The Return to Routine

It’s been 5 weeks since the kids went back to school and I returned to my old workout routine. Despite my efforts to stay active and work out at home during MCO, CMCO, and RMCO, I felt a significant drop in fitness – especially stamina. I feel like a newbie starting back. Either that or all my instructors have come out of MCO with a vengeance. I’d like to think it is the latter.


Over 5 weeks, I covered:

  • 14 Aug – Spin
  • 15 Aug – Rest
  • 16 Aug – Virtual Boxing
  • 17 Aug – Easy Walk
  • 18 Aug – Pilates Reformer
  • 19 Aug – Spin
  • 20 Aug – Spin
  • 21 Aug – Pilates Reformer
  • 22 Aug – Waterrower
  • 23 Aug – Virtual Boxing
  • 24 Aug – Just Dance
  • 25 Aug – Pilates Reformer; Spin
  • 26 Aug – Boxing
  • 27 Aug – Virtual PT
  • 28 Aug – Spin
  • 29 Aug – Spin
  • 30 Aug – Rest
  • 31 Aug – Spin
  • 1 Sep – Rest
  • 2 Sep – Boxing
  • 3 Sep – Live PT
  • 4 Sep – Pilates Reformer; Spin
  • 5 Sep – Waterrower
  • 6 Sep – Virtual Boxing
  • 7 Sep – Hike; Spin
  • 8 Sep – Spin
  • 9 Sep – Pilates Barre
  • 10 Sep – Live PT
  • 11 Sep – Pilates Reformer; Spin
  • 12 Sep – Just Dance
  • 13 Sep – Virtual Boxing
  • 14 Sep – Rest
  • 15 Sep – B2B Spin
  • 16 Sep – Virtual Boxing
  • 17 Sep – Boxing
  • 18 Sep – Spin
  • 19 Sep – Advance Boxing

Not exactly with a vengeance (I’ve definitely gone harder than this when I was training for Spartan), but intense enough. Or so I felt. I even upped the ante with a back to back Spin class and the Advance Boxing class in the last week. They nearly killed me. My legs feel pretty broken. I think about the Spartan Trifecta weekend we were supposed to complete this year and I can feel my knees trembling in fear.


Getting on the bike was the one thing I did not do when I was in MCO. My cardio training consisted of rowing, dancing, and shadow boxing (once or twice a week). Rowing and dancing aren’t cardio-intense enough. They’re great for getting a calorie burn, and decent for maintaining some level of fitness, but they don’t do much to improve stamina.


Shadow boxing is the most cardio intense of the activities I did at home. Even so, it is more upper body focused. I don’t feel that it translated well to maintaining cycling stamina. When I got back on the bike, I crashed and burned after the second song. Like the time I went rock climbing after a 10 year hiatus, the mind was completely boggled by why the body wasn’t performing the way it remembered. My legs fatigued quickly and my heart felt ready to explode.

I come to every class wanting to ride faster and push harder; to quickly reclaim what I lost. But some days, the enervation is so encompassing that my mind shuts down and my body refuses to cooperate. I wonder how my mind got so soft that it lets my body take control. Why am I not able to suppress the discomfort and press on? Why does the bike feel so heavy on a low resistance? Why do my legs give out before the double time is out?

As the weeks pass by, I noticed the odd workout that I’ve been struggling with that suddenly feels just a little bit easier than before. I also notice the days when a heavy and troubled mind weakens my body. When the mind is fatigued from worry, the body feels lassitude. My progress moves with peaks and troughs – there are better days and not so good days. I have to remind myself that progress is a not a steady climb upward. It is a meandering path that sometimes feels like taking three steps forward, two steps back.

The other thing about progress is that there are plateaus and leaps. I learned this a long time ago when I was a rock climber complaining about my lack of improvement despite the hours I poured into the practice of honing my craft. Two weeks later, I free-pointed my first 6C+ route.

Sometimes it feels like you’re stuck in a rut and you can’t seem to break the barrier into the next level. After a while of what feels like zero progress, there is a leap of improvement that almost feels like it came out of the blue. Except it didn’t. It came from steady practice; the commitment to keep going. While it is good to have a destination in mind, don’t get distracted by it. Focus on the journey and taking the next step, and the next step, and the next step, and the next step…


As much as I enjoyed my virtual shadow boxing classes, I must say that there is nothing quite so satisfying as the feel of my glove connecting with a bag. It’s therapeutic – a place to lay out all my weekly annoyances without the repercussions of actually breaking something.


Unfortunately, it seems everything has gotten soft. Shadow boxing doesn’t maintain the calluses on my knuckles. First class back and I ripped the skin over my third knuckle. Even my arms were not used to the beating the bag gave back to me. I felt winded like I’d been in a fight with an opponent. I felt as crappy boxing as I did spinning. I think back to the days when I did back to back spinning and boxing and I can’t figure out how I managed it.

I haven’t hit the bag quite as hard as the bike (9 classes vs 14 classes), but I did manage to get back into one Advance Boxing class. My punches are weaker; my third knuckle is complaining (it sticks out further than the others); and my quick feet punches leave a lot to be desired. I confess that I felt a little undeserving to be in an advance class. There was also a whole lot of trepidation stepping into class; probably even a “what am I doing here?” flying through my mind on occasion.

The only good thing I have to say is that I made it through the class without collapsing onto the floor. Neither did I throw up – so that’s got to be a positive. I made it through with what I felt was a decent amount of effort. And the euphoria coming out of an advance class is, well, next level business.


I’ve come to the conclusion that a little bit of fear going into a class is good. It means it’s challenging. You know you’re pushing your limits when you feel a little scared of the class you’re going into – because you know it’s going to be a hard class. So yeah, even if it’s a class that’s beyond me, I will still take it. Even if I’m not keeping up, that’s fine. It just means I have a whole lot more to work towards. The mountain may be higher and the journey longer, but you know for sure that the view is going to be magnificent.


Pilates is another workout that I haven’t been doing much of during MCO. I took one or two online classes at the start, but that was it. Coming back to the reformer was a lot harder than I remembered. That said, I ought to have expected it because I started Pilates as a true noob. The classes that I came back to feel like a new level up from when I last attended. My 2.0 classes have definitely levelled up.

The purpose of Pilates for me has always been to stretch out my muscles. Pilates is like the counter-workout that provides balance to all my high intensity workouts.

Live PT

The big difference between Live and Virtual PT is the weight. Now that I have access to the gym, my PT can pile on the weights (versus the 3kg dumbbells I have at home). The sessions are also slightly longer – 15 minutes more. Yes, it doesn’t sound like much more but it certainly feels it.

Fitness Achievers

It’s always hard to gauge my progress with PT because every session is designed to push my limits. If I could feel it getting easier, it means my PT isn’t doing his job. But since it feels hard every time, I don’t know if I’m better or worse. That said, the reason I started doing PT was to prepare myself for the obstacles in a Spartan Race. Now that I’m not training for a race, the reason I keep doing PT is to maintain muscle and bone mass. Muscle because it’s the thing that preserves my mobility as I grow older. Bone because it helps prevent osteoporosis which runs in my family.

Coming back to live PT also means getting back on the body composition scales. I’m glad to report that I have managed to maintain weight, body fat and muscle mass. At an age where everything is declining, maintenance is progress, too. Age-related weight gain is estimated at 0.5kg a year – if I can hold that off, I think I’m doing pretty okay.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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