Given that so many gyms and fitness studios are now closed across the globe, people are looking for ways to work out at home and outdoors now more than ever. Provided you’re feeling well, exercising can help break up the day, energize you and provide a sense of normalcy.
While the novelty of exercising in a new environment, without any of the usual equipment, can be exciting at first — maybe even a fun challenge — home and outdoor workouts can quickly get stale.
Here, tips on how to stave off workout boredom when the gym isn’t an option anymore.
When you’re social distancing, packed workout classes — even ones held outside with lots of space between exercisers — are out. Luckily, there are tons of streaming fitness studios and video workouts available online.
Some trainers are even doing free workouts on their social media channels, so it’s worth checking your favorite fitness accounts to see what they’ve come up with. Mix it up with different instructors and workout styles to keep things interesting.
No matter what type of workouts you’re doing at home, keep making things harder as you get fitter. “If you have already made significant progress in your routine, then it may be a good time to start progressing,” says Ben Gildenberg, certified strength and conditioning specialist and coach at New York Sports Science Lab.
You might add one extra circuit to your workout or go from incline pushups to regular pushups. “Make it varied and entertaining, and challenge yourself so you can keep the momentum going,” Gildenberg adds.
“There’s nothing like creative incentives to breathe life into your workouts,” says Jennifer Nagel, a fitness coach. So try to think of fun ways to reward yourself for “showing up” to your home workouts.
“First, choose a series of simple, quantifiable goals, such as completing three 30-minute strength-training workouts this week,” Nagel suggests. Write them down, and put them in a jar. “Second, write down a series of rewards for completing your goals.” These could be anything that feels fun right now, maybe purchasing a new book or watching an episode of a TV show you’re trying not to binge-watch. “Each week, choose a new goal and incentive from each jar to make reaching your goals exciting.”
If you’re not already doing circuit workouts, they can work wonders for keeping things both quick and interesting. They can also help translate gym workouts to home workouts.
“For example, take four or five exercises from your normal routine and do them back-to-back with no break in between,” says Lisa M. Ranieri, a personal trainer. “Rest for 2 minutes and repeat 2 or 3 more times.
Ideally, you should add both upper- and lower-body exercises so you get a quick and total-body workout.” A note on translating gym workouts to home ones: If you normally do back squats, sub air squats. If you usually do bench presses, try pushups instead. Because you’re doing the movements back-to-back, they can still feel challenging without weight.
There’s nothing wrong with having body goals. But they might not be particularly motivating — now, or anytime, really, according to Courtney Virden, a trainer and coach. “Creating a goal such as more energy, correcting posture or better movement patterns helps us focus on something positive we can achieve without tying it to our physical image.”
GO OUTSIDE (BUT KEEP YOUR DISTANCE)
Workouts are still a valid reason to leave the house. That means you can exercise outside. Walking, running, hiking and cycling are all fair game — as long as you stay at least six feet away from other people. It’s best to avoid exercise parks, as the equipment is a great place to pick up germs and viruses.
If your runs or walks are feeling monotonous or easy, and you have hiking available in your area, try ruck pack hiking, where you carry a pack with sandbags or weights inside.
“Since it isn’t hot yet, spring is the ideal time for this more intensive hiking approach,” explains Jeremy Kring, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. As you hike, Kring recommends making mental notes of scenic areas to revisit on a more leisurely hike come summer.
Bringing Fido along can also make outdoor workouts more fun, with the added bonus of providing them with some excitement after being cooped up in the house. “I’ll take my dogs for a jog along a river to a boat landing,”
Kring explains. “At the boat landing, the dogs can walk to the river’s edge for a drink, and I get a quick breather.” Plus, you’ll get to strengthen that owner-pet bond.
For those who had outdoor workouts in their rotation long before social distancing became necessary, mixing up your routine is essential. “If you’re used to doing the same routine for quite some time, you should change things up,” says Tim Liu, a certified strength and conditioning specialist.
It could be as simple as changing routes, stopping at a park bench to get some strength work in, or varying the terrain. The same goes for those moving their workouts to a home environment. “For example, if you’ve been doing full-body workouts, try an upper-body or lower-body day instead,” Liu suggests.