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How Covid 19 has changed the workplace (and my life)

As another new year starts, like a lot of people, I find myself reflecting on the past year and its highs and lows. One thing that really stands out for me and something that we continue to live and cope with is Covid 19.

I can still remember the first lockdown in March 2020, when we were all resigned to staying at home. I shortly became furloughed (along with many others throughout the country) and not knowing at the time that my fate was sealed and I would eventually be made redundant, proceeded to enjoy my summer off work (and what a summer we had in 2020, the weather was gorgeous!)

I’m not going to lie, the last year has been a tough one. A massive change in work life following my redundancy, along with the fact I’m firmly in my 40s now and getting older, has caused me to reflect and make some serious changes to my life. This, however, has come at a price. Rather than dwell on the negatives of having to watch my pennies and feeling like I’m constantly trying to drum up more work to make ends meet, I think of the positives that have come out of the situation we’ve all been in.

Positive #1: Like many other group exercise instructors when the gyms closed, I lost my classes. Some of these I had been teaching for years. Not only did this force me to find other means of income, but I also had to find another way of training (yes, I was one of those instructors that used their classes to train and get their exercise hours in, yes I know this isn’t good practice). Having been a group exercise instructor for over 20 years, this was the only life I knew and I hadn’t a clue what else to do. Looking back now, this was the best thing to have happened to me. Reflecting back on the routine I used to have: running from morning classes to a fulltime job and then back to the gym for evening classes, I was burnt out and in a rut. My mum suggested that we exercise together online, especially as I was off work on furlough and had time during the day. Although I found this hard to begin with, within a short period I began to really enjoy the home workouts, not having to travel to a gym and being able to train in a different way to what my classes had given me. This change is what my body really needed! My Mrs Motivator on the other end of the internet was getting me up in the morning, and the bonus was she was also exercising, getting tips from me to improve her technique, whilst increasing her health and fitness. We were also keeping each other positive through a hard time, a win all round!

Roll on nearly three years later and neither of us have gone back to classes in the gym, preferring to train together at home, using minimal equipment and varying the workouts as and when we want to.

Positive #2: During the peak of Covid-19, all education provision was put online. Working full time from home was a big change for me. Apart from anything, I did not have the correct setup for working from home. Me being me and being a little naive, I didn’t think I would be working at home long term and therefore didn’t progress to making my home a better set up for working: my laptop was propped up on a couple of yoga blocks on a chest of drawers in the corner of my bedroom and I stood up whilst working all day long! Eventually the inevitable happened and I damaged my neck. This occurred through years of lifting heavy resistance at the gym, not stretching enough; and was then exacerbated by my poor posture whilst teaching online using the laptop for 8 hours per day with my poor home setup. I experienced a bulging disc and compression of the nerves in my neck that affected the whole of my left arm. The exercise at home I had previously been doing was really suitable for me now, and the thought of teaching classes in gyms couldn’t have been further from my mind. So much so that I cancelled my group exercise subscriptions, and sold off all of the music for my pre-choreographed classes. I knew then that I was never going back to my old life. I started to incorporate exercise into my daily working life, taking time out to leave the house during the day and gain other routines. Training when I wanted to, on my terms, rather than having to stick to the times when the classes were on at the gym. Although I still suffer with the neck condition to this day, I am able to manage it and adapt my training to my symptoms, something that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was still teaching classes in the gyms.

Positive #3: More time spent at home working has been hard at times. Many of my days are now spent alone, sometimes with no interaction with anybody (my heart goes out to those that may be in similar positions). I found myself starting to write to help my mindset and mental health, which started to take a massive nosedive during the summer of 2022. Originally the writing was to just help me to digest and offload (feel free to read my blog ‘My Experience with Journaling’), but I soon realised after a while that I really enjoyed the writing and could produce articles and blogs very quickly, and that were of a good standard (I’m obviously a bit biased on this bit lol!) This brings me to my next opportunity and to the start of this blog when I mentioned about making some serious changes to my life. Some people might call it a mid-life crisis (and I guess it is a bit) but doing more writing is what I am now pursuing, and am trying to make some money out of it.

Whether you believe in it or not, I think that things happen for a reason. I do believe that redundancy allowed me to change my life and move into other areas of work. Although Covid-19 was a terrible time for many (and still is), if this had not happened, I could have quite happily carried on doing my full time job for another 11 years; just bobbing along, doing the same thing everyday and becoming stagnant. A decrease in the fitness and education industry in 2020 allowed me to re-evaluate and change what I want to do with my life and to keep moving upwards. For that, I’m extremely grateful.

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