“If you commit to doing a class, it will give you a sense of accomplishment.” Ian Pienaar of Thrive fitness boutique, Hout Bay, Cape Town, talking about the importance of exercise during lockdown.

Pacing with the Kitchen El Camino during lockdown

During the first ten days of lockdown in South Africa, my work-out regime consisted of pacing while chatting on what’s app [five steps forward and five back – also called the Kitchen El Camino] and walking to the shops for essential items.

I have always loved group exercise. The commitment to making time to do classes is part of it. More importantly, it is about enjoying the interaction with others – grunting and sweating together. Over the years, I have done group classes in church and community halls, home studios, and chain gyms –according to what I could afford and what suited me in terms of time.

A solo-work out session is not my idea of fun. When lockdown clicked in, I clocked out from exercise.

Performance anxiety

Immobilised by lockdown work-out diaries, I went through severe performance anxiety. Reading about the breath-taking achievements of others and all I could do was gasp.

A person that I know, did a two and half hour work-out AND wrote a new song, a film script, a synopsis for a TV series, hosted a webinar– all by 2pm.  That was topped up by a gourmet home cooked picnic on the balcony; while gazing at the sunset; followed by yoga and meditation and writing it all up in a gratitude journal which has been posted on her blog.

There were tales of triple threated yoga, extreme tread-milling, blindfolded hop-scotch and a trampoline maze in Bergvliet (don’t ask).

Lockdown work-outs

Here are some of the work-out modules which fed into my performance anxiety. Readers from outside of South Africa may be flummoxed by the names of places. Yes, we have a Delft and it is not in Holland.

✔Innovation: A paddling exercise rigging in a swimming pool using elastic belts to keep fit for surfing, Kommetjie.

✔Romance: Tandem bicycle riding in patch of garden, Noordhoek

✔Inspiriration: Yoga on a bed in a house in Delft by a man who is paralysed from the waist down. [The story is on TheCapeRobyn about Sisa Makaula.He is a man of grit and determination. The point is that I was having trouble motivating myself and yet here is a person who makes no excuses –despite physical challenges and shocking challenges due to his financial circumstances. He doesn’t have access to high speed internet and is battling to feed his family during lockdown. He is not safe. Read the story. Link: https://thecaperobyn.co.za/tribute-sisa-makaula-arts-activist-delft-cape-town/]

❌ Epic fail: Cycling the plank; cycling on a wooden ramp –in an unnamed location. The plank broke in half. Man in lycra went overboard. Yes, there was blood and the man admits: “It is very sore” [edited for publication]. TheCapeRobyn is in possession of photo evidence [captured by wife] but has agreed to remain shtum in the interest of long-term friendship.

Thrive online

Moving along, I was at my wits end from group exercise withdrawal and reached out to Lydia Hannan. I told her how much I miss her Pilates classes and asked her how she was doing in lockdown. She immediately messaged that she is involved in teaching online classes during lockdown, via zoom through Thrive in Hout Bay and that the classes are FREE. She said that Thrive – a boutique fitness studio – wants to “give back to the community” and give people the opportunity to keep fit, without the stress of paying.

I was saved. Truly. I still pace but only after I have watched the 8pm news and digested the latest Covid-19 statistics.

Jokes aside, these classes have been an absolute tonic and panacea. I was intrigued to find out that in addition to Lydia Hannan, some of my favourite teachers are involved with the Thrive lockdown classes -such as Nurit Graaf and Zumba legend, Franco Human.

Impressive that Thrive is offering classes for free during the pandemic. These are top professionals who are making a huge contribution to physical and mental wellbeing, during a time when we need it.

There is a huge amount of work-out material on the internet. However, much of what is on offer is not great and some of it is led by unskilled operators – who have no idea what they are doing.

The Thrive classes are great because they are interactive. Lydia Hannan “talks” to those participating – reeling off their names. Nurit Graaf breaks into song as she does in “normal” class. She is a veteran musical theatre performer. Teachers acknowledge names of people they know and welcome people from countries, outside South Africa.  It feels like one is in a class. The classes are on Zoom and run between 30 to 40 minutes. One can do more than one session.

I think that Thrive’s lockdown FREE class programme is worthy of a major shout-out, so I put questions to owner Ian Pienaar about this wonderful initiative. This is not a paid for promotional post. I am saying thank you to team Thrive for making these classes available -at no charge. They are being kind, caring and generous. We thank you.

Ian Pienaar speaks provides insights into Thrive and the importance of exercise during lockdown

About the studio

Thrive – “a boutique fitness studio” was established a year ago – March 2019 and is headed up by a Ian Pienaar and Lydia Hannan (timetable and events) and others. The focus is on “experience led group exercise classes’, says Pienaar. It is about the personal. This is not big gym where no-one knows your name.

Ian Pienaar:  “We know every person’s name. It is the soft touches – before and during after class. It is the quality of how our classes are presented. It is the quality of music and the quality of the facility and the exercise programming we put together. Work-outs are never the same. We keep them interesting and fun.”

Online free classes during the pandemic- commitment

Ian Pienaar: “The whole idea of having online classes during lockdown is to build community. If you book for a class, it will give you a sense of commitment. Once you sign up and commit to a class it will give you a better chance of doing the class.   In lockdown, on a day to day basis, that is important. In lockdown, you can go through your day and not really be doing anything and not feeling great because you haven’t done anything.

The body doesn’t like to sit still. During lockdown, you are trapped in your house. You sleep a lot more. You are not as active as usual. Your body is getting more tense. It becomes like a spiral effect. You feel worse and worse- having less and less energy, negative thoughts. It is therefore important for the body to move so that endorphins can be released so that you can feel a lot better. In the evening, you will sleep better. Overall if your body fees better – moving staying fit- your energy levels will be better and you will feel much better.”

Accomplishment

Ian Pienaar: “If you commit to doing a class, it will give you a sense of accomplishment. And because we are doing yoga classes and mindfulness classes, we can help you to switch off. If you do the combination of hard physical work and mindfulness/mind/body classes that will help deal with the stress and function as per normal. From our philosophy at Thrive, not just lockdown, we want people to feel better. Work-outs are there for propel to feel better. Results will be achieved once people enjoy their workouts. That fir us is the main thing – that people feel better- that they feel good.”

Post lock down

Ian Pienaar: “Going forward post lockdown, we are looking at continuing with online classes. All contracts will be fifty percent less, for new people and for existing client base.”

Donate button during lockdown– if one wants

Ian Pienaar: “We are looking at adding a donate button – if people do want to make a donation – as many people have indicated that they want to do this. This will help with our costs and will enable us to donate to charities in Hout Bay.”

The classes are free and will remain so during lockdown. The donate option is just for those who want to make a contribution. No pressure.