3 Ramadan 1441
Motivation is a strange thing to come by in pandemic times.
When motivation happens, it’s fleeting.
Just like my attention span.
I once tried to motivate myself (like maybe last week) to remain angry with my husband for leaving his dishes in the sink, but then I moved on to my last bag of flaming hot cheetos. Or the friends’ chat about the spectrum of emotions revealed in a single day. Or one of the dozen cat videos my cousin’s husband sends daily. Or another article about the pandemic that my friend Franklin shared reconfirming shit is bad and gonna stay bad for a long time.
I have come to realize over the last month and a half in quarantine that it is not clear to me what the difference between motivation and the impulsive throwing away of critical inhibitions really is.
Like when an undergrad told me via Zoom office hours that she had a crush on someone but wasn’t sure if she should follow him on Instagram, I felt the fire of inspiration to declare, GIRL IT IS PANDEMIC TIMES. FOLLOW HIM. GET WHAT’S YOURS. YOLO.
Outside of pandemic times, I don’t hand out relationship advice so freely.
Sometimes, I’ll come across a particularly informative tweet or well-crafted TikTok, and I’ll feel motivated to reach out to people. Like when I read a tweet that texting PEW PEW iPhone to iPhone makes laser beams shoot out, I didn’t let the fact that it was past midnight stop me. I texted contacts PEW PEW until 2 AM in order to confirm that this tweet was indeed true. Among those contacts was my Physical Therapist who responded to my 12:30 AM text at 7:30 AM EST saying, “That was absolutely the least likely text I was expecting to wake up to today. ”
Last fall semester, pre-pandemic, the pain of September deaths conferred upon me loads of motivation to go to the gym. Between getting yelled at by a trainer named Sherman for smiling so damn much while punching and kicking dummies in a midtown gym and the live DJ’s and trainers of color actually from the 3-0-5 at 305 Fitness, I was unstoppable.
Regarding how I came to find myself a frequenter of 305 Fitness classes, one of my oldest friends visited me in New York City from DC and she told me she thinks I would love 305.
She knows me well.
The first time I went to a class, it was only me, an Indonesian Muslim woman, a trainer from Miami who gave me all the compliments for my choice of lipstick, and a live DJ who at some point shouted, DO YOU WANT IT SEXY OR RATCHET?!
And I screamed back, “RATCHET!!”
And the DJ said, “YOU KNOW MY STYLE!
And then I realized I didn’t really need to shout because it was only three of us in the studio at that moment.
During another class, another trainer from Miami wore a neon green jumpsuit. The class was so hype and the trainer so good, I decided – I might just buy myself a neon green jumpsuit.
When I returned to New York City after winter break and a marathon of wedding events, I remained motivated to go to the gym, but I decided to be more practical with my finances and sign up for classes at Columbia’s Dodge gym. The exact reasons I avoided Dodge for eight years were the reasons that motivated me eight years later to attend. After all, I had to get to the bottom of the question of why there were so many Asian students attending Zumba classes and why were there more older white women in cardio sculpt classes?
In pandemic times, however, I have about 10 minutes of motivation in me to exercise.
Once it was clear we had to shelter in place, my brother sent me a few videos of trainers he deems to have “excellent form.” For some reason, only one has stuck. I think it’s because she doesn’t talk to me, the music is good, it is exactly 10 minutes, and my neighbors downstairs aren’t tapping their ceiling loudly to indicate I need to quiet my footwork down.
But back to the old friend who got me on the 305 kick. She is now lamenting – WHAT WAS ALL OF IT FOR? WHY DID I GO TO THE GYM? WHITHER THE SUMMER BEACH BODY INVESTMENT?
I wear hijab, so, that was not an option for me anyway.
But I was really looking forward to looking fresh and fly with the booties I had been collecting for my spring and summer swag.
So I, too, have asked myself—and another friend—What, indeed, was the MMA turned HIT Fitness Gym and 305 dance classes all for?
And this friend, who is very wise, gently texted back, To build your stamina for quick and necessary grocery runs.
And suddenly, I had motivation again.