Focusing on fitness can be a welcome respite from the anxiety caused by the coronavirus. Exercise is a known stress reliever that shifts our minds away from things that are worrying us. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, regular sweat sessions can even help reestablish a sense of normalcy for those who are used to having a workout regimen.
But that’s all easier said than done these days. Gyms and fitness studios are likely to be closed for a while. While exercising outside is still a viable option, it’s becoming harder to feel truly safe doing so. That’s why it’s crucial to find indoor options that will benefit your body and mind.
“The main thing right now is just to stay disciplined. If your goal is to continue working out, then don’t use this as an excuse to stop,” said Zack DiBenedetto, owner of New Orleans’ Big Easy Crossfit and part-owner of the F45 Garden District gym. “So, if two or three 30-minute at-home workouts a week is what keeps you going and keeps you sane, then I would highly recommend doing those workouts.”
Thankfully, there are plenty of free or inexpensive ways to get moving, from fitness apps to online plans to easy-to-learn exercises. Below, we spoke to fitness experts and trainers about the best ways to work out within the constraints of our homes.
Try a free Instagram workout.
While most people turn to Instagram for memes, picturesque images and news on what their friends are doing, the social network is also becoming a hub for workouts as many gyms and personal trainers are taking their expertise online during this time of quarantine.
Check your favorite fitness studio’s Instagram account or look through posts from celebrity trainers. Many are hosting workouts or offering tips through their pages, sometimes even for free.
For example, Rumble Boxing ― a high-intensity boxing and weights program ― is doing daily classes on Instagram Live.
“They’re 30- to 45-minute bodyweight and boxing workouts — no equipment is needed. The music is phenomenal, and the vibes are all positive,” said Rob Sulaver, founding trainer of Rumble Boxing and co-founder of the Bandana Training Club. The classes are intended for people of all different fitness levels, even if you’ve never boxed a day in your life, Sulaver added.
Use a hand towel for more than just toweling off.
Slider exercises are ideal elements in a challenging full-body workout. While gyms have a plethora of the small plastic discs that keep your feet from sticking, most of us don’t have them in our homes. Enter your hand towels.
Jamie Promislo, owner of Revel Ride in Philadelphia, said using hand towels can help you re-create workouts that utilize sliders.
“I am using small hand towels as sliders on my hardwood floor and doing things such as mountain climbers, lunges, pikes and hamstring curls. The hand towels work just as well as sliders, in my opinion. If you don’t have hardwood floors, I have heard that paper plates work great on carpet,” Promislo said.
Try a sure-to-make-you-sweat HIIT workout.
DiBenedetto said he often sticks to one high-intensity interval training (HIIT) challenge workout that uses the below movements:
- High knees
- Plyometric lunges
- Mountain climbers
- Drop squats
- Up downs (also known as stiff-arm burpees)
- Bicycle crunches
- Tuck jumps
- Wide mountain climbers
- Pushups (add a clap in between each one for added difficulty)
- Squat pulses
- One inchworm and two jumping jacks
For each of the movements, follow this time schedule:
- First round: Do the movement for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds
- Second round: Do the movement for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds
- Third round: Do the movement for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds
- Fourth round: Do the movement for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds
So you start by doing movement number one ― high knees ― for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of high knees and 10 seconds of rest. Repeat both.
Once you complete your high knees circuit, move on to the next movement, which is lunges, and repeat the four time rounds.
Continue down the list of movements repeating the four time rounds for each. The entire rotation takes about 36 minutes, and you’ll be super sweaty by the end.
Utilize free workout apps or social media videos.
There are a number of options for home workouts on Pinterest and YouTube, which you can find by searching “home workout” or some variation of the term. You can also find free workouts through apps.
FitOn, for example, is a free fitness app that offers a library of exercises, including HIIT workouts, dance classes, barre exercises, targeted toning workouts and kickboxing classes. The workouts range from five-minute blasts to 30-minute-plus challenges. The app even includes a category of workouts meant for small spaces ― ideal for those trying to do cardio inside.
And don’t forget other cult-favorite fitness apps, like Peleton and Obé, which may offer free trials before you need to start the paid version.
Grab a chair for an added challenge.
The floor doesn’t have to be the only surface you use for your cardio workouts. A hard chair can help you exercise different muscles and enjoy a change in positions.
“Use a chair against a wall for dips, reverse lunges, decline pushups and reverse crunches,” Promislo said. Repeat each move a few times and you’ll be feeling the burn.
Get creative with your equipment.
“Don’t be afraid to get creative with your equipment,” DiBenedetto said. “Some resistance is better than no resistance.”
No household item is off-limits. “A bookbag is my number one go-to because you can load it up with however much weight you want and then do a slew of different movements with it,” like bear crawls and pushups, DiBenedetto added.
He also suggested using suitcases, briefcases, paint cans, 12-packs or cases of water to add resistance to your workouts.
Schedule your cardio.
Finally, make a date with exercise. If you’re struggling to get in your cardio workouts and find yourself making excuses, Sulaver recommends putting the time on your calendar to achieve your fitness goals.
“Schedule your workouts. Even though my routine has changed quite a bit, I still schedule my workouts each week in my calendar. It gives some structure to my day and a plan for the week,” Sulaver said.
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