Life in Lockdown-Barcelona

Spain will start to move through a series of 4 phases before arriving at the so called ‘New Normality’. Some regions have moved from Phase 0 to Phase 1 this week but it looks like Barcelona isn’t ready. It confirms that the situation is far from over and we will have to be patient waiting for each phase of easing restrictions. Guidelines have been published of what each phase should look like and the statistics needed to achieve each progression to the next one. However they are all subject to change and delay. The impact on society continues to evolve and we don’t really know how long or short term these effects will be.

It’s been really interesting to see the effect of the lockdown on people I know here. Some friends that seemingly weren’t too fussed about being outdoors and exercise have now started doing home workouts and take full advantage of being allowed to get out for walks every day. Others have almost lost the motivation to leave their flat. I’ve seen the analogy that the easing of lockdown restrictions can give people a feeling of being let out of jail and not being quite sure of how things stand now that you’re ‘out’. We’ve been housebound for so long that it can feel stranger to be outside that continuing to stay at home. With the current time slot system it can definitely feel overwhelming to suddenly share the streets with so many people. To be honest even the timeslot system is a stark reminder that we’re still under a high level of control.

Food delivery services such as Glovo and Deliveroo were already gaining great popularity before lockdown and you can now spot one passing every minute from the balcony. With 1 in 4 bars/restaurants not expected to re-open after the lockdown, we will also see how those who do manage to open get on after people have become so used to the convenience of ordering at home. Again I think we’ll see a big split of those who will be excited to go out again and those who don’t really see why they’d leave the sofa for their sushi fix. Or indeed, still can’t take the risk due to their high risk status. For every born again home baker whipping up their latest banana bread concoction, there is another alternating between working their way through their pasta stash and picking up the takeaway menu.

I think it’s important to state here that I’m only observing various trends without making any judgement or opinion. I’m just outlining various aspects of lockdown life that I’ve noticed in my own change of routines or friends and family. There are so many elements of life that are difficult or impossible to control at the moment and it’s also true that any easing of restrictions will have little effect on those who are at high risk. If anything any easing of restrictions may seem even more daunting than a strict lockdown as they will have to continue to limit their lives for the foreseeable future.

I have definitely been given an insight into the coach potato lifestyle in the last couple of months. It’s no news to my friends that I’ve only seen a handful of films (disproportionate number of rom-coms and the odd adventure story) and I think I’ve boosted this statistic by a few hundred percent in lockdown. I can actually join in a Netflix conversation because there’s a much higher chance than usual that I’ve seen the series. Between being technology adverse, working evenings or being away sailing I tend to be pretty out of the loop and although it’s been fun catching up I definitely don’t want to keeping spending so many evenings glued to the telly.

It’s no secret that Amazon has been a big winner in the current situation however a promising trend I’ve seen among friends has been to try and help small businesses where possible. My flatmate commissioned a caricature portrait for his brother’s birthday to support a local tattoo artist, friends have bought homemade masks and researched local businesses that are now providing a delivery or pick up service. Spain has generally maintained a culture of small shops and businesses to a much greater extent than the UK in recent years and I really hope the lockdown doesn’t have a devastating impact on this.

The fitness industry has also adapted very inventively to the lockdown, especially as I would argue that it’s a concept that many people thought the physical act of going to the gym or attending a class in person was essential to their motivation. Personal trainers are continuing their private classes over video call and teachers are holding group classes on Instagram Live.

This Live method ensure a few motivational boxes are ticked, you need to attend the class on time (even if you can watch the reply later) so don’t have to test your willpower to decide when you will start and you have the feeling of connection and working out with people. Many trainers are encouraging either simple equipment that can be easily substituted with household items or no equipment at all.

I’ve been really enjoying online workouts, I’ve gone through phases of trying them before but never reached any level of consistency. I credit the Live workout formula with this success, I’ve been following a Barcelona based Pilates instructor for the whole lockdown period and it’s become a nice edition to my attempt at creating a bit of a routine. She publishes a timetable each Monday so you can visualise the week and the evening workouts are a great way to round off the day.

 I unsuccessfully tried to order some fitness equipment weeks ago to replace my slippery, holey mat and add some dumbbells to my kit so I’ve been clinging on to jars of chickpeas like everyone else. So far so good! If nothing else I’m developing a strong claw like grip and toes of steel as I attempt to stay in place in downward facing dog.

Again, I’m unsure as to how this will pan out after lockdown. There may be an element of proving that paying for the gym and only going in the first week of your membership was totally pointless. At the same time I would say for me at least I’ve really seen the value of classes and researching different ideas for training rather than winging it by running and occasionally trying random workouts. I’m used to a much more naturally active lifestyle and don’t usually have to think too much about how much movement I incorporate into my day.

I really hope this period may have encouraged people who hadn’t really thought exercise was something that interested them.  They may have tried out different forms of exercise through online classes that they may not have previously been exposed to and are motivated to continue. The luxury of so many free activities takes the pressure off and means you can try something new more easily.

You are highly unlikely to maintain any habit you don’t enjoy and planning activities you actually look forward to is a much better recipe for success. People have started following trainers because they feel personally motivated by them and enjoy feeling more directed. This is mimicking some of the aspects of having a personal trainer who gives you a plan to achieve your goals. The plan isn’t totally personalised to you but ideas you can adapt to your needs.

Education has obviously been hit hard by the lockdown restrictions. I had actually done a few English classes via Skype at students’ requests over the years but had honestly never really imagined conducting all my classes online. Especially with dodgy platforms and computers freezing, although it was undeniably convenient in terms of lack of travel, it hadn’t really appealed to me to make the switch from face-to-face. This opinion was obviously influenced by my general incompetence with technology.

However the technology has definitely moved on and I’ve been really impressed by the platforms to teach kids. It’s a totally interactive experience with games, songs, drawing and stories to make the classes as engaging as possible. I’ve even reactivated Snapchat to make ‘educational’ videos for the kids using different filters and effects. I admit that the superimposing my face onto a skiing waffle video (pre-set filter, I can’t take the credit) or the dog with a pizza on her face were primarily for comedy value, however I’m quite proud of the video miming ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ with dog ears and explaining the weather with the accompanying effects in the background.

It makes the idea of teaching private conversation classes to adults online seem like a breeze compared to rushing around the city from coffee shop to students’ houses. You can’t totally recreate the face-to-face element through the computer and I do miss walking around between classes but it’s inefficient for the student and the teacher. I was teaching more and more locally for most classes but if I had thought to do a few of the further away classes online it would have really helped.

I know both the current and future impacts of the lockdown are far too all-encompassing for a quick blog post to skim over but I wanted to share a few of my observations focussed on the food, health & fitness, lifestyle and education sectors that I’m currently experiencing. I hope everyone is keeping well and sane!

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