When I come out on the other side of quarantine as a stronger yogi, a more disciplined athlete, and a bit more flexible—mentally and physically— I will have my college creative writing professor to thank for my personal growth.
After running my first half-marathon in December, I decided to quit running for a while. My knees were shot, my cortisol was through the roof (which, in turn, elevated my anxiety levels), and my body was constantly exhausted. I’d fully transitioned into relying solely on yoga, pilates, and occasional HIIT training to stay in shape just in time for those options to become unavailable to me.
Like many other CorePower and exercise class regulars, I took the closure of all gyms and fitness studios pretty hard (and, quite dramatically, if we’re being frank). How can I possibly stay in shape and meet my goals now? And a mere four months before my wedding? Guess I can say goodbye to fitting into my tailored dress. Not to mention my anxiety levels. I’ll be a wreck. I’ll chase all of my friends away. And so on, down the rabbit hole I went.
For about a week, I sat around, feeling sorry for myself, going through my closet and purging my wardrobe in an effort to be productive in some capacity. While rifling through my drawer of old college notebooks, I found a folder filled with projects from my creative writing class — one of my favorite courses I’ve ever taken.
The particular project that caught my attention brought with it a clear memory of the day my professor had assigned it. She’d passed out the rubric, which was riddled with harsh guidelines and seemingly strange requirements. Things like “must have exactly three characters,” “one character must experience betrayal,” and “the setting must be slightly off-putting” made the class raise a collective eyebrow.
She explained that her reasoning for this was to help us grow in our creative faculties. “Sometimes,” she told us, “when we have so much — the whole world, it seems — available to us, it’s tough to know where to start. It is in restriction that we can truly refine, develop, and articulate our creative thoughts and ideas.”
She had been right; through the process of grappling with each of her requirements, developing characters accordingly, and crafting a story around them, the result was far more interesting, intentional, and gripping than it might have been otherwise.
There is power in restriction.
Perhaps this idea extended beyond the realm of creative writing; perhaps it applied to real life, too. And wasn’t this quarantine just about as restricting as it gets?
With the gyms closed, I was limited, but perhaps embracing the restriction could lead to greater flexibility.
The following morning, I finally decided to take a stab at my first home workout. I’d never been one for home workouts in the past; I’d get bored, distracted, and give up. I simply didn’t have the will to push through a workout or yoga flow without the guidance of my instructor or the motivation of the rest of the class. But, at this point, my mental health and physical wellbeing took priority. So, I finished my first Yoga Sculpt class on CorePower’s website, right in the comfort of my own bedroom.
The power that I felt from completing something that seemed so simple sparked a chain reaction. I didn’t need the motivation of a no-show fee for a class I’d signed up for, or the guidance of an in-person instructor anymore. Now that I knew that I could get through a workout on my own, I had the world of fitness available to me once more. The fact that it was truly my only option was strangely motivating.
Now, nearly a month later, I’ve been able to successfully complete a workout from home nearly every day. Sometimes yoga, other times a long walk and a pilates circuit. I’ve come to enjoy the freedom that this routine has brought me, and I feel a sense of accomplishment in conquering my mental block and pushing through my previous self-imposed limitations.
I know that once the world becomes a safe place again, I’ll return to my yoga studio and take pilates classes from my favorite instructors away from home once more. However, I imagine home workouts will continue to make up some of my fitness routine. Factors like lack of time or no studio nearby won’t be restrictions I’ll wallow about, but instead I’ll see them as just the limitations I might need to inspire creativity and flexibility. And that’s a lesson I’m glad creative writing and this quarantine have taught me.