Do you want to train but you don’t have time or money to go to the gym? Do you go there but you’d want to reduce the amount of days? You can also get results at home! You just need space, motivation and minimal equipment.
Make sure you create a space ample enough to move easily through it without crashing into things when you work out. Ideally it would be a place where you can control the entrance of natural light (shutters, curtains), but not so dark that you have to use artificial light, since it gives off a lot of heat. In winter, watch out the radiator so it doesn’t get too hot, and in winter you can use air conditioning (be careful with your throat), fans, or open the windows of that room and another one in the house so you have air moving.
Sometimes it seems like that space doesn’t exist, but often we can create it: if fitness is a priority for you, don’t search among the free spaces in your house which one’s the best, but search what’s the best space in your house and free it for its new function. It’s also important that it isn’t a transit point or where your family or flatmates are going to need to be while you work out. But, again, to solve this it’s much more useful to sit and talk and establish schedules to use the rooms or redistribute the things that are in each one, rather than to try to search for the ideal place.
In short: change the circumstances instead of trying to make the current ones suit the new thing you want, and the impossible will become possible! (this tip is actually helpful for everything you decide to undertake).
You have the space and now it’s time to train. But for many people the problem of doing it at home is the lack of motivation and the distractions, that make them “leave it for later” indefinitely. Four elements will help you get down to it:
Imagine you had signed up for some classes at the gym. You’d have to show up there at that hour and organize your day so you can arrive. Block your time to work out as if it was an external class.
Search for energizing music and create your playlists with services like Spotify or YouTube Music. Training like that is much more fun and the music rhythm encourages to keep the exercise rhythm. In addition, if you choose music that you only listen to in that context (not the one you have always in your phone), when you turn it on your mind will identify that it’s time to train and it will help you to cut off distractions.
My recommendation is that despite being at home, you use cute training clothes. They don’t have to be expensive, or super good (except the shoes); but we all know that when we wear an outfit that makes us feel good, it boosts our self-confidence and we triumph. It’s the same with sports: dress good to feel good!
This is doubtlessly the most important point. Nothing will work if you’re forcing yourself to do an exercise you loathe. You can use social media and mass media to get inspiration, but never let them manipulate you: don’t feel bad if you don’t like the fashionable exercise that everyone seems to be enthusiastic about, or feel condemned to do a boring exercise because you’ve heard it’s the one you have to do to reach your goal. It’s essential to find a way of moving that you enjoy and fills you with energy; workout time should mean having a good time, not a tedious time (note: don’t confuse tedious with hard or difficult).
It will also be good to have a plan, to avoid losing the time blocked to workout in thinking what to do next all the time. I suggest, at least when you’re starting, to follow some program (there are free ones, like Elena Malova —in Spanish, the most thorough of the three—, GymVirtual —Spanish— or Darebee) or count on the help of a personal trainer. In addition, watching videos and even more counting with professional feedback, you can check that your form is the correct one and avoid injuries.
Most of us don’t have the money or the space to buy gym machines for home; for that reason, all the products I’m going to talk about are cheap and small. I buy almost everything at Decathlon and it works great for me. In fact, if we add up the prices of all the equipment, the final result is less than 80 £. When you walk into a sports store, you can see a lot of cool stuff, and although the products you need will depend on the kind of exercises you do, I think the next ones are the essentials:
Absolutely fundamental. It would be very very strange that you didn’t need it: it’s not only for yoga, but you should use it for all those movements that require to place any part of your body —except your feet— on the ground: planks, crunches, kneeling push-ups, hip bridge, etc. You can cause a lot of damage to your joints and back if you place them directly on the hard ground. You can use one that you maybe have at home if you’ve been to mountain trips, but if not, since you have to buy it, it would be convenient that it was anti-slip.
For training specifically lifting weight as well as to take to a new level those movements that you usually do with body weight, such as squats, lunges, hip bridges, etc. I don’t recommend to buy 0’5 kg/1 lb or 1 kg/2 lbs dumbbells since you can easily use water bottles or something similar you have at home, and anyway if you keep on working out you’ll probably have to buy heavier ones at some point, so it would be a waste of money. I have 3 kg/6,6 lbs and 5 kg/11 lbs dumbbells, and I consider it’s good to have 2 of different weights to alternate between them depending on the difficulty of the exercise.
Also known as Swiss Ball or pilates/yoga ball. It’s a very fun tool to add variety to your workouts: try to make your crunches on it, to sit on it to lift weight, to put it between your back and the wall to do squats, to pass it from your hands to your feet doing abs, to practice balance making planks on it, to lift it over your head and do… whatever you want! Really, it seems like you aren’t going to use it a lot, until you have it. It’s advisable that when you sit on it, your feet reached the ground with a 90º angle in your legs.
4. Elastic resistance bands
They’re great to add resistance and make more effective exercises such as squats or leg abductions, and they also work for training arm strength, stretching them in different directions. There’s a great variety of models available: longer, shorter, with different resistance… Mine have as a special feature that it’s divided into 8 handles, so it’s easier to adjust where to place it or how to grab it.
Known by that name because of the most famous brand that makes it, the generic name is suspension training. It’s my most recent purchase and it’s been totally worth it. It allows you to do a great amount of exercises only with your body weight and train all the body, being at the same time challenging and entertaining. Really, it’s incredible how a pair of straps can go such a long way! Counter to what it seems when you see it in the gym, it’s very easy to “install”: you just have to place it at a door that closes well and that’s strong, in the opposite direction of where the door opens to, and you can put it and remove it each time you want to.
6. Ab wheel
Ok, this isn’t indispensable, and in fact the one I have isn’t mine, but borrowed. The #6 would be, actually, a “whim” to train specifically whatever you like most: kettlebell, bosu, medicine ball, step, jump rope, or maybe something bigger such as a treadmill or an exercise bike (only if you really like them, not because you believe it’s the way to burn more and more calories). Or even something more innovative like a hula-hoop! You can increase little by little your equipment collection as you progress and see what you’d like to include or, if you know other people that work out at home too, a very fun idea is to swap your stuff to try new exercises.
Those are a lot of aspects to take into account, but they’re all actually very easy, and you can start to work out at home this very day: create and reclaim your space, fill yourself up with motivation, and begin with your own body and maybe something you have around there (a pillow as mat, two rice packets as dumbbells…). And let’s sweat and enjoy!
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