Traditional gym settings and group fitness classes provide substantial benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health. However, working out at home can be just as effective.
And, just because some gyms and studios are closed or enforcing mask requirements, does not mean exercise should take the backburner. In fact, during these tumultuous times exercising is more important than ever.
So, here is how to make it work at home during the COVID-19 pandemic (without the worry of practicing social distancing and wearing a mask)!
Creating a Schedule
Planning workouts ahead of time is the surest way to stick to exercising. Conversely, because schedules are hectic, taking a willy nilly approach and banking on finding time is unlikely if exercise is not an ingrained habit.
Instead, try time blocking workout sessions into the week. Set aside 20 minutes on Sunday, think about the week ahead, and schedule exercise into a planner much like a work meeting or other obligation.
While it is unnecessary to exercise at the same time every day, this is a simple way to consistently work out. If this is not possible, try to generally workout around the same time on specific days each week.
Setting Realistic Goals
Creating solid, or otherwise known as S.M.A.R.T. goals, is a very important part of a fitness journey. This acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely and serves as a genuine blueprint for brainstorming individualized goals.
The key to enjoying exercise and making workouts sustainable and enjoyable is connecting intrinsic motivation to positive results. Without a clear vision of how exercise can lead to a more fulfilling, healthier life, it can be difficult to see its value.
So, when brainstorming goals, consider questions like:
• How do I want to incorporate physical movement into my life?
• What kinds of activities do I enjoy?
• How do I want physical activity to make me feel and look?
• How much time can I dedicate towards exercise at this point in my life?
• How do I want exercise to impact my vitality, my relationships, my outlook on life?
• What do I want my health to look like in 1 month? Five years? Twenty years?
• How do I want to track progress and what constitutes progress in my eyes?
After pondering the above, create 2 to 5 short-term goals for the next couple of months. Also, consider 1 to 3 long-term goals to keep continuously motivated with an exercise routine.
Write goals down, make them visible, and then practice setting intentions towards achieving these goals before each workout. Humans are very incentivized, so creating individual goals catered to lifestyle is vital for remaining consistent and eager to move!
There are endless ways to exercise at home and still achieve effective results and any type of movement can be beneficial. Contrary to popular belief, activities like dancing, walking, doing household chores and yoga can be equally as healthy as lifting barbells or running for hours.
Really, long gone are the days of believing multiple hour-long cardio sessions or intense bodybuilding strength training are the only effective kinds of exercise.
At-home workout ideas include:
• YouTube workout videos
• Virtual cycling classes
• Live stream exercise classes via applications (some must be purchased)
• Instagram Live cardio workout sessions
• Dance parties in the kitchen
• Stretching sessions
• Yoga/pilates/barre classes
• Walking outdoors (when air quality permits)
• Programmed workouts from Pinterest (best to consult with a professional first, though)
• At-home personal training
• Playing with kids outdoors
• Adult recreational sports leagues
• Bike riding as a family
And so much more, especially with creativity! But remember, the healthiest exercise is sustainable, easily fits into current lifestyle, aligns with values and goals, and uplifts you!
Most Effective At-Home Exercise Equipment
If a more structured approach similar to the gym is desirable, some of the most effective at-home equipment includes:
• Set of dumbbells
• Medicine ball
• Yoga ball
• Box jump
• Jump rope
• Abdominal roller
• Treadmill/cardio machine
• Some sort of app/program/workout guide to follow*
*From a certified personal trainer or other fitness professionals when possible to ensure safety and efficacy
Find equipment on Amazon and other various markets like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, etc.
How to Stay Motivated
It is nearly impossible to feel absolutely motivated to fit in a work out all the time. However, consciously thinking about your purpose, or why for exercising, will inherently help you remain so.
Think of motivation as a muscle that needs to be strengthened. Just like physical muscles require practice (repetition) to grow and strengthen, the practice or essence of motivation does too.
It can be very hard to experience unwavering motivation for anything without practice, without consciously connecting to the why.
Here's a general blueprint to help strengthen that motivation muscle:
1. Accept and be grateful that exercise (the ability to move) is a necessary part of living healthfully.
2. Incorporate enjoyable physical activity into your current lifestyle, whether it be high-intensity workouts that rev the heart rate or slow bodyweight exercises.
3. Set intentions to enjoy, feel good, and appreciate every workout or bout of exercise.
4. Think about your unique, individualized goals while exercising.
5. Journal about how your workout made you feel and how it is bringing you towards your goals.
6. Revisit said journal entries when motivation is running low.
And, if the motivation is dipping low one day, simply explore that with compassion and grace. No one is perfect and everyone will want to skip their planned workout on occasion. That is okay!
But, if one lackluster day of motivation becomes weeks or years, consider seeking guidance from a health or wellness professional.
Although exercising at home may feel second best to a traditional gym, try to think of it as an opportunity. One can expand movement choices, learn new styles, and maybe even make new virtual friends!
Overall, physical activity is part of vital living lending invaluable health benefits, including shedding quarantine weight gain. When implementing the above tips, returning to the gym may seem a little less enticing after all!