Creating an At-home Workout
These days we’ve all been forced to get creative when it comes to our workouts. While I’ve been enjoying time outdoors, riding my bike, and walking on nature trails and through the city (I haven’t owned a car in over a decade), many are wondering how they can keep up their workout routines now that gyms and yoga studios have been closed for weeks. And while things will eventually return to normal, it may take a while. I’ve always loved working out from home—mainly with burst training videos and online yoga classes. But, it does take motivation and a healthy dose of self-discipline. In this article, I’d like to talk about the ins and outs of an at-home workout routine for those of you who may be new to this style of exercise.
One of my most favorite ways to stay movin’ and groovin’ has to do with yoga. It’s a mind-body-spirit discipline I’ve been practicing for over twenty years. I simply cannot imagine my life without it. Generally speaking, I’m not one to spend money at a yoga studio, given my frugal lifestyle as a freelance writer. Instead, I typically subscribe to an online yoga website. A few of my favorites are Glo.com., Gaia.com, Yogavibes.com, and YogaAnytime. They’re really reasonable when it comes to pricing, and most have so many teachers and classes within the realm of all different styles of yoga and meditation, you’ll find it really hard to ever get bored. And if you don’t want to spend anything at all, many teachers post videos on YouTube for free. I’ve practiced with them when the budget’s been tight, or when I simply want to mix things up. Creating an at-home yoga practice can be really fun. It allows you to practice when you feel like it. You also don’t have to get dressed up in yoga pants. Do yoga in your PJ’s!
An older woman I took a yoga class with the other day (we were taking our weekly social distancing yoga class in a neighbor’s front lawn) complained about missing her in-studio Pilates classes. While I don’t practice Pilates on a regular basis, I understand its benefits—especially for those wanting to maintain strength and length as they get older. Some of the more high-impact workouts and even weight training simply don’t work well for many men and women as they age. Pilates is the perfect workout for them, and one we can all do from the comfort of our own homes. Like yoga, online Pilates classes abound. A few websites with excellent online pilates classes include: PilatesAnytime.com, Pilatesology.com, and Glo.com. If you’re looking for free classes, search YouTube for classes. With time, you’ll find an instructor you like. Pilates is a wonderful low-impact exercise that allows you to build strength, improve muscle length, and also work on breathing exercises that build immunity. I highly recommend it as an enhancement to your workout regimen, no matter how old you are.
My other go-to stay-at-home workout is burst training. Also known as high intensity interval training (HIIT), burst training can be done in a short amount of time (20 minutes is the typical duration of my workout), and from any room in the house. You don’t need a lot of space, as most exercises can be confined to a yoga mat. You can also create a 10-20 minute burst training sequence on your own. Use the timer on your phone, and take your workout outside. I’ve often done my own twenty minute burst training sequence on a nature trail. Breathing in the fresh air while working out intensely is a great way to boost your immune system and build your heart muscle. This is another at-home workout routine that doesn’t need a gym. I highly recommend this anaerobic form of exercise just 1-2 times per week.
If you can’t get out and get a massage or a myofascial release session with a bodyworker, giving yourself a myofascial release session is an ideal way to work the fascia and connective tissues of the body. So is yin yoga, for that matter, which you can also do from home. When it comes to self-myofascial release, you may want to invest in a few props—namely, myofascial balls and a roller. They don’t cost much, and they’re well worth it. Like yoga, Pilates, and burst training, you’ll find free videos online that take you through various myofascial release techniques. You can target various parts of your body with these videos, or follow one that gives the entire body a deep healing session. You get to choose! And only do as little or as much of the video as you wish—another plus to self-care from the comfort of your own home!
Even studies like this one, published inThe Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, show the health benefits of this deep form of self-massage. One of the highlights of this study has to do with the body’s innate ability to heal itself. This is what I love about natural wellness. And myofascial release is no different. We get to take our health into our own hands, rather than relying upon someone else, or a medical system that doesn’t jive with our own values and beliefs.
Yet another simple at-home workout involves a set of dumbells or free weights. We all need to continue to build muscle mass, especially as we get older. It’s so simple to do this from the comforts of your home. All you need to do is create an effective weight training workout based upon your own particular needs and fitness level. Or, if you simply want to follow a routine with an instructor online, look for strength training videos on Youtube. They’re totally free, and the teachers know their stuff. With so many workout videos to choose from, you’ll never get bored! I like to find a short video—say twenty minutes or so—and incorporate that video into my weekly workout routine. I’ll follow the strength training video twice a week, leaving time to do other forms of exercise to fill in the rest of my days.
