No Gym? No Problem!


Exercise Ideas That You Can Do Anywhere - Including At Home!


We are now about 8 weeks into quarantine and we are definitely experiencing a new "normal" with regard to our daily routines. I have received a ton of questions about how to stay active (and motivated) while at home, so I thought it would be helpful to share some tips and tools that I often use with my clients, along with my favorite at-home workouts, equipment swaps and virtual exercises (using apps and youtube)! Keep reading to learn about how to get your sweat sesh in while social distancing and staying safe!



Find Your "Why"...


I often explain to clients, friends and family members that you should find your "why" for movement before you make your movement plan. What do I mean by this? Research shows us that we are more likely to turn a behavior into a habit if we are intrinsically motivated (meaning that behavior is important to use and we enjoy it), rather than extrinsically motivated (meaning we are driven by an external drive, such as a desire to lose weight). There are many possible reasons why extrinsic motivation doesn't seem to stick, but I commonly see that behaviors driven by extrinsic motivation simply aren't enjoyable or truly important to someone, most often.


So, what is your "why" for carving out time (and some creative ideas) to incorporate movement? If you are having trouble identifying activities that you enjoy and pinpointing how different movements make you feel, I recommend keeping a journal so you can keep track of how you feel before and after different activities and consider which movements get you excited! It may take trying many different types of activities and movements to find those that you most enjoy. But, when you find something that you genuinely enjoy (and something that truly makes you feel strong, confident, more relaxed, etc.) you will be less likely to blow it off and be more consistent with incorporating this activity into your life.


Try An App


Many gyms are currently offering online services that allow you to plug into regular group fitness classes from home. You could also use this time to try out streaming services that give you access to virtual fitness programs. Some of my favorite apps for virtual workouts are below:

  • Peloton

  • Obé Fitness

  • Open Fit

  • Aaptiv

  • Class Pass

  • Pure Barre On Demand (also many studios are offering livestream classes if you are a member, so contact your local studio if you're interested in learning more!)

  • Yoga With Adriene (youtube)


Some of these apps are offering free trials during this time, so it's a great time to try them if you're curious about them!


Tips For Mastering The At-Home Workout


If you’d like to do your own thing at home, I’ll share some of my favorite, basic moves for you to incorporate from your own space. But first, some tips on how to plan your at- home workout:


Make sure you plan ahead and have an idea of when you can fit exercise into your day. I like to "brain dump" my to-do list for the upcoming day into my agenda. I schedule client meetings, admin work, as well as - you guessed it - my workout! Movement is a priority for me to feel my best and manage stress, so I plan which days I will incorporate purposeful movement and when it is likely to fit in my schedule that day. While I like to decide the actual activity I will do that day (based on how I feel), it is helpful to schedule "me time" that I reserve for movement, no matter which type of activity I choose to do. If you're an early bird, I also recommend laying out your workout outfit the night before, so it's easy to slip on and start moving!


Next, find a dedicated space for your exercise. Slide the coffee table out the way, clear out a section of the garage or if possible (and safe at this time), take it outside. You’ll be doubling up on the good vibes with a little activity and Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin)!


You can also find yourself a little friendly accountability. Share your workout plans with a friend and check in daily to see if you’re both on track. Keep it fun, not stressful - and consider working out "together" but at home via Facetime or Zoom!


If you find yourself without much equipment at home, look around your house for things to use. Water bottles can be used as weights for arm exercises and dish towels can be used for sliding plank exercises. You can also grab a bath towel to use as resistance or to stretch your muscles. For example, for a great stretch, try laying on your back, putting one foot towards the ceiling and flex your foot. Holding the towel by one end in each hand, push your foot up, in the middle of the towel. You can pull your hands towards your head to get a stronger hamstring stretch.


For a solid workout at home, check out the below exercises (all very basic and require no equipment or minimal equipment) to help you build strength and blow off some steam!


At-Home Exercises:


Jumping Jacks


This old school exercise is a great staple for your at-home workout routine. I like to use it as a warm up and combine it with other plyometric movements to increase my heart rate. Start by standing upright, with your arms at your sides. As you jump up, spread your legs and reach your hands out and over your head. Jump back into the straight position, repeating.


If you need to modify this due to knee issues, you can also step to each side, returning the leg to the center before stepping out to the side with your other leg. Do this as quickly as you can, without adding a lot of impact, to get your heart rate up.


Squats


Squats target your glutes, hamstrings and quads. It’s a simple, classic exercise that can always be incorporated. Start with your feet shoulder width apart. While keeping your body weight over your heels, push your hips down and back. Keep your back straight, head facing forward, squatting until your knees make about a 90 degree angle. Make sure your knees track directly over your feet.


You can make this harder by doing a jump squat - using the same guidelines as above, jump up while straightening your legs and then land softly with bent knees (do not lock your knees upon landing). You may find that you get a bit lower than with the standing squat, which can provide some leverage for the jump. *I do not recommend the jump squat if you have any knee issues.


