Surviving Lockdown Sane & Sound
Using Martial Arts & Fitness To Maintain Your Mental & Physical Wellbeing
We’re all doing what we can in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, when “doing what we can” means staying at home and avoiding human contact, it can feel an awful lot like doing nothing.
At the SMA Centre, we fully agree with following the experts’ advice and abiding by the country’s lockdown, even if it is deemed necessary to extend it. But, we don’t believe that that is all we can do in the fight against COVID-19 and its impact on the material and emotional quality of our lives.
While our students, staff and fellow South Africans are stuck at home (whether for a few more days or a few more weeks) forced into inactivity and worry with frustrated children and stressed-out spouses, we wanted to share some thoughts on how to work within the limits of the lockdown. As the SMA Centre has proven by continuing classes remotely, we can still use this time to strengthen your body and mind, instead of letting this coronavirus weaken us more than we absolutely have to.
Fortify Your Body
When forced into an extended period of low activity, it can be very easy to let routines slip and lethargy take over.
Avoid stagnating and letting your fitness slip
It is much easier to stay fit than to get fit – so, don’t waste another moment impressing the shape of your buttocks into the couch cushion. Get moving and find ways to increase your daily activity, whether it’s through a run-of-the-mill exercise regimen or continuing your martial arts training in a limited capacity.
All of the country’s gyms and training centres might be closed. But that’s no excuse; you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.
You don’t need a gym contract to stay in shape; with a little bit of imagination and discipline, your own body and the environment around you can provide all you need to work up a decent sweat. With an internet connection and some dedication, we have managed to keep up with our scheduled classes remotely, as we discuss below.
Ideas on keeping fit at home
Calisthenics & aerobics
You’ll need some free floor space, but with calisthenics (bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups) strengthening your muscles, and aerobics building your cardiovascular endurance, you can have an invigorating and effective full-body workout once or twice a day, while confined to your home.
Train with the family
Your regular sparring and training partners might be unavailable, but if you can convince your family of the benefits, staying in shape could be a way to bond with your loved ones during these trying times. The modern age provides you with all sorts of stop-gap solutions. For example, our instructors have been preparing and sending out weekly training videos, ensuring our students have no excuse not to keep up their development.
Dust off the old treadmill
Many of us have stowed away fitness equipment that we bought with good intentions, but that’s just ended up gathering dust in a forgotten corner of our homes. Whether it’s an elliptical trainer, a treadmill or a weight-bench, now’s as good a time as any to pull it out and put it to use.
Fortify Your Mind
Physical fitness is fantastic, but it should be balanced by mental fortitude – especially when times are tough and you need to keep a firm hold on your wits and composure.
Lockdown, martial arts and mental health
This has been a stressful and emotionally taxing time; whether lockdown is about to be behind us or is extended, you should prioritise bolstering your inner strength just as much as, if not even more than your physical fitness.
If you’re a student at the SMA Centre, you’ll find that the discipline you’ve developed is especially helpful in creating and maintaining the routines that can keep your mind focused. Routine is important in tough times; it gives you a sense of control that can help you to better cope with change and ward off depression.
Maintaining your martial arts skills might be challenging – without an instructor to monitor your technique, or trained partners to test it against, you will be hard-pressed to develop your skills. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to stay as sharp as possible so that when you return to full-time supervised training, you won’t can pick up where you left off instead of catching up to where you were.
Ideas for keeping your mind sharp at home
Strict daily routine
when you’re not allowed out and there’s nowhere to go, it can be difficult finding a reason to even get out of bed in the morning. But oversleeping will throw out your sleep cycles, and disrupted sleep can lead to feelings of melancholy. Likewise, an unstructured day-to-day life can leave you feeling listless and without purpose. Keeping up a routine while you’re away from work or school will keep lethargy at bay making it a lot easier to adjust to normalcy once the lockdown is over.
Study martial arts online
For our students, remember to take advantage of the world class coaching that we are making available during this time. (While we wouldn’t suggest starting our martial arts classes remotely, we do have remote fitness classes for those new to the SMA Centre).
Train your family
This would be a great complement to a regular workout session with your family. You can keep your own skills sharp by teaching your loved ones the martial arts techniques you have learned in class. Remember to be gentle! You don’t want anyone to get hurt, so demonstrate the mechanics of submissions and strikes, without applying force.
With more time at home, you have more time to dedicate to reflection, introspection and clarity. If at all possible (and we know it can be difficult if you’ve got children and spouse to keep entertained) schedule some quiet time every day, during which you can meditate. Clarity of mind is important in so many martial arts for a reason: whatever the fight is, you won’t win it with a clouded mind.
The SMA Centre Will Still Be Here When The Crisis Is Over
For now, we are all doing the responsible thing and staying at home to flatten the curve while we wait to hear government’s assessment of the COVID-19 crisis and our country’s next moves in response to it. While we wait, we at the SMA Centre want to remind you that these tough times will pass. Stay safe and be responsible; we are all facing this crisis together, and we will make it through together.
To our students, we will keep in touch as the situation changes. And we will let you know how we plan to move forward, keeping the health and safety of our students and staff as top priority at all times. As you continue your training at home, we encourage you to send us videos of your training sessions, so that we can provide feedback and instruction.
We remain committed to your mental and physical wellbeing, and will continue to work on ways to support your development, come what may.
Otherwise, stay safe, stay strong. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon!