Pregnancy, parenthood and a pandemic: How to get out of shape

My mother laughed at me.

The woman who was my very first support system in life, who always had my back on this complicated road that brought me to fatherhood … she laughed when, early into the pregnancy, I mentioned that I planned to maintain my regular workout routine after the twins were born.

Why couldn’t I, though?

The martial arts gym where I’ve gone four or five times a week for Muay Thai is a short walk from our apartment. Classes are only one hour long. A couple of days each week, I have the choice to do either an early-morning class or an evening class.

With Taylisha at home on maternity leave for the first few months, plus my father and my aunt living just a few minutes away, I could definitely carve out a few hours per week for Muay Thai.

We also had an elliptical machine at home, a fitness center in our apartment building, and plenty of space for whatever home workout I could imagine.

Staying in shape wouldn’t be a problem, I thought, even with two newborns.

My mother, having had three children herself and having witnessed my sister and my brother go through their experiences with two kids each, knew what was coming. That’s why she laughed.

And then COVID-19 came along.

When the state shut down my gym, I tried to keep up with the Zoom training sessions the Muay Thai instructors put on.

After a few at-home workouts, the Zoom sessions started to conflict with doctor’s appointments as we got closer to giving birth.

The fitness center in our building was eventually closed to help combat the pandemic.

All of that open space in the apartment started to get swallowed up by baby stuff.

In an effort to create some more room, we decided to get rid of the elliptical.

Then after the twins were born and we brought them home, even more space in the apartment was taken up by baby stuff.

Next thing I know, it had been months since I’d had a really good workout. There was no space, no time, and often no motivation. The sleep deprivation everyone warns new parents about is real, and it’s really real with twins. Given the rare block of free time to either workout or take a nap … I’m probably taking a nap.

But I’m not going down that easy.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a kickboxing heavy bag that I could set up on the patio. I haven’t used it every day or as much as I originally planned, but I get out there and work on it for hour-long sessions every few days.

I try to make little fitness games for myself. For example, at some point during every waking hour of the day, I’ll knock out 20 push-ups and 20 crunches. But with everything going on, I often forget.

The fitness center in the apartment is still closed, but my gym has reopened. However, I haven’t been back yet.

While the selfish side of me is eagerly wanting to get in there and get back to practicing the martial art I’ve come to love with the gym buddies who have become friends, the responsible parent side of me knows I probably shouldn’t risk the health of my newborns like that.

I went ahead and bought some adidas face masks that are great for working out (very breathable and durable), and I’m hoping to at least drop by the gym to train solo during non-class time twice a week.

Recently, I texted one of my Muay Thai instructors and left it at, “If things go according to plan, I’ll be at open gym on Friday and/or Saturday.”

I didn’t make it.

Because, as I’m finding out, things rarely go according to plan these days.

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