There have been a few moments during this pandemic that make me think, “Clearly, this is what I’ve been training for.”
Working from home? Been doing it since Dubya was in office. Meal planning? Maybe I haven’t been great at it, but it’s something I’ve been trying to do for years — although I have to admit that having every single meal at home is … kind of a lot.
But my friends and acquaintances aren’t coming to me with questions about setting up a home office or figuring out meals — they’re asking me about workouts. Not just what to do, but how to actually do them at home. And I’ll admit, my initial reaction — especially to friends with whom I regularly go running or to the gym or to yoga — maybe wasn’t super helpful.
Buckling down to do a challenging workout at home just isn’t something I struggle with. After all, I like my workouts. I look forward to doing them. And right now, when I don’t have other pressing plans or responsibilities (other than, of course, making yet another meal, omg), setting aside some time after work for a workout is pretty much automatic.
However, I get it — it doesn’t feel that way to everyone, and for those who have had to make the switch from working in an office to working from home, and maybe also having to share an office and perhaps suddenly home school their kids … yeah, I super get how that is an entirely different situation. And I probably can’t change that, but I have spent a little time talking to people about what, exactly, is holding them back, and I’ve got a few tips for getting into your home workouts that I hope will help you get the most out of whatever it is you choose to do at home.
Getting the Most Out of Your Home Workouts
Create space — both in your home and your schedule.
I know everyone has a different situation within their home, but if possible, truly clear out the area you need for the workout you’re going to do. Move furniture, clear away toys or laundry, and bring in whatever equipment you’ll need. Maybe even roll up a rug if you think it’ll get in your way. The more you can make it feel like a physical space designed for your workout, the easier it’ll be to get into that mindset once you begin.
But it’s not just that physical space — it’s also the mental space, so knowing that your schedule is otherwise clear from the beginning until the end of your workout is key. Is your family able to leave you alone when you go to the gym? If so, ask them to please show you the same respect when you do your home workout — or to join you, if that’s an option (and they won’t complain and distract you from what you’re there to do). I find that dogs really like to lay on whatever mat I happen to be using, but, in my pup’s case, she also moves immediately when I return to the mat, so unless I’m swinging kettlebells and am worried about hitting her, it doesn’t bother me. However, if your dog distracts you or gets in your way, put her in a different room for a little while. You’ll be reunited soon enough.
Start out short and sweet.
Maybe you’re used to an hour-long boot camp or a 75-minute hot yoga class and feel like anything shorter isn’t worth your time — but let me tell you, that’s far from the truth, especially if you go all in on a HIIT type of workout. Jenn’s been sharing her garage gym workouts, many of which are in the 10-15 minute range, and I think we all know she’s no slouch. So, if committing to a shorter workout helps you feel more inspired to get started (or just makes it easier for you to work into your current schedule), start out by committing to 10, 15, 20 minutes — whatever you’ve got. There’s a reason many of the workouts on some of the popular streaming workout apps are in the 30-minute range, after all. And hey, if you finish your 20 minutes and feel inspired to do more, go for it!
Sweat solo, but not alone.
I mentioned streaming workout apps (you can find a bunch of options here), and that’s because, while I’ve created plenty of workouts to do around my house, I often default to using a streaming service because, frankly, sometimes it’s really nice to have someone else making the decisions and telling me what to do. When I’m doing a workout through an app or a streaming video, I treat the trainer on there like an in-person coach — including cursing them under my breath, but mostly, I act like they can see me. If I wouldn’t want to let them down or act like I’m phoning it in during an in-person session, I won’t do it here because I’ve made up my mind to treat it the same way. To take more of the decision-making away, look into programs offered by whatever service you’re using so that each day, you show up and have a workout already selected for you.
Enlisting friends can also help you feel less alone. Maybe that means you set up a Zoom meeting so that you’re all doing the same workout together in real time, or perhaps it’s just a text thread where you check in with each other once you’ve done your workout to provide some accountability (or to ask for a little motivation on days when you’re not feeling it). Of course, this only works if everyone is equally committed, and it’s important to remember that nobody can make you get sweaty, so don’t set up an accountability group and expect it to magically do the work for you. You’re still the one making the decision each day. But, it can help — and it can feel pretty great when you’re all sending virtual high-fives!
Keep it simple, sweetie.
If thinking about your usual gym workout with all the circuits and equipment and various times and reps has your head spinning, well, that’s fair. There’s a reason we pay trainers and gym classes to come up with — and lead us through — these workouts, right? Choosing just a few basic bodyweight moves and doing several rounds of circuits can be extremely effective. Doing more, doing them faster, or adding weights (if you have them)/explosive movements/single arm or leg options will add to the challenge. And remember, literally any kind of movement is something, so try not to get too hung up on whether it’s exactly in line with what you’ve been doing at the gym. This situation is temporary, and if you have to reduce the weight on your back squat by a bit when you return to class, well, I think we can all admit that we’ve got bigger concerns right now, right?
Be kind and generous.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the world is kind of a dumpster fire right now and if you’re not exactly feeling like your normal self, that’s pretty understandable. It’ll probably feel good to keep getting your heart rate up and working your muscles on the regular, but if you have days when that seems insurmountable, don’t judge yourself too harshly. We’re all working through this the best we can, so if you need an extra rest day here and there, love and trust yourself enough to take it.
What other tips would you offer? Or, if you have an issue that’s not addressed here, let us know what’s getting in your way and we’ll see if we can help! —Kristen