular exercise. From keeping my body healthy to keeping my mind calm and energized, there are too many benefits to list. But I have never been a person who can go for a jog or do a workout on my own. I lose focus and stop too quickly. Group classes help me stay motivated and force me to actually finish my workout.

My barre and yoga studios tried their best to come up with a plan B. But Zoom classes weren't a match for me. A few minutes into a session, I would find myself doing a quick Instagram check or feeling the burning need to fold my laundry ASAP. Nothing was holding me accountable.

Over time, my attempts to exercise completely stopped. And it caught up with me both physically and mentally. I had every excuse in the book to not exercise — no free time, no know-how, no energy, you name it — and I took advantage of each one. But in the back of my head, I knew that it wasn't healthy to go so long without moving my body.

When my friend (who is equally as busy and tired as I am) was griping to me about her lack of energy and stress levels, I knew she was also missing out on the benefits of her regular workouts. Seeing the way the lack of exercise was affecting her made me take a hard look in the mirror. Something needed to change.

After explaining all of the reasons why we both need to prioritize exercising at home while juggling pandemic life to my friend, she agreed to "try." However, we knew that we both had the same obstacles to overcome.

The biggest challenges for both of us are motivation and time. However, we dedicated two one-hour blocks to moving our bodies. We committed to 7-8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and agreed to hold each other accountable to use the time to get our muscles working and our hearts pumping. We "booked" our respective husbands to be on parent duty during our blocks of time, and we got our water bottles ready the night before.

At 6:50 a.m. on workout days, we call each other on FaceTime. We take 10 minutes to get some chatting out of the way and decide which workout we'll tackle. At 7 a.m., our workout begins. We start up the same YouTube video, and go through the instructions simultaneously, watching each other to make sure nobody is tapping out early. Since we're on FaceTime, the temptation to answer an incoming phone call or to check our emails is gone. Plus, the effort of coordinating everything makes us feel like we need to take the time to do what we set out to do. No TV breaks, no "quickly folding laundry," just 60 minutes of uninterrupted sweat, movement, and music . . . and an occasional gossip break as we follow along with the YouTube instructor — you've got to make workouts fun after all! We've followed this biweekly plan for almost four months, and it's so effective, I wouldn't be surprised if it continues when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Working out right now is not the same as it was before the pandemic. But then again, not many things are the same as they were pre-COVID-19. Leaning on my friend to motivate me to exercise and having a set time for movement every week are must haves for at-home workouts, at least in my case. Now if only I can find a fun way to motivate myself to do dishes.