“Here’s How I Got My Fitness Back After The Pandemic”

Zama Chonco overcame fibroids and a burst appendix at the height of the pandemic while navigating lockdown, job insecurity and body issues. How she got back into her routine? Taking it day by day. Get your fitness back by following Zama’s story.

For attorney Zama Chonco, yoga and boxing were an integral part of her balanced life: making sure she had an outlet to let go of the stressors of her work. She’d been practising firmly since 2015, when a yoga instructor got her into the physicality of the movement. But from 2020 until the end of 2021, things became difficult when health challenges threatened to upend her balance.

First, she suffered from fibroids that needed to be removed. Next, a burst appendix that became infected. She’d recovered from that – slow movements, a scaled-down approach – when COVID hit. Suddenly, everything shut down.

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Overcoming lockdown

Almost overnight, yoga studios and boxing gyms were unavailable. Zama could keep up her fitness by going for runs and practising on her own, which she managed to do quite well for a year. But after that, things because difficult. “I then did not really go and run like I was doing even though now everything (had) opened but I kind of had a physical shut down of actually, I no longer want to do anything,” she recalls. Online yoga classes didn’t work for her, either. She’d just hit a slump. “I felt like a failure because I’m a yoga instructor. Surely, I should be able to teach my own classes? But I just didn’t,” she says.   

Getting back into the swing of things wasn’t as easy as waking up one morning and jumping on the yoga mat, day after day. Along with COVID, Zama was recovering from a fibroids operation and was dealing with post-COVID brain fog. “I wish I could say it was easy, I just got back into it. But I didn’t and I don’t think I’m still quite there even now,” she says.

Zama Chonco

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Getting into the swing of things

“I think work was very crazy,” she reflects. “Circumstances dictated that I focus elsewhere.” This meant fewer moments to herself; less time on the mat or at the boxing bag. But it all came to a head because yoga and boxing, her coping mechanisms, were moving further and further away.

Zama decided to reintroduce exercise slowly, by incorporating yoga into her routine once a week only, then twice a week, and then eventually, adding back her boxing classes. Now, she aims to do yoga at the studio three times a week, with boxing classes twice a week. She also tapped into her community: her sisters and friends all have Apple watches, which come with fitness challenges. They all joined to keep each other accountable. “Having a small target every day or every week and doing silly things like that is what’s got me into a good space,” she says. “I think the last three years have really been a good test to say life is more important than anything and your health is more important than anything. So I’m going to kind of focus myself to be able to deliver what I need to but within reasonable expectations.” And that’s really how it’s done.

“I wish I could say it was easy, I just got back into it. But I didn’t and I don’t think I’m still quite there even now.”

– Zama

Zama Chonco overcame fibroids

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Get your fitness back

“But where you are doesn’t mean that’s where you stay. Set your goals from there,” says Zama.

“In every daily practice, try do something every day, but if you don’t it’s ok. Understand why you’re at where you’re at,” advises Zama.

  • Tap into what’s available.

“Because you don’t have to do it by yourself,” she says.

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