It’s true that even the biggest social butterflies enjoy a weekend in to decompress. But what happens when that single weekend turns into several months without an end date in sight? 

With the fast-developing coronavirus crisis in the United States and beyond forcing many people to stay at home, that has become our new reality. People are learning to adjust to doing everything from home, including working, socializing, and trying to stay active. 

Less than two weeks into stay-at-home orders across the country, people may be feeling the effects of staying put on their bodies. In New York City, where so many people live in small apartments, access to gyms, workout classes, and group outdoor activities are sorely missed. During this time where good health is prioritized, how can we work out when we shouldn’t be leaving our home? 

Fordham News spoke with Jenny Mendez, a yoga instructor at Rose Hill, about the best ways to stay active while homebound. Mendez has been working with Fordham staff and students since 2018, and more recently with student-athletes, teaching them yoga and mindful moving techniques in a therapeutic fashion.

What do you think is the best way for students and staff to practice staying active at this time that they’re all homebound?

I think the best way is to slip it in your schedule or into your day. They have to eat, they have to do homework, or tune into a lesson online. I think just scheduling a workout is important, and just holding yourself accountable until it becomes a necessary part of your daily activity.

What is the best way for people in small spaces to stay active?

I was thinking about what they can do with their natural surroundings. One thing they can do that’s easy and requires no equipment is dance. If you like to go out dancing, just dance around. That’s a really great way to get your heart rate up. It’s a great way for you to sweat. It’s a great way for you to release stress. It’s a great way for you to just help kind of take your mind off of what’s happened. It’s also a great way for you to learn a new dance. You could search YouTube if you want, and there’s lots of great things happening on TikTok. Dance is a natural form of working out. You’re moving your whole body, you’re moving your joints, and it’s fun. 

Another thing that you could do if dance isn’t your thing, you could just do your own body-weight workout using your body, no weights. A very simple thing that requires no weights is a pushup. You could do planks, shoulder taps, squats. These really low-impact things that you can do using body weight help build strength and build up for sweat.

If you wanted to do more, you can make it more high-impact. You could do cardio, lunges, burpees, jumping jacks, all of these different things. And then when you have a list of things that you can jump off of, you can start to get really creative and create your own sequence. There’s no right or wrong and as long as you move for… I would say 15 minutes, maybe schedule that move two to four times a day, and that would be sufficient. Or you could do something for a longer period of time, maybe 30 minutes, maybe 45 minutes, or one hour, once a day.

Are there any online resources that you would recommend?

I’m currently hosting free virtual wellness events for the Fordham community via Zoom. I’m also offering free online yoga and fitness classes via Instagram Live, where you can view my full online teaching schedule. Donations, although not necessary, are very much appreciated!

There’s lots of great material on YouTube, on Instagram TV. There’s also some online platforms that are offering a free 30 day membership to their online content. Exhale is one of them. I actually worked for Exhale in the barre fitness studios—so, they have free online barre classes, cardio classes, HIIT classes.

Yoga on YouTube—I like Yoga with Adriene. I think that her content is accessible, it’s easy, it’s simple. I also like Briohny Smyth, and she’s also a yoga instructor.

How can we use this time at home to also practice mindfulness?

In order to find balance too, you want to sort of explore the other point of it. And I guess, coming from a yoga point of view, it’s a really great way to be really contemplative, right? To be still, to kind of sit with yourself, to listen to the quiet inside, and what it says when given a chance to speak.

I think up until this point, all of us, including myself, are busy people. We are always on the go, go, go. We’re always thinking like five steps ahead, we’re always looking into the future and thinking, what’s next? So hardly do we ever get a chance to be still, and to sit, and to listen. And I think that not only is it important for us to move and to move mindfully, but it’s also a great opportunity to be still and just kind of contemplate, and to connect with people over the phone, maybe write a letter. Things that we don’t do anymore. Things that we might take for granted. Because I think in the time of crisis, it always provides clarity on what really matters. I think that is also important too.