The Best Parts of 2020

We’ve seen the headlines, the pictures, and the stats. We’ve heard the stories. We’ve felt the fear, the anger, the anxiety, and nearly every other emotion. We’ve lived through 2020, a year that has unquestionably been exhausting, taxing, and depressing. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that most of us are looking forward to the end of 2020 and the hope of a better 2021.

But before we ring in the new year, we took a few moments to dwell on the highlights of 2020. After all, it wasn’t all bad. Here are ten of the best parts of the past 365 days, according to our writers and ambassadors.

best parts of 2020

Making gains

Personally, I’m proud of the physical strength I’ve gained. Since mid-2019, I’ve spent significantly more time lifting weights, and this year I truly started to notice a difference. Not only do I feel stronger, but I can even see muscles in my arms (which is a new occurrence!). The time spent working out at the gym and at home has led to improvements in my front squat, power clean and strict press.

Pressing pause

Despite the challenging nature of 2020, writer Nimbe Juarez has enjoyed “slowing down” and taking in her surroundings. “I was always in a rush and would go for runs but never really pay attention to what I saw,” she said. “I’ve gone on the same paths now and have discovered more sculptures or new paths and art.”

A fitness program opportunity

For ambassador Reyna Hoerdeman, a high point of the year came when her studio, Studio Fit Chicago, collaborated with Yoga on the Beach Company to lead Navy Pier’s fitness and yoga program. “It felt so great to be outside doing what my instructors and I love (teaching) safely to so many people who showed up to be part of something greater than all of us week after week,” she said.

Discovering a new tradition

“One of the best parts about this year for me was seeing the United States Coast Guard making their annual Christmas tree run from Michigan to Chicago,” said writer Ashley Martens. More than 1,000 Christmas trees were transported across Lake Michigan. Had COVID-19 not changed Martens’ walking route, she never would have experienced this holiday event.

Picnics in the park

aSweatLife ambassador Megan Sizoo has found new ways to connect with friends this year. “Since social opportunities were scarce, it really made me savor and enjoy the ones I had,” she said. “Sitting in the park with a picnic and soaking in the human contact made it so easy to put our phones down and focus on the people I was with.”

Connecting and strengthening friendships

Like Sizoo, another ambassador — Kayleigh Parent — has been creative when it comes to talking to friends. “They all live in other areas and pre-pandemic we didn’t connect as much,” Parent said. “Now that video chat is more [of] a thing, they are the people I ‘spend’ the most time with.”

Taking a chance

“As unexpected as it was, the pandemic encouraged me to go independent and launch an online training business,” said ambassador Amy Gumbs. She feels free to try new things and has loved navigating her own expanding business.

No more FOMO

There’s no doubt that being busy can often lead to fear of missing out. But that’s not the case anymore for ambassador Maggie Wolff. “I work full-time and I’m in grad school part-time, and this year I haven’t been feeling my usual FOMO when chained to my laptop all weekend,” she said.

A new quarantine hobby

Ambassador Hope Roeser put her hours inside to good use and found a unique pastime: crocheting. “I’ve been handmaking almost all of my Christmas gifts this year and I’m so excited to give them,” she said.

More time with family

Hester Lam, an ambassador, has appreciated getting to spend more time with her parents. “I haven’t been able to spend this much time with them since summer breaks in college … since I’m normally in a different state from them,” she said.

As grueling as 2020 has been, take a few moments to acknowledge the little things that brought you joy. Here’s to a healthier, happier 2021!

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About Erin Dietsche

Erin ran track from an early age, but it wasn’t until her parents “forced” her to join her high school cross country team that she fell in love with running. Since then, she’s become an avid runner and learned how to balance her running with her interest in eating chocolate. In recent years, Erin has embraced other forms of fitness like lifting weights. When she’s not working out, she enjoys anything theatre-related, writing plays, reading, listening to rap music, and playing the piano.