Getting out in nature
A DIY workout routine certainly needn’t be contained within the confines of your home. One of the healthiest places to work out is in the great outdoors! Moving like our ancestors did (always outside) isn’t just healthy, it’s downright fun. It’s also innately relaxing and even healing. Breathing fresh air is better for your lungs than is breathing in the stagnant air of your home, especially because toxins lurk inside more than you might realize. And, then there’s the vitamin D factor. Getting regular sun exposure is an essential part of maintaining good health as we age. Our bodies (and minds) need vitamin D from the sun. Notice how much better you feel on a sunny day under bright, blue skies, in comparison to a cloudy, rainy one. That’s vitamin D working its magic on you.
Plus, so many forms of exercise we do on our own actually need the outdoors. Take biking, as an example. It’s way more fun to get outside and ride your bicycle than it is to bicycle on a stationary bike at your house or inside a gym. You get to experience the breeze on your skin, the beauty of blooming flowers, and a community feel as you pass other cyclists, walkers, and joggers on the road. You can turn your workout into an adventure each time you take your bicycle out to play. I’ve recently purchased a really nice bicycle—one with which I can travel the world with. And I intend to do so! The pleasures of cycling are endless! I encourage you all to invest in a good bicycle and, rather than taking your car to the grocery store or to run errands, take your bike! It’s a much more interesting (and of course, healthy) way to get from place to place. Why not give it a try? You might find you don’t even need a car anymore! What a freeing way to live!
Have fun with goal setting
Taking time to consider what exactly you want to accomplish with your DIY workouts is a great way to get (and stay) motivated. Consider what your goals are. Do you want to lose weight? Lose your belly fat? Maybe you want to build strength and muscle, becoming a toner version of your current self. Heck, maybe you even want to train for a marathon, a triathlon, or long-distance travel by bicycle. Figuring out what your goals are will help you create a routine that’s ideal for you.
Perhaps all you really want and need is to reduce stress. In this case, yoga, swimming, and taking leisurely walks and bike rides in nature might be your perfect mix of activity. Maybe you want to overcome a fear. For some people, that goal might be to overcome the fear of swimming in the ocean. So, you plan for a trip to Hawaii, and start working on various swimming strokes locally, in a lake or swimming pool. Do heights scare you? Get yourself a mountain bike and start training on hills close to home. Then start planning your bicycle adventure to the Rockies! Goal setting possibilities are truly endless.
How much time do you have?
Another piece of this working out at home puzzle has to do with time. What’s your schedule like these days? How much time do you want to dedicate to movement? Maybe you have all day. Perhaps just 20 minutes a day. All schedules will work. For example, let’s say I have a full plate. I have children to care for, a house to keep up, and a job. Where’s the time to exercise? In this case, 20 minutes of high intensity interval training, (also known as burst training and sometimes tabata), two times each week is a great place to start. Add in some short yoga routines after you get the kids to bed and voila! You’re on your way to having created a suitable at-home workout perfect for your schedule.
Maybe you’re retired, and you’ve got all day to play. Great! Why not get yourself a fantastic bicycle, and a set of bike route maps from a local bike shop? Pack a picnic lunch and hit the nature trails. You can bicycle (at a leisurely pace) all day long if the time and desire is there. You can do the same with walking. This is a great way to live if you have the time. By the time you get home in the evening you’ll feel so great, you’ll eat, drink, and sleep like a baby. Then repeat.
Chances are, your schedule is somewhere in the middle. If you can dedicate 45 minutes to an hour each day to your workout routine, that’s great. You can do a yoga video one day, take a good bicycle ride another, and lift weights another. Throw in some burst training or short walks outside, and you’ll feel better about your body in no time. Always remember that every day will be different. Life is full of surprises. Don’t get down on yourself if you’re not able to workout as long as you intended. Just pick up the pieces tomorrow!
As you can see, working out on your own can be really fun. You don’t need to rely upon a personal trainer, a gym, or even a yoga studio. With time, the only person you need is you. This fact, in and of itself, will give you more self-reliance and self-confidence than you had before. There’s nothing like taking your health into your own hands. And there’s no better time to do it than now! In the end, you are your best doctor. All you need is the knowledge and discipline to be your body’s personal healer. Which is my wish for you!
As always, have compassion for yourself when beginning a new routine, and setting new habits. These things take time, and it’s good to take baby steps. In the end, you’ll have created something sustainable. And that’s what matters!