Are you dreading the thought of home workouts again?
We’re all confused about whether we should follow government guidance advising that we just continue our lives as normal or follow our own intuition and avoid socialising before Christmas. While the general consensus is that large scale parties are off and lateral flows are in, where does that leave our workouts? After all, gyms are full of other people, and it’s hard to avoid germs when sharing kit. But staying fit is important in the midst of a health crisis, and many people want to continue with as small a slice of normality as possible – particularly before going home for Christmas.
In a quick straw poll on Instagram, 51% said they were still going to the gym or classes, whereas 49% said they were avoiding fitness spaces. It’s a divisive issue, perhaps because home workouts are still seen by the gym set as a horrible compromise.
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But there are a lot of people out there who are feeling smug right now – those who loved home workouts anyway, who found their groove during 2020’s lockdowns and never went back. Those are people we can learn from. We asked them to share their top tips on learning to love – or, at least, not hate – home workouts. These were the most common answers…
How to enjoy home workouts a little bit more
Don’t replicate your gym training
Rather than thinking you have to adapt your gym training to suit home workouts, it might be best to see them as something entirely different – a whole new experience helping you build a different set of skills. That might be frustrating if you were someone who was chasing a goal that can only be hit at the gym, like a one-rep max. But contorting your workouts can be a recipe for frustration – you probably won’t perform the same at home as you do in the gym, so maybe you shouldn’t try? Instead, this is your time to try something totally new: swap your weight lifting for something more functional, like Zuu, or your HIIT class for a heart rate rising dance workout.
Train in your underwear, blast very uncool music out loud, sing and dance between sets… whatever it is that you usually can’t do in the gym, do it right now.
Start with your favourite thing
A great tip from strength coach James Lee is “it’ll either spiral into a session or, in the worst-case scenario, you can walk away having done at least one thing you enjoyed”. Whether that’s a certain exercise you know always makes you feel good, a video you like or a walk around the park, prioritise the fun things – the rest of it can be done later or not at all.
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Opt for low intensity
You might think that your home training needs to be super hard to make up for the lack of fancy kit or steps that come with a visit to the gym. Actually, opting for lower intensity movement might make it feel more manageable – particularly if you’re already stressed. Many people said they were switching HIIT and heavy strength training for more slow, stretchy workouts – like pilates or yoga – this time round to avoid burnout and injury.
Move all day
Can’t face a structured workout? Don’t do one. Instead, little bursts of movement can help. A set of press-ups when you go to the toilet, some star jumps while the kettle boils or a walk around the block while logging into a virtual meeting are ways to keep your movement up without balancing on a yoga mat for 45 minutes. One friend told me that in the first lockdown they would move during the ad breaks while watching TV – three sets of squats, then 15 minutes rest, then three plank holds, and another rest. It might not yield the best fitness results, but they swore that “exercising all day works. It means if you’re feeling a bit lazy you can do a set, have a break and wait for the motivation to return, then go again.”
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Make the most of your kit
Most of us stocked up on something to get through home workouts in the first lockdown, from a simple yoga mat to a full-blown selection of weights. Now that we’ve gone back to the glistening lights of the gym, it’s easy to forget how useful this equipment that we spent our hard-earned money on really is. I, for one, have ankle weights that used to make lower body workouts feel confusingly hard, but that I have since turned my nose up at. I’ll be digging them out again.
For Stylist’s Morgan Fargo, home workouts offer her more efficiency than the gym: “Last night, it got to 7pm and I wanted to put dinner in the oven, work out, have a bath and call my bestie. I did 30 minutes of pilates in my joggers with a sports bra on while the oven preheated and dinner started cooking, then ate immediately, hopped in the bath straight after and gabbed with my friend. If I had to travel to the gym I wouldn’t have been able to multitask in the same way.” If it’s the satisfaction level you’re craving, this is the way to go. What feels better than ticking all of your boxes while improving your fitness?
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