Tips for Working Out at Home

Since the COVID-19 social distancing policy has taken effect, many, many of us have taken our workouts into our home. This is a great move since exercise can serve as valuable stress relief and it also helps support a healthy immune system. At Well & Simple, we’re lucky that our intern, Nicki, is a personal trainer and she wants to offer some valuable advice to those of you bringing your fitness routines home.

Mindset

First and foremost, we need to address the mental and emotional components here. Be gentle with yourself during this time. It’s important that you not put excess pressure on yourself and set reasonable goals and expectations, especially during this difficult period. There are going to be days when you just can’t bring yourself to workout. That’s OK. There are going to be times when you feel like you’re not performing the way you want to or used to. That’s OK too. And there will be days when you’re feeling awesome and nailing your goals. That’s great! Your worth as an individual is not tied to how much you work out or how well you stick to your diet plan. You’re also not required to lose weight or hit a new PR while in quarantine. 

In terms of athletic performance, most people can’t get the same workout at home that they can at the gym. That’s just a fact and that’s totally fine. It doesn’t mean you can’t get a lot of benefits from it though. Set new goals for yourself and be open to trying new exercises. 

Form

Safety first! When you’re working out alone in the comfort and privacy of your home, you’ll naturally feel more comfortable since no one is watching you. This can be a good thing as you may feel more confident and more bold when it comes to trying new exercises. However, this comes with a risk when it comes to form. Having good form isn’t just about getting the most out of your workout, it’s also about protecting your body from injury. Without an instructor or someone else there to check your form, it can be easy to let it slip. If you can, do your workouts in front of a mirror in order to keep an eye on your form and take your time through each exercise so you can take stock of your body positioning. 

Equipment

Want to do some at-home workouts but worried you don’t have the equipment you need?Not a problem! There are plenty of things that you can still do with just your body or with ordinary objects.

  • Towels and a smooth surface
    • This can act as a homemade “slider” and you can do many things with it! Knee tucks, mountain climbers, lateral lunges, etc. These are used in all kinds of fitness classes and workout videos.
  • Water jugs/laundry detergent
    • If you don’t have any weights, you can improvise with heavier objects with handles. Save your water gallons, milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, or similar containers to fill with water. You can do lots of weighted exercises with these such as rows, lunges, squats, farmers carries, etc. What’s great is you get to adjust how heavy they are!
  • Stable furniture as a bench or otherwise elevated surface
    • Having a stable elevated surface adds more depth to bodyweight exercises. You can do step ups, incline or decline pushups, elevated bridges, etc. These are also great if balance is not your strongest skill or if you’re doing a workout class, like barre. 
  • Stairs
    • Stairs can act as your elevated surface, or you can do things like stair runs, or even create a whole leg workout on them. The possibilities are endless.
  • Canned goods
    • If you’re looking for lighter hand weights, using canned goods or 16-oz water bottles are a great option. They fit easily into your hand and offer some added resistance to your movements.
  • Old panty hose or leggings
    • If you’re looking to workout with resistance bands but don’t have any, old panty hose or leggings will work in a pinch. You can use these as a regular resistance band or you can tie them together to create a loop band to add resistance to your legs exercises.

Focus on Endurance and Basics

When in doubt, just keep it simple! Now may be a good time to work on your muscle endurance by doing high reps of low weights. This will improve your strength down the line. Working out at home is also a great time to work on “the basics” like core strength and functional fitness to keep you moving better and getting stronger. 

 

Remember, we are all just doing the best we can with what we have. Just getting moving in general is awesome. So, please, do what you can, listen to your needs, and hang in there.

Why Do I Get Sick When I Start a New Gym Routine?

You’ve started hitting the gym regularly. You get 3-4 good workouts in a row in and then you get sick. Why does it seem like you get sick when you start a new fitness routine? You’re not alone and this is an actual thing – it’s not just your body betraying you, though it may seem like it.

So let’s look at what’s going on when this happens and the steps you can take to stop it from happening to you next time.

Stress on Your Body

While exercise is really good for your body, it is also a stressor on your body, especially if it’s different or more vigorous than you’re used to. That stress on your body can temporarily run down your immune system, making you more susceptible to germs and viruses. It’s similar to how your immune system can get run down if you’re lacking in sleep for too long. Think of it this way: your body only has so many resources to allocate. If it needs to move more resources to exercise and recovery, it has fewer resources to allocate to your immune system. So if you’re already sleep-deprived or exposed to a lot of pathogens, then you could get sick when you start a new intense fitness routine.

Gyms are a Germ Pit

I’m not being dramatic- they are a germ pit. Unfortunately, most people do not thoroughly wipe down their equipment after use. This means you’re sharing whatever they left on the treadmill before you. Free weights in particular are the dirtiest piece of gym equipment. In fact, one study found that free weights contain more than 300 times the germs found on a toilet seat. Sorry, but you needed to know. It makes sense when you think about it – how many times have you seen someone actually wipe down the weights before they re-rack them? Exactly. Never.

Your fitness classes are also very germy places. Yoga mats in particular are fantastic incubators for a number of infection-causing bacteria. And you can’t count on your neighbor wiping down her equipment as diligently as you do.

Add to this germy mix a rundown immune system and you have a perfect equation for a fitness de-railing illness.

Getting Enough Rest

For many of us, early mornings are the only times we can fit a workout into our busy schedules. Your body needs enough sleep to maintain all of its critical functions, including your immune system and healing. If you are just starting out with a 4 or 5 am alarm to get your workout in, that adjustment period can make you more vulnerable to getting sick if your body is accustomed to getting more sleep. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night when you begin cutting into that morning snooze to help prevent yourself from getting sick when you start your new fitness routine.

So what can you do to end the vicious exercise-sickness-exercise cycle?

Tips for Keeping Healthy

  • Wipe down your equipment BEFORE and after use.
  • Avoid touching your face until you’ve washed your hands thoroughly.
  • Bring your own towel . Some gyms transport their dirty and clean towels in the same bin, thereby recontaminating the clean towels with bacteria.
  • Try to make sure you wipe your face with the side of the towel that hasn’t touched the equipment. You can do this by putting a mark on one side of your towel or using a towel that has a pattern on one side.
  • Ease into your new workouts instead of running headlong in so it’s less of a strain on your body. You can do this by taking more modifications in your first class or starting your runs shorter or at a slower pace, for example.
  • Do what you can to support your immune system – drink lots of water, take your vitamins, get enough rest, and eat lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Make sure you are fueling your body. Eat healthful, whole foods rather than overprocessed, prepackaged foods lacking in nutrition.
  • Make sure you clean off your own personal yoga mat regularly as well. It could be carrying germs from the last time your were sick and all that sweat on it can breed bacteria. Plus, it goes on the floor where people’s dirty shoes have been as well.
  • Listen to your body – rest when you feel tired, give yourself enough time between workouts, don’t push it if you feel like you’re overdoing it.

Once you’ve gotten over this hurdle, be sure to check out my tips for keeping yourself motivated to workout so you can keep up the good work!