Last Friday, four days into France’s almost complete lockdown, I was stopped while jogging in the north of Paris by a polite but firm police officer who wanted to know exactly how far I’d run.
Luckily, I was still within the permitted 500m of my flat and had my signed attestation sur l’honneur, the document justifying my presence outside, in my pocket. But the message was clear: you should not be outside for real exercise, only to stretch your legs and stave off insanity.
So, upon returning home, my wife and I thought about how we could better use our tiny flat to keep, if not fit, then somewhat in shape. The empty biscuit packets beside our fridge slowly forming into a pyramid of recycling, buttressed by wine bottles, provided motivation.
A few options have now been tried, including doing chest lifts until my arms tired, using my three and a half month-old daughter as a deadweight, while she giggled and drooled. But this felt like an unsustainable and inefficient solution, so I dusted off my free weights and push-up bars from under the bed.
That has proved fine in short bursts — 10 minutes or so at a time, usually in the morning or when desperate for a break from work — but no quality of podcast can disguise how intrinsically boring it is over longer periods.
So, and with trepidation on my part, we are now attempting yoga. It’s an activity that lends itself to a small space where all you need is a mat stretched out, in this case, across a living room.
My wife is vastly better at it than me so has promised to give me morning lessons. She has signed up to online yoga classes with her regular teacher. And the few solo efforts I’ve made have shown promise — not so much in any improvement in form or grace on my part, but in stretching out muscles that have been ruined by hours hunched over my keyboard at the dining table.
I will persevere and, so far, I recommend it.
— David Keohane, FT correspondent, Paris