To say 2020 has been a pretty crazy year is a bit of an understatement. When things go a little haywire in our lives, often the first thing we begin to neglect is our health and fitness, which is actually one of the biggest things we should be prioritising. We spoke to none other than Libby Babet (@libbybabet), inspirational fitness aficionado and The Biggest Loser: Transformed trainer on how she’s been staying happy, healthy and fit throughout isolation and how you can do the same.
Hi Libby, thanks for agreeing to chat with us! How have you found isolation so far?
I think all the new ‘rules’ we’ve had to play by in 2020 have been confronting for everybody! I own multiple small businesses, so to be honest I haven’t really slowed down, in fact I’ve never worked so hard to keep our dreams alive and navigate some really tricky financial situations. So quarantine for me has been about doing more than ever before, not less, but just moving between fewer spaces.
We’re in Sydney so have escaped lockdown #2 so far, but still, with less staff on board than pre-covid, the last thing I need is to visit a café or restaurant that becomes a hotspot and not be able to walk into my own business while I get through a quarantine period. We’re pretty much living between home, our businesses (one of which I live above!) and open spaces like parks and beaches, to keep us and our toddler sane!
The absolute hardest thing for me is that I don’t live close to family, so I haven’t seen my sisters, nephew, or parents in a very long time, and that’s been hard. I’m really missing the idea that I could jump on a plane, or hop in the car whenever the desire hits and visit the people and places I love, and I miss planning holidays and looking forward to those grand adventures we all took for granted before this pandemic hit. I’m also part owner in Nurture Her and Nurture 360, which are incredible business events run in Fiji each year, and I’m definitely mourning the loss of spending 10 days in a tropical paradise learning from incredible business people!
If there’s one thing that quarantine has taught me, it’s that once you surrender, there’s a lot of joy in the very simple things in life. Being present with your family, staying local and not getting in the car as often, staying fit despite the challenges, showing up for your community when they need you most, getting creative, trying new things in business, sharing a communal struggle and pulling through it all together. I feel like our community at my fitness biz The Upbeat has never been closer to be honest, which is a great feeling.
Staying at home has definitely been challenging for many of us in terms of health and fitness! Do you have any tips on staying motivated to exercise while self-isolating or in quarantine (thinking of our Victorian friends here!)?
I love a creative workout experience as much as the next girl (probably more given what I do!), but when it comes to staying fit and healthy, gym sessions are not actually needed at all. If we just swap the word ‘exercise’ for the word ‘movement’ it all starts to become easier, because really what the human body needs is as much movement as possible – and the movement you can do most often, without injury or requiring ‘motivation’ to do it? Walking. It’s SO underrated! And of course, you can do it with a face mask on too. I make it my personal goal to do upwards of 12,000 steps per day, I live to close that circle on my Apple Watch!
It’s so simple – you can get those steps walking around the house taking a phone call, chasing your kids around the park, taking a night walk, doing a few laps of your block every few hours, or doing a simple from-home workout! Then just add in 5-10 minutes of strength work per day for body structure and you’re good! This can be as simple as doing 10 squats and 5 push-ups, repeated for 5 minutes somewhere in your day, or doing 10 lunges, then resting for a slow count of 10 and repeating for 5 minutes. Or it might be some basic Pilates core work for 10 minutes – honestly just Google ‘10-minute bodyweight strength workout’ and you’ll have dozens of options!
Move move move. Do it indoors, outdoors, with your kids, solo, stretch in front of the TV, whatever! Remember, wearing a face mask is a preventative measure for catching a disease, but movement and good nutrition, hydration and sleep are the things that fortify your body to fight disease if or when it comes your way. It’s never been more important to get your steps in, get your strength up and eat well!
If you still need the fun factor but are stuck at home, download our app, The Upbeat On Demand and workout to the beat with us from home! Find it at theupbeat.fit/on-demand or on your App Store.
Do you have any advice for avoiding emotional eating while staying at home?
Sure do… don’t buy the foods you usually emotionally eat! I have a pretty iron will, staying healthy is really important to me and I love eating fruit and vegetables, but if there’s a block of chocolate in my cupboard and I’m stuck at home all day? Oh yeah, I’ll eat it out of boredom alright! So stock your fridge with healthy food… you know, the kind you’ll only eat if you’re actually hungry.
Next up, it can be really helpful to prepare and plan your eating just as you would if you were going to work. Have your breakfast, then prepare your lunch and put it in the fridge. When it’s time for lunch, get it out and eat it! Have some healthy snacks pre-prepared too, chop some veggies up and pre-portion some hummus, or have a serve of nuts and chopped fruit ready to eat if you need a snack.
