Finding Motivation During A Pandemic

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It’s hard to believe that most of us are still living in cities/states that are still in the beginning phases of quarantine where gyms are still closed or are forced to operate under minimum occupancy with very strict guidelines (i.e mask wearing, training with a household partner or training dummy). Going from training “regularly” in the beginning of the year to not at all has taken its toll on the Jiu-Jitsu community. Some have gotten depressed, some have lost interest in it (white belts who started just prior to the pandemic), and some have increased motivation to not fall off the wagon once things go back to normal – whenever that will be.

I was awarded my black belt at the beginning of December. While training with my current work schedule (10-hour grave yard shifts) and running a business on the side was extremely difficult, I made it work. Prior to getting my black belt, I was having fun training and improving for no other reason than the fact that for the first time in almost 8 years of training, I could be selfish and train for myself. I wasn’t training for competition or training to prepare for teaching every week, but rather, to improve on the things that I wanted to work on at my own pace.

Then Covid-19 hit and we were forced into quarantine with no idea of what was happening or when things would go back to normal again. Like many others in the grappling community and other sports, I got depressed and lost all motivation to train even though I already had mats at home and a partner to train with. It wasn’t until a month later that I went to the doctor for a routine blood test that I found out some of my levels were off and that I needed to adjust my diet and exercise. If that wasn’t a huge motivator, I don’t know what it would have taken for me to find the fire again but since then, I’ve found the following helpful in staying motivated to train and/or get in shape:

Find a training partner that will keep you accountable. Whether it is working out together in person or virtually, it helps having someone to share breaking sweat with and having a cheerleader when you need it. This also means joining virtual classes at your academy even if you don’t want to do it. Sometimes seeing familiar faces and moving in familiar ways will spark motivation.

Change things up. The best thing that I did was to not just focus on BJJ, but to include strength and conditioning into my weekly workouts. This is something that I didn’t do because I was solely focused on getting all of my exercise needs through BJJ. My friend in Hawaii is a personal trainer who started his own company selling booty bands for lower body/glute workouts. He would post workouts online and also include a month free of personal training utilizing the bands and body weight exercises. Once I started seeing gains from these workouts, that was really all of the motivation I needed to stick with it. I feel a lot stronger and not really being savvy with exercise techniques, it really sparked a lot of interest in learning how to do these strength and conditioning exercises the correct way.

Remember that this isn’t forever. At some point, we will go back to the same routines as we did before. We will get to train BJJ again in the same way that we are used to and we will get better. In the meantime, focus on what you can do to keep a healthy lifestyle. Summer is the perfect time to get outside. So go walk, bike, hike, swim, surf… whatever it takes to keep you sane during these unprecedented times. Additionally, while this will not last forever, in order to make sure you will have an academy to return to, please support your academies to keep them open.

We’re all in this together so stay safe, sane, and healthy!

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