Coronavirus

This Philly Fitness Instructor Is Quarantining with Online Classes and Home Cooking

Lauren Leavell, Philly barre and HIIT instructor, is teaching lots of virtual workouts, plus honing her cooking skills.


A week in the social distancing life of Lauren Leavell, Philly group fitness instructor. / Photograph courtesy of Lauren Leavell.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one area resident to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email lbrzyski@phillymag.com.

Who I am: Lauren Leavell (@laurenleavellfitness), 28

Where I live: Mt. Airy

What I do: I am a personal trainer, group fitness instructor (solo, and for Lumos Yoga & Barre), and content creator.

What role healthy living plays in my life: My main job is teaching fitness classes and training private clients, so I have made a career out of movement. Healthy means something different for everyone and working out is just a piece of my health routine.

Health memberships (and what they cost): None (free as a teacher), but I am currently paying for the upgraded version of Zoom to teach virtual classes ($14.99 per month).

Note from Leavell: In these uncertain times, a lot of people are struggling to access food, secure housing, and other basic needs. I have the privilege of still having a job, having a partner who has a job and health benefits, and living in secure housing. I am choosing not to detail all of my food choices because I believe everyone should eat intuitively and many people do not currently (or ever) have access to the wide array of food I do. It is important to remember that there is never a time or place for food shame, and someone’s ability to buy organic or unprocessed food does not equate to the desire to live full and vibrant lives.

Monday

Leavell masked up on an outdoor walk. / Photograph by Lauren Leavell.

5:45 a.m. — For absolutely no reason, I am awake. My cat immediately starts meowing for food, so we are up for a very slow and way too early morning. Today is my only day off from teaching, and I use this time to do work for myself like planning my classes, getting back to emails, and editing any upcoming submissions I have.

8 a.m. — My partner and I are officially awake enough for breakfast. We were used to eating breakfast at home even before social distancing started, so we have a very coordinated breakfast routine. He starts coffee, gets out all the ingredients, and clears a path for me to cook!

9:30 a.m. — After some breakfast and lounging around, we set up our workspaces on opposite sides of the apartment. I take the laptop to the living room while my partner films his middle school art lessons in our bedroom.

10 a.m. — I spend time uploading and editing photos for a brand collaboration I am working on. These are huge files and they take FOREVER to upload.

11:50 a.m. — I realize I have no bra on, my workout space is a disaster, and Pilates starts in 10 minutes!

12 p.m. — I log on to take a virtual Pilates class with my friend Kayla. I have worked with her doing private Pilates but today I am taking a group mat class. I love using this as a form of active recovery. It helps me feel into areas where I am sore, and it is also nice not being the teacher for a change.

1 p.m. — We eat leftovers for lunch and I clean up. Then we both get back to work. Working in a one-bedroom apartment has been… interesting.

2 p.m. — My partner and I go for a leisurely walk around the neighborhood. We are both wearing cloth masks and most of the people we are passing are also wearing masks. Long walks are definitely one of our favorite things but they feel a little more stressful now that there are masks involved.

3 p.m. — Our friend comes by to drop off soup for us. They do a porch drop off and wave from the car. It is still nice to “see” them.

4 p.m. — I am planning upcoming virtual offerings and classes, connecting with brands, and doing some writing for a couple of guest blogs. I usually do not sit this long but I have to get this stuff out of the way for the week.

5 p.m. — What are we eating for dinner? Since today is my day off/weekend, we usually order food. It has been about two weeks since we have ordered out, even though time doesn’t even mean a thing. We grab sweetgreen and opt for delivery ($25).

6 p.m. — Sweetgreen is here. Don’t forget to tip your drivers…a lot! We grab the food, wash our hands, and sit down to eat.

7 p.m. — I take a shower and put away clean laundry before we sit down to watch TV.

8 p.m. — I am going to watch last night’s episode of Westworld. Because my partner and I both work and plan on Sundays, we usually like to watch it the next night so we can nerd out in peace.

9:30 p.m. — I feed and play with the cat so she doesn’t go insane all night.

10 p.m. — I am in bed but I am probably going to scroll and Google random things for 45 minutes!

Daily total: $25

Tuesday

Leavell after teaching a successful sweat sesh. / Photograph by Lauren Leavell.

7:30 a.m. — Wake up and make my bed. Teaching virtual classes means people are constantly seeing my home! I am always moving furniture, adjusting the lighting, and trying to get the best angles to demo moves.

8 a.m. — I don’t love eating a full breakfast before teaching. I will be jumping around and sweating and I just don’t need to be full. I opt for morning protein shake with frozen banana and coffee….don’t knock it until you try it.

9 a.m. — My virtual boot camp class is starting. Everyone is able to log in and I have people joining from different time zones! Class starts like any other but then my internet slows and my camera starts freezing. I stop to troubleshoot and RESTART my zoom meeting. Fortunately, all of my attendees are patient and somewhat used to this new way of taking classes.