If you’re at home you might make a little rule for yourself that every time you have something to eat, you’ll do a lap of the block. That way you’ll only eat when you’re actually hungry AND you’ll metabolise it better after a walk too.
I also LOVE having a variety of drinks ready to consume when I’m stuck at home – sparkling water, lots of different herbal teas and some healthy coffee indulgences (I love Pukka or Dilmah teas, the superfood drinks from Jomeis Wholefoods and health-infused coffees like Before You Speak or begoat, or caffeine free mushroom drinks like those from Life Cykel). Because sometimes when you want to eat you’re just bored and a drink will do the trick!
What are your favourite go-to healthy snacks?
I’ve actually co-founded two companies that make super healthy protein bars and cookies, all made from healthy wholefood ingredients and no crap, so I always have those nearby – you can find them at Beauty Food (healthy, yummy, bite-sized collagen cookies and coming soon are lush collagen nut butters, all designed primarily for busy women and mums!) and Eat Like A Chief (collagen and grass-fed meat products designed for athletes and active people looking for clean fuel).
Outside of that I love a healthy smoothie (always 20g protein and 10g fibre, some greens, a quarter cup frozen fruit and a spoonful of fat – these ingredients satiate all your hunger hormones and leave you feeling full and satisfied!), or a sliced apple or banana with a little nut butter on top, or some simple chopped veggies with some hummus – just be sure your hummus is NOT made on sunflower, canola or vegetable oils, as most are and these are not healthy ingredients – look for olive oil or just chickpeas and tahini as the base!
I don’t eat cereal for breakfast because I’m a big believer in quality protein and plant-based fibre first thing, but if I’m really hungry another good snack for me might be half a cup of oats made on water, with a scoop of At Health chocolate collagen protein powder in it – it tastes like healthy coco pops but is low calorie and great for you!
How did The Upbeat adapt to online classes during lockdown in Sydney?
We closed on a Monday morning and experimented with Live Stream classes that night! They sucked at first, we couldn’t get the voice and music working well together… but with lots of experimentation and many new technical purchases, we now have an incredible live-stream system and stream our classes direct from the studio experience! It’s amazing and super fun, and has expanded our reach.
Partway into lockdown, our community also started asking for ‘do anytime’ workouts, so we built a web app and pre-filmed some sessions. They were so popular that we ended up building a full phone app for iPhone and Android, which is now The Upbeat On Demand on the App Store! We’re super proud of it but always working to improve. Because we created a lot of the early workouts on the fly, there’s still a lot of work to do to build out the library and improve the quality. BUT, our workouts are so different to a lot of what’s out there, so we’re getting incredible feedback and traction with it already, which is awesome and a testament to the fact that a lot of the time in business, it’s better to launch and then adapt/improve, than just to wait until everything is ‘perfect’ to get going.
Now that you’ve resumed in-person classes, what kind of precautions are you taking to keep customers safe?
It’s a different world! We’ve reduced class numbers (max of 14 people per class), we’ve purchased the most incredible 2x2m mats from Miramat to keep everyone easily and organically socially distanced, we have more time between classes and strict cleaning protocols between every session and also between session blocks. We take everyone’s temperature on the way in and check in on anyone who’s been absent for illness to make sure they’ve been tested and cleared. We have strict booking policies and all of our members have access to live and on-demand workouts for free, so if they are feeling even slightly under the weather, they can continue to move along with us from home. We also no longer share equipment or run boxing classes, and people bring their own equipment for our outdoor boot(y)camp workouts. Considering all the change, the community has responded SO well and we’re really proud of the way everyone has pulled together!
For those of us who are still self-isolating or working from home, do you have any quick at-home workouts that can be slotted in during a lunch break?
On our app we have 15, 30 and 45-minute workouts you can do from anywhere! And a lot of them are so much fun that kids are loving joining in too!
If you’re looking for something you can do without any guidance, try my 10-to-1 countdown session. Literally choose any two exercises, for example, squats and push-ups, or burpees and sit-ups, or starjumps and lunges, and do 10 repetitions of each of them, then 9 of each, then 8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1. It’s fun, it’s easy and it’s enough to really boost your energy without overdoing it!
And of course, you know I’m going to say it… WALK! It’s great for not only your body, but your mental health. And if you get bored, hit play on a podcast or an epic playlist every time you walk out that door for a hit of motivation that will fuel your next work effort.
A lot of my personal clients use either a 25:5 or a 50:10 method. That is, they set a work goal and try and smash it out in either 25 or 50 minutes, then they take the next 5 or 10 to do a lap or two of the block, or some reps of a few exercises on the balcony. It’s the best way to keep moving all day AND you tend to be more productive with your work too.
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