Use These Prison Rules to Get Motivated to Workout During Quarantine

I don’t know about you but quarantine made my schedule fall to shit.

Let’s be honest.

If you have the chance to sleep in, catch up on TV shows, play video games, watch TikTok uninterrupted for hours and hours, and order food in, staying sane, motivated, and healthy is HARD.

Now imagine having all that time and NONE of those luxuries.

Well, it would be like being in prison, right?

Go to jail - Quarantine Time
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

Welcome to quarantine 2020 a prison-like state of angst and anxiety. Our sentence is undetermined and the stakes are real; declining mental and physical health. Your only crime is being deemed unessential. Boom. Convicted and sentenced. Get over it cause you can’t change it and a jailbreak is not a good idea. Ever.

So how can a mere fitness instructor bust you out?

I can’t, physically.

Sorry. Bummer, I know.

But I can help unlock your mindset, or at least give some hard knock life advice to get you moving your body more to endure the quarantine imprisonment without losing your dignity or having to buy a bigger belt.

Since I too am in the Big House, I went to the prison library, sat down at the computer and asked “The Google” how to survive my incarceration. And “The Google” did not disappoint, offering up this informative gem of a Wiki article “How To Deal with Being in Prison.” I took the liberty to add some fitness and health spin. I hope it doesn’t add more time to my sentence.

Fellow jailbirds, follow me out to the yard to contemplate the sage advice from Wiki and how we can apply it to our daily captivity.

To understand the basic rules of prison life, Wiki offers these five tips to wrap your head around as you begin your stint.

Surviving Prison Life

  1. Gain a new instinct for danger.
  2. Respect other inmates.
  3. Avoid gangs, drugs, and gambling.
  4. Steer clear of solitary confinement.
  5. Endure solitary confinement.”

1. The danger is real.

Indeed, you will need ninja moves to survive Covid-19. Grab your face mask and pour on the hand-sanitizer before you practice running serpentine on your driveway to make sure you can quickly maintain the proper 6 feet of distance at the grocery store. Set up some cones and get your cardio on. It’s deadly fun!

2. The other prisoners are in constant revolt.

Your dictatorship will fail. It will. The only chance you have to maintain control is through meditation. Yes, only in your thoughts will you have control. Besides, it’s not really that hard to get peanut butter out of the carpet. So chill.

3. Should you really avoid gangs, drugs, and gambling?

Okay, hear me out. If you can create a gang while “inside” do it – and send me pictures. Puhleezzzzzz!

3.a. As for drugs,

It may be a good time to discuss with your doctor if you’re feeling like the other inmates are out to get you, you can’t stop crying or sleeping, or sleeping too much. Some drugs are necessary and encouraged!

3.b. However, be wary of the recreational drugs.

They are meant to make you somebody’s bitch. So if you don’t have soap on a rope, you might want to skip them. Also, the munchies are coming for you regardless; why encourage those bastards?

3.c. Gambling,

on the other hand, is highly recommended. Bet how many push-ups you can do and the loser has to go to the grocery store. That’s some serious motivation to get fit.

Quarantine solitary confinement - Time Out Corner

4. The Timeout Corner is Not Only For Kids.

The timeout corner may be necessary but keep it short. Being alone “alone” is more stressful on your psyche than you may realize. But if you need a break from the other inmates, be sure to give yourself a timeout.

5. Make the most of your time out.

Go ahead and lock your self in the bathroom and read for 15 minutes, take a long shower, pamper yourself. Disconnect from anything electronic or human for a bit and breathe deeply.

Alright, you’ve now mastered the physical confinement area. Let’s look at what it’s going to take to keep you from resembling Jaba the Hut when your release day comes.

Wiki suggests 4 way to keep your body healthy:

  1. “Eat healthy.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Keep busy with activities.
  4. Deal with an illness

1. Once we all, and by “all” I mean doctors and nutritionists, accept sugar as a food group, eating healthy will be a breeze. Until then (geez, when will they get onboard with this already?), this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to learn how to food prep. Order your containers and get the inmates to work.

2. Anger, Resentment, Sadness, Denial, Acceptance – after you’ve gone through these stages and reality has set in, you’re new life in confinement needs structure. Start with 10 minute workouts to get your jump suit body feeling good. You know eventually you’re going to want to go out into the yard and you don’t want the seams to rip because then someone is going to think you’re “feeling yourself” and next thing you know you’re being forced to make face masks out of the shreds of your jumper.

3. Watch Step-Brothers and get a whole new appreciation for “activities.” There are tons of videos on how to do everything these days. Go ahead and try a workout you wouldn’t want to do in front of the general population. You know you want to dance. Zumba, it’s in your blood; you just don’t know it yet.

4. As far as being sick, well, no better time to start eating better, to try an elimination diet, and take daily walks to see if the standard basic advice improves any of your symptoms. One of the best parts of this quarantine is that you can see the doctor online if need be. No more fears of picking something else up at the office or being bored in the waiting room. Now you can be bored at home waiting for the doc to show up for your video chat.

Bam, now you’ve got your physical health under control.

