Covid-19 has seen people go through a variety of lifestyle changes. From having to work from home to baking sourdough bread and hoarding toilet paper, our day-to-day routines are a little different than they were when 2020 began. Naturally, without full access to a variety of businesses we have all managed to adapt.
One of the hardest hit businesses has been the local neighbourhood gym. Even with gyms gradually reopening as the phased reopening of the country moves forward, many are still a little uncomfortable with venturing back to the gym too soon.
However, ready or not, I know that I found myself needing to come up with an exercise alternative to counter all of the sitting I’ve been doing in endless Zoom meetings — and all of those high-calorie baked goods we’ve been consuming.
Yes, 2020 has become the year of the Home Based Workout.
In the past, what really kept people going to the gym rather than working out at home has been the encouragement and accountability we feel when we go to a class at the gym, or check in with the trainer at the front desk, or see familiar faces as we go through our routines. Fortunately, with phones and tablets and computers we’re now able to electronically bring our workout friends along for the ride and bring that accountability home. If you haven’t started working out at home and aren’t sure where to begin, here are my top tips for creating a home gym environment:
Step One: Choose a Workout space in your home
This can be a tough one depending on what kind of space you have. Sometimes you may have to do a little adjusting of your furniture, but try to find a spot where you have enough room to move and that won’t require a lot of time to set up each day. Let’s face it, if the set up takes as long as the workout you’re more likely to avoid it.
Step Two: Purchase some basic exercise equipment
Even if you don’t own anything, there are plenty of exercises you can do just using what’s on hand at home — and tin cans, books and jugs of water are excellent substitutes for weights. But, if you’re starting to build your workout gear inventory, start with some basic dumbbells (5 lb, 10 lb, 15 lb, 20 lb are usually a good start for most women …. guys can grab some heavier weights too). Weights usually sell for about a dollar per pound, less if they’re on sale, more if they’re fancy looking. Get creative and shop around to find good deals. Sometimes you’ll find them at stores like Winners, or on Facebook Marketplace or at your local pawn shop. I found my set of 10 pound weights at a pawn shop for $10.
There are a variety of elastic bands that offer great resistance training benefits, lots of workout options, plus they don’t take up a lot of space. If you’re not sure about using bands (or any exercise equipment product), go to YouTube and take a look at how they’re used. You’ll be surprised how much you can do with such a simple piece of equipment.
This is one of the basic pieces of exercise equipment that everyone should own. There are so many exercises you can do with a stability ball! Not only that, they’re inexpensive AND you can even sit on it while participating in your Zoom meetings!
Whether it’s a yoga mat or a padded exercise mat I always recommend having one to use during your workout. Let’s face it, no matter where you’re setting up your workout space the floor is rarely ideal. You’ll either be on a cold wood or tile floor or on a carpet. The mat gives you a nice padded surface to workout on and it’s easy to wipe-down and clean after your session.
Other pieces of equipment:
Beyond the basic there are any number of items you can add to your little home gym. If you see something at a local store that looks interesting, take a moment and google it for suggestions of how you can use the piece. Even inexpensive equipment is a waste of money if you’re never going to use it. Check out things like Kettle-bells and push-up bars, ab-rollers and the like. A BOSU ball is a great addition to your home workout kit. This half-ball with a flat bottom base has a ton of applications in a workout, many encouraging balance and offering an enhanced core workout. One of my favourite pieces of home gym equipment is my set of Liebert Equalizers. These bars offer so many great exercise options! At a cost of about $100 a set they are a great investment if you’re going to be working out at home with any regularity.
**Of course you can invest a LOT more money by buying a treadmill, an eliptical, maybe an exercise bike — Don’t rush into that. Get the basics first! Cardio equipment is great but you can get started by simply taking walks, going jogging, riding a bike or going up and down the stairs.
Step Three: Check out your tech set-up
Almost everyone already owns a device which can give you access to most of the tech offerings which can help you with your workout.
All Smart Phones offer you a portable, easy-to-use portal to a variety of workout options. From YouTube to streaming live classes to connecting with a personal trainer, your smart phone can do it all. All you need to check is that you have adequate data. If you’re working out at home it’s often a better idea to check that you’re connected to your home wi-fi network, usually a much cheaper option than using your cell data.
Make sure your smart phone audio is good. If you have difficulty hearing it, especially once you set it down at a short distance, perhaps you might consider linking by Bluetooth to a speaker, or using wireless earbuds.
A tablet gives you the same functionality of your Smart Phone with a much larger screen. This can be a great option if you want a better view of your workout partner, program or trainer.
This one’s simple. Set up your laptop and you’re good to go. The audio issue is the same as it is with the other devices.
Tripod or Stand:
There are all sorts of tripods and stands on the market. The key is to give yourself the opportunity to just set up your device and not have to carry it or move it as you move. A decent tripod and stand can cost as little as $20.
Step Four: Find classes or trainers or routines you enjoy and commit!
There are a ton of workout options available to you. One of the cheapest and easiest options is to simply use YouTube, or Google. There are all sorts of free workouts available!
If you want to specialize, you can do that too. Maybe you really miss your favourite yoga studio. Go to their website and have a look. Over the months of shutdown many yoga studios instituted online classes and are continuing them even as the studios reopen.
Finally, if you really want to make a commitment and get one-on-one support and instruction, find a personal trainer. Once only available to people visiting a gym or willing to travel to a designated facility, many trainers now make themselves available via services like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, etc. There’s no better way to really learn a good, personally designed workout than to engage a professional.
However you do it, hang in there and keep on working toward your fitness goals!