Self-Isolation, Working Out, Working From Home, and Chronic Pain

Greetings! Elizabeth Pongo here, sending you all of my love and powerful Pongo vibes as we enter this pivotal time.

I am writing to share my vulnerabilities with you; and the breakthroughs in my fears that I've learned from this week...

I want you to know, first and foremost: Pongo Power is not going away.  We are here for you, at the ready! Yes, it has been a very hard week. At the same time, we've been so touched (not literally... social distancing is real) by how committed you are to be strong, healthy, and to maintain your mobility and flexibility.

We are seeing that you, our amazing community members who are training online, are actually going to get stronger. You're learning how to workout at home, and how to keep yourselves safe. We all need to engage our postural integrity and core-strength (that comes from within), now, more than ever before.

Here are my reflections from these 5 days.

Now that we are all protecting one another through social distancing, my dream of becoming a cyborg CEO has come true.

And how am I going to physically handle it?

I've often joked that it took me building two gyms to get into shape. Now I need to stay home, for the good of everyone.

Did I skip my workout Day 1 of this 14-day self-isolation? No. Did I skip on Days 2 and 3? Yes. Are my hip flexors starting to hurt, along with a dash of neck-tension and a bit of creaky-ness when I stand up and walk around? You betcha. 

This pandemic has me reflecting upon and examining my habitual thoughts about health and fitness when I am at home.

Pongo Power, as a personal training practice, is rooted in the knowledge that grew from my own anatomical, structural issues, along with my childhood trauma.

We provide workout design by observing our clients’ tight and weak muscles in motion.  And we deliver the necessary adjustments to their form and technique movement during movement. 

We have clients who have autoimmune diseases, chronic conditions like Crohns Disease, total knee replacements, have survived car accidents; among many other conditions.  

Our brand promise is to keep our exercisers safe! So, yes, our doors are closed now, as we refuse to bring corvid-19 to you. But are we going away? No! We are moving our entire training practice online so that our community can grow stronger. 

Structurally, I have a profound scoliosis. My spine is like a spiral staircase in my body. It is very important that I exercise to maintain my core strength, balance, and coordination.

Being in front of a screen more often this week requires that I do not resort to poor posture (like forward head and rounding shoulders) and end up, back in pain again. 

Psychologically, my physiology is impacted by growing up in a home with a few emotional issues (read: my mom had a nervous breakdown, and my dad drank scotch and beer almost every night). As a result, I learned how to disassociate from my body, and ignore my issues.

As a teenager, I developed an eating disorder (ED,) bulimia, as a coping mechanism. In college when I tried to give up the ED cold-turkey without any therapy, my migraine headaches kicked in, and my chronic pain cycle began. I healed from my ED at age 30. However, my Mind-Body Syndrome is absolutely something to be responsible for, each and every day. Yes, I wish I had my own Pongo Power personal trainer to get into a Zoom workout session with me! 

Here are the thoughts that keep me from exercising even though I own two gyms! These are the fears that I must address, even before COVID-19 and the social distancing of 2020. 

ED Familiar Feelings and Thoughts:

  • Rebellion - why do I have to exercise? It won’t make a difference

  • Fear - I’m afraid, so I simply won’t do it

  • Self-loathing and hatred  - I’m not worthy

  • Doubt  - This is a waste of time

  • Boredom - I’d rather be doing something else

  • Disassociation - My hip hurts, so I shouldn’t do this

  • Distraction - I need to watch Rocky 3, he was out of shape and got his butt kicked, too.

And so I take one day at a time. And, somehow, I completed five Olympic-distance Triathlons throughout the USA in 2019, and somehow I ran three NYC Marathons. I’ll (hopefully) survive this pandemic because I deal with my fear and I help other people to conquer their own fears every day.

The fear is just my brain, repeating endless loops. What keeps me going is the knowledge of what it’s like when I’m pain-free, healthy, and in motion.

While I know first hand the life-changing benefits of proper exercise, I, too, find myself in a mental battleground. How do I combat this? I have others to hold me accountable.

I have created a lifestyle that forces me to be active. Having my wonderful dog, Sascha, who needs to be walked 3 times per day, owning 2 gyms, get my friends and family into exercise and living in the city all form to create an accountability system for me! Funny how that works, huh?

Since this pandemic has hit, I know that now, more than ever, I must dig into my toolbox and use my knowledge and experience to get myself moving and exercising.

I will work out with my partner at home or schedule a Virtual Training session with a Pongo Power trainer so that I can feel good in my body and connected to others.

This is the time when we need each other more than ever. We are all in this together.

To learn more about our Virtual Training Programs, fill out the form below:

Showing 2 comments
  • Stuart Garber

    Elizabeth – I was moved when I read this a week ago, and meant to write then – and and even more moved as I read it again now. I love the way you put your own inner journey and process here – feel the fear and resistance AND gather support to make healthy choices – again and again and again. And the way that you’ve taken all of that and built something that helps inspire the same in others? Bravo to you, once again, my friend!

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