10 a.m. — Made it through class despite the tech challenges! I pack up my things for the rest of the day and we head over to our family friend’s home. We have been taking care of this space because they are not in Philadelphia. It is also nice to be out of our apartment, even though we are still inside.

11:30 a.m. — DISINFECT! I cannot stop cleaning. Every time we leave the house, I come home and clean the floors and high touch surfaces. I am a big cleaner in general, but COVID-19 is making it worse.

12:30 p.m. — Sit down to eat lunch that we brought from our house. After, I run the dishwasher and edit some photos on my phone.

2 p.m. — Sit outside in the sunshine and relax. I am actually trying to find more moments of stillness and quiet, which helps alleviate stress.

4 p.m. — I am teaching a special boot camp and stretch class for my partner and his coworkers. Teachers have a really hard job in general, but in this current climate, their jobs are even more stressful. I have been offering movement classes as a form of team building for the teachers at his school.

5 p.m. — I prep soup and salad for dinner tonight. I either need to eat before my 7 p.m. class or after my 8 p.m. class! I clear up after dinner and hydrate before class.

7 p.m. — My barre-less barre class starts. I have a pretty full class and they completely bring it. Teaching and performing all the moves is pretty exhausting but all of my clients give me energy!

8 p.m. — I roll straight from barre into my stretch class. This class is perfect for people who are stiff from working at a makeshift desk all day OR folks who have been taking super intense workout classes and need a little TLC. I selfishly put a wind down type of class on the schedule to encourage myself to chill out.

9 p.m. — Shower and comb my hair…it’s a project.

10 p.m. — I turn on cooking shows and pretty much watch them until I fall asleep. That happens all the time, quarantine or not.

Daily total: $0

Wednesday

Leavell taught a class for NYC frontline hospital workers. / Photograph by Lauren Leavell.

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm! I gotta get dressed for my 8:15 a.m. class.

7:45 a.m. — I eat a KIND bar for some fuel, and drink a huge glass of water.

8 a.m. — I am logging into the Lumos Yoga & Barre Zoom channel to teach my LIIT class. LIIT stands for Lumos Intensity Interval Training. It is an all-levels class that can be done with or without weights.

9 a.m. — Class is over! I grab my eight pound weights, which are the heaviest I currently have access to, and do a short strength workout.

9:30 a.m. — My partner and I spend some time stretching and lying on the floor. He has a long day of sitting at the computer ahead of him so it is nice to get some time together.

11 a.m. — I placed an order at our local produce store ($28). Today is my curbside pick-up date. After we pick this up, we head back to our apartment.

11:15 a.m. — I need to put these groceries away but it is time for some more substantial food. Groceries are going to need to wait. (If I wait long enough, maybe my partner will put them away…)

1 p.m. — I have a private training session on zoom. My client does not have access to weights so we get creative. We use a lot of bands and body weight for these sessions and they are still really rewarding.

2:15 p.m. — I got a message from my friend in New York about teaching a class at 3 p.m. I mentioned that I would be willing to teach a class for him and the staff at the hospital where he works. His entire hospital has been on the frontlines and some staff members have had COVID-19, recovered, and gone straight back to work.

3 p.m. — I hop on a call and I am in a hospital break room. I hear people coming into the room but it takes each person at least a minute to transition into the space because they are removing PPE. You can hear the calls over the hospital PA system.

3:15 p.m. — I kick off a short virtual movement session where I lead the staff through some stretches, a couple of intervals to get their blood flowing (in a less scary way), and a cool down where we focus on breath. I had a blast, and my friend lets me know that the staff is asking for me to come back next week…and to send cheesesteaks!

4 p.m. — I hop off the call and lie on the floor to decompress.

4:15 p.m. — We mask up and go out for a walk. The fresh air is much needed after being indoors. We keep our distance from other folks who are walking and wave at neighbors.

5:45 p.m. — Back home and time to wash, disinfect, and then shower. Every single time I leave the apartment, those clothes need to get washed. This is the reason I have so much laundry all the time.

6:30 p.m. — I start throwing together some dinner. We are just having some pasta and veggies with ground beef and sauce. My goal for being home is to absolutely use what we have. I love to cook, but I also love to order food. Using up leftovers and making sure my veggies don’t die in the fridge is huge for me.

7 p.m. — Dinner and downtime. My partner and I discuss school, work, etc. Even though we spend all day physically together, we are both good at setting work boundaries and creating space to concentrate.

8:30 p.m. — I hop on a conference call with the Lumos staff. It’s good to see some familiar faces and check in to see how everyone is doing. I have felt super supported by the studio during this time!

9:30 p.m. — I write a to-do list for the millionth time and chat with my partner about what our tomorrow will look like.

10 p.m. — Bedtime routine and lights out

Daily total: $28

Thursday

Leavell’s nice cream, made with frozen bananas, tahina ice cubes, and dark chocolate. / Photograph by Lauren Leavell.

