My 5-year-old is crying. He doesn’t want to sit through another Zoom math lesson with his teacher; he wants to sit in class with his teacher. My 1-year-old is suspiciously quiet in a corner of our 700-square-foot Brooklyn apartment. He has taken off his diaper, dipped his pudgy little fingers into its contents, and used them to “paint” on a wall. My partner is at work at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, I have three deadlines looming and one past due, and I haven’t left my apartment in two weeks.
This probably goes without saying: I’m losing it.
Under normal circumstances, I would take a walk, meet a girlfriend for happy hour as soon as my partner returned home, or head to the gym to pick up heavy things or run in place or hop on a stationary bike for an extended period of time. But this is COVID-19’s world now and we’re all just living in it — circumstances are far from normal. So when the chaos of our altered lives swirls around me, and I’m one toddler-tantrum or Kindergartener-breakdown away from losing my you-know-what, I turn to the one workout that has managed to keep me sane.
P.volve, a high-intensity, low-impact at-home workout regimen, has become my go-to stress reliever while in lockdown. And not only has P.volve given me the opportunity to move my body in a way that is usually not possible in my tiny two-bedroom apartment, its focus on the mind-body connection has helped me get back to neutral, find my center, and stay grounded as my family continues to shelter-in-place.
In a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, 49% fear they’ll never get their “pre-COVID” body back (which, in my opinion, makes it sound as if their bodies are disappearing or fleeing the country, never to be seen from again). There are endless COVID-19 weight gain memes online, targeted ads hawking weight-loss products, and a plethora of “how to keep the quarantine weight off” articles. Problematic fat-shaming and the continued perpetuation of unrealistic body types and unhealthy eating and workout habits aside, the focus on weight loss during lockdown overlooks a far more important aspect of more Americans becoming sedentary: our mental health.
A reported 54% of mothers say COVID-19 has worsened their mental health, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey. I am one of those mothers. Becoming a faux teacher overnight, working 60 or more hours a week from home, cooking and cleaning more frequently, and caring for my young children simultaneously has been overwhelming, to say the very least. And without the release of physical activity — not to mention the community one can find and revel in at the gym or a spin class or a yoga studio — there are days when I feel like I’m drowning.
So on those days, I turn to P.volve, which was originally recommended to me by a friend who is well aware of the restraints of my apartment. And now it’s my go-to workout. It doesn’t require any weights or heavy equipment, just 30 or so minutes of my time, my laptop, and living room floor cleared of my children’s toys. The instructor is positive, informative, and encouraging. At one point she says, “You’re really getting stronger, right? We’re not letting this lockdown hold us down.” And while I’m normally not one for excessively uplifting platitudes, shout outs that focus on my strength over my body shape, while acknowledging the challenges we all face at this moment, are exactly what I need to hear on those difficult days.
Focusing on strength, isometrics, and stretching — with an emphasis on one’s core — this workout provides me a chance to get back in touch with myself — something that’s difficult to accomplish when I’m being pulled in a variety of directions with no reprieve. Not only has this workout made me feel stronger and toned, it has rebuilt my mental strength and given me something tangible to focus on and work through. There is so much we cannot control right now, but when my legs start to burn and my arms start to shake, I can focus on pushing through and feel powerful, capable, and accomplished when I do. It’s not nothing. Some days, it’s everything.
LIke a large number of Americans, I was skeptical about at-home workouts. But not only are the workouts challenging (at the end of every session, I feel it), but an added bonus I couldn’t have foreseen is how excited my children get when mom “puts her P.volve on.” Not only have they become accustomed to my at-home workout schedule, they’ve started working out with me. (OK, so the 1-year-old just jumps up and down, crawls on my back, and contorts his tiny body so his butt is in the air, but I think that counts.) To have a workout that has become paramount to my continued mental health double as a family activity has given me a parenting “win” — and the value of that honestly can’t be measured right now.
I still have challenging days. My son still doesn’t want to sit through another e-learning session and my 1-year-old Huidi still finds a way to take off his spoiled diapers. But on those days, I know I can turn to a P.volve workout, move my body, watch with joy as my children do the same, and remember that while I am needed by my family now more than ever, I matter, too.
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