Another way to modify this basic move? Add a pulsing move at the end of your set. Do this by holding your start position and "pulsing" quickly - meaning that you will do slightly "shorter" and quicker movements. If this is new to you, start with 5-10 pulses. If you're more familiar with this and looking for a challenge, increase the amount of pulses to suit your needs!


Walking Lunges


The walking lunge is a variation of the static lunge exercise. Instead of standing still, you walk forward by stepping out into a lunge. This exercise strengthens the core, hips and glutes. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips or by your side. Step forward with your right foot, bending your right knee so that your thigh is parallel with the ground. Your other knee (back leg) should be close to touching the floor. Pause then step your left foot forward, bending down and repeating the movement. As you step each foot forward, you’ll be ‘walking’ forward. If you don't have the space, you can shorten the distance and increase the amount of "laps" you perform. Of course, if your space is very limited, the static lunge is another great option!


Plank


The plank is a great exercise because it works all the muscles of your core including your abdominals, as well as your hip and back muscles. Your arms will also be feeling it! Start in pushup position, bending your elbows, move down to balance on your forearms instead of your hands. Work to keep your body straight. If you are not very familiar with the plank, start by trying it for 10-15 seconds and making sure that you keep the correct form. If that becomes too easy, increase gradually. If you're more familiar with the plank, you may want to start by keeping it for 30 seconds -1 minute or more, depending on your form and comfort level.


I love the plank because there are so many modifications. Some examples of plank modifications are:

  • Lift each leg up (one side at a time!) then lower down, returning to start position

  • Yoga plank (instead of a forearm plank, you place your palms on the ground, wrist directly underneath shoulders)

  • Jumping Jack Plank (start in a yoga plank, then "jump" each foot out to the side, as you would with a jumping jack, then "jump" each foot back to center, repeating this for your desired amount of time, such as 30 seconds.)

  • One Leg Plank (lift one leg for 10-30 seconds, depending on your form and comfort level, then lower and repeat on the other side)

  • Use a slider (or a washcloth/dishtowel) under each foot for modifications, such as bringing your knee out toward your elbow or doing a "jack plank" with your feet on the ground, sliding out and in.


Pushups


The pushup is the classic upper body exercise. It helps to strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps and core. From yoga plank position with hands directly under shoulders, lower yourself down until your elbows break 90 degrees, then push back up. Work to keep your body in a straight line throughout the exercise - don't push your bum up toward the sky and don't slouch it toward the ground!


Putting It All Together:


Not sure where to start? Below is one beginner routine and one intermediate routine to get you started:


Beginner Routine:


First, remember to warm up. You can take a walk outside (if safe) or march in place for 2 minutes, transitioning to a jog in place for another 2 minutes.


30 jumping jacks

12 squats

10 walking lunges

5 pushups

30 second plank

Repeat exercises 2-3 times, adding in modifications to make it easier or harder as needed. Remember to take time to stretch when you complete the workout.


Intermediate Routine:


You can do the same warmup suggested above, or try a longer warmup that is more challenging. For a more challenging, longer warmup, try jogging in place for 2 minutes, then jump with "high knees" for 30 seconds, then do "ski jumps" for 30 seconds and end with 1-2 minute(s) of jumping jacks. Or, you may opt to do jog or a run before the workout.


Set 1:

20 squats with 10 pulses at the end

10 jump squats

20 walking lunges *option to hold weights or household items, can hold in place or do a biceps curl as you walk

10 pushups

1 minute plank


Set 2:

30 seconds jumping jacks

20 squats with 10 pulses at the end

10 jump squats

20 walking lunges (same options as set 1)

10 pushups

1 minute plank, alternating leg lifts for the first 30 seconds


Set 3:

30 jumping jacks

20 squats with 10 pulses at the end

10 jump squats

20 walking lunges (same options as set 1)

10 pushups

30 second "jumping jack plank" followed by 30 second traditional plank (1 minute total)


Remember to modify movements to make them easier or more challenging, depending on your needs. Additionally, remember to stretch after you workout!


*This blog contains general information and does not constitute individualized recommendations. Prior to beginning any fitness regimen, please consult your physician and make sure that you are fit to engage in such activity. If you feel unfit to perform this or any other recommended exercise, or feel faint, ill, injured or uneasy while performing an exercise, stop immediately and seek medical attention. If you choose to do any of the exercises presented above, you understand that you are doing so at your own risk and the authors of this blog (and all members of Alyssa Lavy Nutrition & Wellness LLC) will not be held liable for any injury. You are responsible for determining whether these exercises are appropriate for your individual needs and ability.


This article was written with the help of Lauren White Davis, a dietetic intern completing her MS/DI at Pace University and a running and wellness coach.


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