2 a.m. — I wake up from anxiety and lie in bed, eyes open, for an hour.

8 a.m. — I don’t have a morning class this week and I rescheduled a client so…slower morning. I am happy to have some extra time to lounge around. I scroll through social media and talk to my cat before I get up.

9 a.m. — I hit the kitchen for some food! I always have a couple of sips of coffee but I cannot handle a ton. Today, I feel like I want more than just a few sips because I AM TIRED.

10 a.m. — My partner asks me if I want to go for a walk and I really don’t! Okay, I do, but I don’t. I just want to chill. The weather is weird and bumming me out a bit.

11 a.m. — I am on the laptop editing photos from my most recent indoor/socially-distant photoshoot. It is nice having work but it can also be a lot to do from home.

12 p.m. — Putting my computer down for a bit to call my grandma. She lives in southern California and we talk almost everyday. I know she is bored at home so we just chat about the weather and what our pets are doing. She loves hearing about my mundane adventures.

1:30 p.m. — Make a quick lunch and check in with my partner. I have been doing so much cooking but I absolutely love it.

2 p.m. — Time for us to both get back to work.

4 p.m. — I stop working for a bit to play with the cat and complain about being bored. I am used to doing a lot more “running around” type things, so being home all day has been hard. I miss my community.

5 p.m. — I decide to check on my homemade kombucha. It is one of my favorite things and I used to make it all the time. I decided quarantine was the perfect time to brew! My homemade SCOBYs are coming along nicely.

6 p.m. — I have no idea what we are going to do for dinner BUT I teach in an hour so I let my partner figure it out. I don’t need to leave the house for classes but I always have to troubleshoot my technology before class starts, especially when I have a lot of people signed up.

7 p.m. — I boot up my class and I am so happy to see all the faces on the other side of the screen. The wind is blowing like crazy so the entire time I am teaching I keep thinking that the power may get knocked out. We make it through, though!

8 p.m. — My partner made a frozen pizza and I grab a slice and scroll through my phone in the kitchen. I see that a friend on the West Coast is teaching a movement class…in 30 minutes. Is it too late to sign up? I sign up as I finish my slice of pizza.

9:30 p.m. — I am so happy I got to TAKE class rather than teach it.

9:40 p.m. — Why is there no ice cream in my house? I decide to make some nice cream out of frozen bananas, some tahini shake cubes inspired by Goldie, and some dark chocolate. It is actually delicious and I am satisfied.

10:45 p.m. — Lights out!

Daily total: $0

Friday

Leavell’s at-home fitness teaching set-up. / Photograph by Lauren Leavell.

8 a.m. — I am awake and decide to work in bed for a bit. That means my partner and I are working in the same room, which isn’t too bad. As I said, we are good with setting boundaries when it comes to work.

8:30 a.m. — I eat some oats for breakfast instead of my usual eggs and toast.

9:30 a.m. — I have a consulting call with another fitness pro. We talk about how classes have been going, what we have learned, and our plans for moving forward. While teaching online is very possible, it is not simple. If you didn’t have much of an online presence or anywhere to register clients, it can be extremely overwhelming.

10:30 a.m. — I finish up our video call and check my sign-ups for my 11:30 a.m HIIT class. I purposely made my Friday class at 11:30 a.m. so folks from the West Coast could join without it being 6 a.m.!

11:30 a.m. — This class is fast-paced and all body weight. I usually don’t do this in my living room because I don’t want my downstairs neighbor to hate me, but today I had to make an exception.

12:05 p.m. — I did not get any angry texts from the neighbor so I think I am good. This was also one of the sweatiest classes. The rain last night made it just a tad more humid and I am dripping sweat. I lie on the floor for a bit before deciding to take a shower.

1 p.m. — After a quick shower, I head to the kitchen for a snack. I also make sure to drink a ton of water because I have not been drinking as much as I normally do.

2 p.m. — We throw our masks on and go for another neighborhood stroll. The wind from last night knocked over some huge trees and we walk past a couple of them.

3:30 p.m. — We get home from the walk and wash up. Then we pick at some leftovers in the fridge. Some days, time just gets away from us. Since our schedules have all been changing and evolving, sometimes we snack instead of eat.

4 p.m. — I am watching cooking shows on my tablet and I completely knockout at some point.

5:30 p.m. — That nap felt like 3 hours but it clearly wasn’t. I am starving. I decide I am making breakfast for dinner and I want eggs Benedict. I clean up my kitchen and get to work. I have made this before but it is kind of a delicate dish because of the poached eggs and the emulsion sauce.

7 p.m. — The kitchen is clean and the food is ready. My sauce ALMOST broke but we made it. And it is soooo amazing.

8 p.m. — Hop on the couch for some quality time and a very chill Friday evening!

Daily total: $0

Weekly totals

Money spent: $53
Workouts completed: Three
Classes taught: Nine
Walks outside: Three

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