An Open Letter To The Fitness Industry During COVID-19

An Open Letter To The Fitness Industry During COVID-19

Trigger Warning: The following article discusses mental health issues that may be upsetting to some readers.

Dear Fitspo Community and Fitness Professionals,

I’m so impressed with your adaptability and positivity. You took action quickly and made your classes and workouts available online, even when the world came to a halt. I am so grateful that many of you made your programs free and selflessly offered more resources for less just so people can have access to mobility and sanity during this time. Your relentless light, joy, and commitment to your best-self are inspiring.

And I’m just not there with you. 

It’s never been easier to get access to free workouts. I’m essentially unemployed with no ability to file for unemployment, so I have unlimited time. There are 400 different live streams happening at any given moment, and even my friends who I had no idea were “into fitness” are posting motivational workouts in their newsfeed. The ratio on my newsfeed of Fitspo posts to cynical memes has doubled.

I can essentially lift one finger and have a workout plan perfectly tailored to my needs rolled out before me, even if I want to do that workout still in bed.

#noexcuses #amiright #quarantoned

And yet, I’m just not there. 

My heart is so heavy that I don’t need any strength training. I’ve been carrying heavy things daily.

My anxiety is causing me consistent night sweats, which I’m certain has some cardiovascular effects. Positive or negative remains in question.

Opening my eyes to look at my empty inbox that used to be filled with orders, collaborations, dreams, and a fruitful, growing community causes my stomach to contort so much that I’m unable to imagine food. So no need to worry about “burning calories.”

Unless you count the mass quantities of booze I’ve been consuming, which will certainly outweigh any caloric expenditure or fitness benefits.

I’m so impressed, inspired, and uplifted by those who are not turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the sensations coming up. As a yoga teacher with a once rapidly-growing events business, I am very aware of my tendencies to numb difficult sensations. I know all the tricks and the metaphors. “Breathe through the discomfort, lean into the sensations.” I’ve said these words to my students.

I know I have a responsibility to be a leader right now in this time of solitude and pain. I know I am also capable of so much light and positivity. I know I am capable of adapting and being a source of inspiration. I know it is a choice.

And I am just not there. 

I am unsure of how to care for the hearts of others while mine is slowly disintegrating like a sandcastle washing away with each new wave.

Even as someone in the “fitness industry” I don’t know how to practice what I’ve been preaching. So I prefer to not preach at all. There’s plenty of that happening on yours and my social media. So when people ask me what I haven’t rushed to post 50 online classes and host five live Zoom classes a week, that is why.

I am just not there. 

My movement is not causing me joy right now. Few things are. I do not feel qualified to educate people on how to get through this, in a time when no one has been through anything like this.

Today I went for a walk. It was the first time I’ve been outside in two days. I motivated myself with the promise of a THC Gummy and an Old Fashioned when I got home.

And it’s more than I did yesterday.

So I think that says a lot about me.

I am doing my best with the circumstances. I am deeply hurting. I’ve never dealt with anything like this. And neither have you. But I am looking at myself honestly. I am allowing myself some time to grieve. I am letting my heart do the bulk of the movement these days. 

I trust myself. There will be a day when I crawl out of this canyon. I have been deep in despair before. I have climbed out of this hole before.

We will all emerge a new kind of butterfly when all of this is done.

My cocoon just might be darker than yours.

It’s decorated with a pain and a fear that makes it hard to move through the day, let alone a workout.

I care very little for the sight of my body. For the look of its shape.

All I care about is making it to the day when my body can embrace another.

I see myself as having two paths: I can be a country singer with the stage name Melissa Leigh. Or I can be a rap goddess, and the people will call me Reck-Lyss.

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