But what about those of us who are struggling with ALL the emotions? In our 6”X6” head space cells, things are feeling pretty much like an out take from Tiger King and we are questioning whether we actually are complicit in the death of Carole Baskin’s husband. I mean, the tigers were so hungry and I sorta felt bad they were eating spoiled Walmart meat so it’s all starting to seem plausible that a sacrifice had to be made– Right?

Whoa, let’s step away from the Netflix and look at Wiki’s advice on staying mentally strong while under house arrest.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán

Here’s their 4 step strategy for

Staying Sane

  1. Read to empower your mind.
  2. Gain an education.
  3. Deal with depression.
  4. Manage your anger.”

1. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, in my opinion, do not count towards “reading.” Not that there isn’t good content to find on all of these platforms, but rather holding a book, turning pages, and not getting distracted with likes, comments, dings, pings, and sales on roomier yoga pants (just me?) is more relaxing for your mind. Here’s one to help with anxiety.

2. Coursera, Udemy, and whatever continuing education you can find to improve your work, find new work, or simply to enjoy learning something new are all available online for free or nearly free. Dang that Google keeps on giving.

3. Teledoc is perhaps my saving grace. Meeting with my therapist online during these stressful times has literally saved my sanity if not life. You may or may not need help with depression but know that help is available and when you check in on family, remember to suggest online counseling for anyone struggling.

4. Yes, your fellow inmates are, in fact, assholes. All of them, including the dog, are annoying AF. Don’t even get me started on the cat and her sudden desire to perform arias at 2 a.m.

Even dogs are annoying in quarantine. Yes they are!
Photo by sergio souza

Quarantine is a great time to build up your home gym so you have an escape room. Before you shiv anyone with your toothbrush, bust out your yoga mat, breathe, chant (loudly like a scream if necessary), and give your emotions a space to be let out. Refer to point 2 here and read a book on improving relationships and anger management!

We’ve covered so much ground here but now we need to get into the nitty gritty of managing ourselves in this new cell block. Pocket your shiv and come sit around the hooch filled toilet as we level up our survival behaviors.

Wiki recommends:

Learning the Code

  1. Do not trust anybody.
  2. Hide your emotions.
  3. Do not stare.
  4. Do not snitch.
  5. Be respectful to the guards.”

Let’s be real here. If you haven’t had your coffee yet and the kids haven’t eaten, it’s imperative to avoid eye contact. Keep your head down or you will be pressed into KP duty before you’re fully caffeinated; know that everyone is out for themselves and will sell you out for a Pop Tart and roll of toilet paper; never let them know they’re getting to you – all crying is done privately in the bathroom where, again, the hooch is hidden; if you catch someone face first in a bucket of ice-cream keep it on the DL cause snitches get stitches; and lastly, your spouse, parents, or adult roommates i.e. the guards running the slammer, need space too, as do the kids, so back off. That’s just basic respect.

Even lifers stay connected to the outside world.

In fact, visitor day is the most anticipated day at the pokey which means you need to update your Zoom, Facetime, Facebook Live, Snapchat, and any other social media connecting app. and communicate with the people you love.

Wiki reminds captives to keep in contact by

Communicating With Your Family

  1. Write letters and make phone calls.
  2. Do not abandon your role.
  3. Make the most of visits.”

1. Clicking “like” on your friend’s and family’s posts is nice but a virtual face-to-face will leave you feeling more connected during quarantine or perhaps grateful for the forced separation. I am not judging! For some, you may find that without the stress of actually showing up in person, dressing up, driving, and having an unforeseen end to the gathering will make the more reticent family members show up in a new way.

2. Remember too, that your kids and parents need you, even for just a five minute chat to know you’re “there.” Make the extra effort and happy hormones will rise while cortisol levels will decrease. (Hint: lower cortisol helps with weight loss).

3. These virtual meetings also give you a chance to up your public speaking talents, learn new technology, and take you out of your comfort zone. Pretty cool.

As the quarantine continues, many of our daily activities are being supplemented online…such as working out! Yes, you can have a personal trainer like ME guide you through a workout through any of these platforms too!

Ta dah! I brought this back to fitness, FINALLY.

Elyssa Hartman Virtual Personal Trainer during and after the quarantine
yup that’s me! Let’s workout

Look, I’m not handling quarantine perfectly. I eat too much. Sleep too much. Isolate too much. Blah blah blah.

I was no more prepared for confinement than anyone else and the fear and anxiety that everyone faces in such life changing circumstances is exhausting psychologically.

Don’t believe me? Read James Fell at “How Can I Be Expected to Exercise at a Time Like This?” We need more time to process our emotions and may not have the desire to workout. BUT, movement will undoubtedly make us feel better and more in control of our surroundings.

Not surprisingly, the prison gym, according to the NIH, is a pretty popular place and those who visit it frequently reap physical benefits as well as mental. So if you want to come out of confinement like Mike Tyson and not Harvey Weinstein (too soon?), schedule fitness time into your long, long, day.

I’m here on the other side of our glass window conversation ready to workout with you. Pick up that phone and let’s get started.

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