Last year, I moved from a small city in New Hampshire to a tiny rural town. Suddenly, the nearest gym — the student center at a small college — was a 20-minute drive from my house. If I wanted a facility with amenities like classes or child care I had to drive 45 minutes away.
Needless to say, I’ve been utilizing home workouts even before social-distancing. I still love the gym (although mine is currently closed). However, I’ve realized that it’s totally possible to have a great workout at home, even without dedicated fitness equipment.
This is especially true during the coronavirus pandemic. As the country practices social distancing, more and more fitness apps are waiving membership fees, allowing people to get the physical and mental health benefits of exercise even while we’re all stuck at home.
Over the past six months, I’ve learned some tips and tricks for working out from home:
• Keep your routine. Without a specified class time or rigid work schedule, it’s easy to let your workouts slip. So, keep yourself accountable and stick to your routine. For me, that means working out in the morning, before I begin working from home at 9 a.m.
• Get outside when you can. Home workouts are effective, but getting out (when you can do so maintaining social distancing) is still important. I try to get my cardio in outside, where I get the benefits of sunshine and fresh air as well as exercise.
• Don’t let lack of equipment hold you back. I have no dedicated workout equipment. Yet, with a little creativity I’ve found it’s easy to adapt workouts. Stairs can double for a step or box jump. A gallon of milk weighs about 8.5 pounds and is great for curls. A toddler will delight in being your extra weight during squats.
I love following workout videos and prompts. Sometimes, while my kids play outside, I’ll do an impromptu countdown workout (for example, 50 jumping jacks, 40 bicycles, 30 squats, etc.), but my best home workouts come when I’m following a professional. So, while you’re stuck inside or your gym is closed give these streaming workout services a try:
• Fitness Blender: This is my go-to site. With no background music or peppy motivation, I find it less annoying than some other options. Plus, I love being my own DJ for my workouts. You can choose a video based on the time you have, what equipment is one hand, or what type of workout you’re looking for. Best of all, it’s always free.
• Peloton: Although they’re best known for their (very expensive) spin bikes, Peloton offers much more via its app. You can select spin, running, or even yoga workouts. Normally, the app is $12.99 a month, but right now you can get a 90-day free trial, which just might be long enough to get you through until the gym reopens.
• Daily Burn: Daily burn streams live 30-minute workouts 9 a.m. EST every day. Having that start time is a great way to keep yourself accountable. However, if it doesn’t work for you, the workouts can be streamed later in the day. I love that the group workouts tend to reflect a variety of body types and abilities, and that you never know what’s in store. Daily Burn costs $6.99 a month, with a free 30-day trial.
• Planet Fitness: Planet Fitness has an app with 500+ workouts, but during the COVID-19 crisis the gym is also offering free live-streamed “Home Work-Ins” every day at 7 p.m. EST. The workouts are available for free at any time on the gym’s Facebook page.
As we all adjust to working (and working out) from home, take time to find a fitness routine that works for you. Remember that getting exercise will benefit not only your physical health, but also mental health and anxiety levels.
Kelly Burch is a freelance writer covering finance, family, business and more. When she's not behind the computer she enjoys exploring the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire, where she lives. Connect with Kelly and read more of her work on Facebook or Twitter.