If you’re like many, chances are your home has taken on multiple different functions this year, from an office to a classroom to a movie theater to a gym. You might have also learned that space is a luxury when your home has to be so many things all at once, which may make you think that you just don’t have the space or equipment to create a worthwhile gym at home. Likewise, with so many demands placed on you and your space, you may find it hard to switch from relaxation or work mode to gym mode.
That’s why it’s less about the equipment and space and more about mindset when it comes to creating a quality gym experience at home, says Jim Myers, director of Digital Fitness/Virtual Coaching for FX Well, a managing entity for the Texas Health fitness centers.
“Working out or going to the gym is a time to focus on YOU,” he explains. “But that can be challenging if you are working out at home since there are more distractions at home or ‘more important’ tasks you could be doing instead. At home, it’s important to make that mental shift from ‘this is my home’ to ‘this is my home gym’ during whatever time you’ve set aside. Remind yourself that this is a time to focus on making yourself better and you can’t do that if you are thinking about making dinner, doing the laundry and the fact that the grass needs to be cut.”
Because that can be easier said than done, we asked Myers for some tips to create the best workout experience at home, whether you have a full gym, some basic equipment or none at all.
Tip No. 1: Set SMART Goals
A lot has happened this year and you may have learned how to adapt on a moment’s notice because of it. That may also mean your goals for this year have changed as well, and the same can be true for fitness goals as your environment and access to equipment has changed.
Myers says it’s important to sit down, assess your goals — and be realistic with your time, energy, motivation, and access to equipment. That starts with what he refers to as being SMART:
“What this should look like is making your goal as specific as possible to your current situation and still making it relevant to you,” Myers explains. “Ask yourself ‘how can I get back to what I was doing before or something like that?’ Be as specific as possible and make it something you actually want to achieve – not what anyone else wants you to achieve.”
Additionally, Myers says it’s important to make your goal something that is attainable — and be realistic.
“Attainable means something that’s within reach; you don’t want it to be kind of so far gone that you can’t get there,” Myers explains. “Make sure it’s reasonable to achieve within one to three weeks, then set a new goal for the next one to three weeks.”
Some things to think about are:
- What does your current schedule look like?
- What do you think you’re going to do to keep yourself accountable?
- What are some things that you want to do and how are you going to get there?
“It is important to always be evaluating your schedule and determine what is realistic for you,” Myers adds. “Maybe you were working out two times a week before but now that you are staying home you can get a third or 4th day in. Maybe you are walking less because you aren’t leaving the house as much. In the beginning of quarantine, I barely left the house and noticed my steps were way down. I started to take walking breaks, walk and talk in meetings that I was able to do and did mini yoga and stretching breaks in the middle of my day to increase movement. Find ways to build movement into your current situation.”
If you are unsure what to do, the THR Virtual Membership has your covered! Get access to 40+ live streamed virtual classes a week and the FX Well Digital Fitness app. The FX Well Digital Fitness app provides you with a workout of the day and a variety of goal-based programs such as weight loss and increasing lean muscle. All workouts on the app can be done from the comfort of your own home or in a gym. Click here to view our membership options.
Tip No. 2: Create Your Space
While space is a luxury, dedicating a space in your home that can be geared towards exercise is important because when you step into that space or zone, you’ll know it’s time to work and focus on you. Myers even suggests naming your “gym” to give the space a sense of ownership and to make it feel separate from other parts of the home.
“Make sure the space is clean and inviting to you,” Myers says. “Set up your equipment how you like it. If you have a mat, put that in a specific spot; if you have some bands, put those in a specific spot. Make it similar to how your zone may be set up during a class or at the gym. Play around with that until you feel like you have a space that feels good to you.”
While working out at home may have some downsides for you compared to the gym, Myers says to embrace the perks of working out in the sanctity of your home. Play whatever music you like and play it however loud you want. Want to exercise while watching your favorite show or movie? Go ahead! Always wished you could workout in your underwear? Do it— but maybe clear it with any people you share your space with first. Embrace anything that will make working out at home a plus for you because it’s something you maybe can’t get away with working out elsewhere.
Tip No. 3: Keep Your Workout Functional & Challenging
When designing or following a routine, make sure it’s functional. That doesn’t just mean ‘something I can actually do’ but it also means the routine covers all the bases of things that make us functional people every day. Think about how many movements or motions your body has to perform a day doing basic tasks such as loading laundry into the washer, opening and closing doors, carrying groceries, bending down to tie your shoe, etc. While it may not be initially apparent how much “work” goes into performing those daily things, if you neglect an area, it will get weaker, and then those easy daily tasks will get harder with time.
That’s why Myers suggests focusing on workouts or a series of workouts that have exercises that cater to push and pull motions, squatting, hinging and bracing, and overall conditioning of the body.
“These movements or things that we can train help out with daily life, but if you’re practicing functional movement patterns like these, you’re going to be able to keep up with your exercise routine for a longer period of time and stay healthy,” he says. “And keep it simple; if you just perform one or two of these movement patterns in every workout that’s not only an easy way to organize your workout but it ensures you’re hitting all aspects of your body.”
Myers suggests trying exercises in the chart below, starting with Level 1 and working your way up. Click here to learn more about the FX Digital Fitness app.
I think the first thing people need to think about when considering bodyweight training is taking a look at their technique,” he adds. “Step 1 is ensuring that you can perform the easiest variation of each movement correctly. Once you have that down you can move on to more challenging variations. Each movement has a variety of regressions and progressions that make the exercises move difficult.”
As far as equipment goes, unless you have a sweet home gym set up you are going to need to evaluate the exercises you can do with the equipment that you have. Try and determine the exercises you can do with the limited equipment that you have that are challenging, then work towards getting better at these exercises. This can be holding a position for a longer period of time, doing more reps, or resting less between exercises.
Tip No. 4: Build a Support System and Have Fun
This has been a challenging year and having support in achieving your goals is just as important as setting them. Myers suggests telling the people you are close with that you are focusing on yourself and your wellbeing. If you tell someone you are working on a goal it will be easier to explain when you have to miss out on something to work out or when you are picking healthier choices during a meal.
“Then try to take it to the next level,” Myers adds. “Try to get people in your support system to try your workouts with you. Have them join virtual fitness classes with you, like the ones we offer through the Texas Health Fitness Centers, or try out the same program on the FX Well Digital Fitness app. Having the extra support is great for the days you are not feeling it and great on those days that you want to brag about the progress you have made!”
Most of all, Myers says to not focus on achieving the exact same environment you have at the gym, because for most, having that amount of space and availability of the same equipment is not reasonable. Instead, focus on what is important to you and then have fun with it.
“The gym and your at-home gym are different things and that is OK. They both have their pros and cons,” Myers says. “What is really important is that you take the time to enjoy working out at home. That might mean getting some new equipment, creating a new place in your home that feels inviting, or working with a trainer or following a plan that you love. The most important thing is that you are spending time working on yourself. This has been a tough year and exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mental and physical health and boost your immune system.”