Fitness and Covid: How quarantine motivated me to get in shape

By Isaiah Dickson
December 10, 2021

Prior to the pandemic cutting my senior year short, my dad had always joked about the “freshman fifteen.” I always responded by denying that I could ever gain fifteen pounds during my freshman year of college. While I’ve never necessarily had the best eating habits,  I was playing basketball two to three times a week during my high school years. In my mind,  I was too active to let myself gain that weight. But everything changed once COVID-19 shut down the school and the gym. 

The summer leading up to my freshman year in college I had planned to play basketball just as much as I did in high school. I was going to join one or two leagues for college students and when the school year started I would play in the intramural league. The pandemic shut everything down and I went through an unbearable seven-month stretch of not being able to play basketball.

Photo by Isaiah Dickson

Eventually, some restrictions were lifted towards the end of 2020 and gyms were opening up once again. It was a slow opening so I stopped going to the gym and decided I would wait until we could play against other people.

Towards the end of the spring semester, I had a wake-up call.

I hadn’t played basketball in months, wasn’t doing much else to stay in shape and got into my head. I found my way to the scale, and then the moment of truth.  I had gained about 10 pounds during my freshman year. Even though I claimed the scale was old and broken, reading that number negatively resonated with me.

I started to do home workouts but this didn’t last long as I failed to stick with it after feeling no significant change and being impatient. I was desperate to avoid the freshman fifteen so I did the unthinkable.

I told my dad that I wanted to go lift weights with him thinking it would help me avoid gaining weight.

Another subconscious worry revolves around gym stereotypes. People often fear the judgment of regular gym-goers and I had that same fear when I stepped foot onto the weight floor. Muscle beach, as I’ve heard it referred to, was nothing but muscular people who seemed to be seasoned veterans in the weight room. The thought of someone looking at how much weight I was lifting or even seeing me struggle to lift a certain amount of weight is what kept me away from it for so long.

Eventually, I had to give some of the best advice I’ve ever given myself. I constantly reminded myself that there will always be someone who lifts more than me and someone who lifts less than me. This reminder encouraged me to continue to work out. 

Photo by Isaiah Dickson

Every Friday I would go to lift weights with my dad. After going consistently for a few weeks he told me that I needed to go more often. I silently agreed that once a week wasn’t cutting it anymore. It was around this same time that I saw friends on Instagram posting themselves at the gym almost every day which motivated me to continue working out.

Once the gym allowed basketball games again I would go up to the gym three times a week. Twice to play basketball and to work out and then I still went on Fridays with my dad to do another workout. I still try to keep a schedule of three times a week even while working my summer job as a camp counselor. 

Now that many COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted, I’m able to get out and see people I haven’t seen for months.

From time to time, close family, friends or members of my church would ask if I’ve been working out, both in a joking and serious manner. While I’m not built like a person that spends hours in the gym it is reassuring to know that some people, even if it’s just a few, can see some results of my efforts.

I never wanted to work out for other people to notice. I just wanted to stay healthy, get stronger and avoid the freshman fifteen by any means possible. 

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Isaiah Dickson

Hi, I’m Isaiah Dickson. I’m from Brookhaven, Pennsylvania and I’m part of the class of 2024. I’m a Digital Communications and Social Media major and on the Loquitur I serve as the perspectives editor where I’ve previously been a reporter and an assistant perspectives editor. I’ve always enjoyed writing since elementary school. It’s a hobby that I’d love to do as a fulltime job. After college I hope to have a career in screenwriting. I’ve always had an interest in the worlds of television and film. Those are areas that I’m passionate about and I use those interests to help drive my news writing and reporting. Some of the topics I like writing about the most are the stories that are more personal or the stories that shed light on an issue in society. Outside of writing on the Loquitur I enjoy playing basketball, lifting weights, and music.

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