It seems hard to believe that we are going into our 3rd month (or is 4th, who even knows anymore??) of pandemic lock down. For many of us, that means yet another month packed with home schooling, working from home, daily cooking and cleaning, uncertain when it will end. Not to mention, we are dealing with the complete shock to our mental system this huge lifestyle shift has caused . For me, maintaining a regular workout routine has been the lighthouse in this storm of upheaval. Even with gyms closed and parks alternating between closure or overcrowding, you can still get a great sweat in at home. Armed with these basic, at- home workout must-haves, I have everything I need to keep moving, build strength and, stay active, during lock down.
At-Home Workout Routine
First I should say, I acquired nearly all of my workout equipment over the years and didn’t just purchase them all at once. As my workout routines diversified and varied, I was able to see what specific equipment I needed repeatedly before making a purchase. I HIGHLY recommend getting a few necessities (see below) and build a workout routine into your lifestyle first. Once you establish a workout routine that you know fits into your lifestyle, you can expand your equipment. THEN strategically purchase those items you know will get used regularly.
Ever since I had my son, I really committed to a daily yoga practice. I started off simply by challenging myself to practice yoga for 365 days in a row. One year of daily yoga practice was all I pushed myself to achieve. Now, over 2 years later, I’m into my 3rd cycle of a #365daysofyoga challenge for myself. I rotated through a number of Yoga apps and Youtube channels before I found what worked for me. Of all the platforms I tried, my go-to “classes” are the Yoga with Adriene channel on Youtube and the Asana Rebel app.
Yoga with Adriene
What I like most about YWA (and there are a lot of things) is the monthly calendars/playlists she provides to guide your yoga practice. The videos do get repeated in different months but not with any sort of frequency to make it boring. Each day’s practice is mindfully chosen based on a theme, the time of the year or specific areas of yoga practice she is focusing on that month. Videos can range anywhere from 6 mins to 40 minutes and are great for any skill level. I love Adriene’s teaching style and every time I come to the mat I find her comforting and challenging enough to help me grow my at-home yoga practice.
*NOTE: I am not part of the Find What Feels Good membership on her website, but if you want the extra content, and added yoga practice videos, I think it’s worth the money. Even if you don’t join the paid membership, you can subscribe to her weekly letter on her website to help you stay motivated, connected and encouraged.
Asana Rebel App
While the YWA videos are my mainstay yoga practice, on days when there is a shorter yoga video or meditation, I like to add in some more yogic cardio and strength training. I have been using the Asana Rebel app sporadically to fill this need. I think the app has changed a bit since I first joined but when I joined there was limited access to free content on the app but you almost always got prompted to subscribe for fuller content and videos. When I signed up for the paid subscription they were running some sort of promotional which made it roughly $60-70 for the year. I honestly haven’t checked recently to see what the current price is.
Once you have a paid subscription the app curates a dashboard for you with daily workout recommendations, course playlists if you are looking to focus on a specific area or skill as well as general wellness trackers for sleep, water intake, meditation and meal planning. I will say these workouts tend to skew more towards cardio and strength training than a traditional yoga practice so it is a very different vibe from YWA. But if you are like me and like variety, this app is a great supplement to your Yoga practice.
Over the years, I have tried so many different at home strength training & cardio programs. I have tried P90X, Beach Body, Physique 57, Pure Barre. You name it, I’ve probably bought the dvd. Whether it was for weight loss purposes or just generally getting fitter, I found it hard to stick with them long term. Either the workouts got stale, they required more specialized equipment than I was willing to shell out for, or the instructors were just…annoying. Whatever the reason, the dvds ended up collecting dust in our TV stand.
However, once we were in full lock down, I found that my daily Yoga practice was not enough to keep me feeling active and fit. Without all the walking from my daily commute and workday, I needed something else to get my body moving. I stumbled on @Madfit.ig on instagram and her choreographed workouts to popular songs got me intrigued. After following her for a bit before I hopped onto her Youtube channel.
I was amazed at how many videos she had (over 250!) and the variety of workouts. During quarantine the channel has averaged about 3-4 new workout videos a week ranging from short, full body cardio workouts to longer, targeted strengthening videos. So whatever your preference, there is little chance of getting bored with the same old videos.
With more time at home, I have added a Madfit workout 4-5 times a week (usually on weekdays) to my daily yoga practice. What I like a lot about these workouts is that she has plenty of no equipment or minimal equipment workouts as well as apartment friendly (no jumping) workouts that still will make you sweat and your muscles shake!
While truly the only “must-have” workout equipment you need to be active is yourself, there is no denying that sometimes having a quality pieces can help motivate you to hit the mat and elevate your workout.
Keeping my exercise equipment in a designated space that is also the space where I do my workouts is key. Eliminating the step of pulling a mat or weights out of a closet and “setting up” for my workout removes one less excuse to avoid it or put it off. To jump start your at home workout routine I would highly recommend investing in a good quality workout or yoga mat. My favorite are the Gaiam Premium 6mm Mats. I like that they don’t slip on my wood floors and are the right amount of cushion and bounce for my cardio workouts. While I don’t use yoga blocks as much these days, I found these to be invaluable when I was just starting out.
Although there are plenty of no equipment workouts on Madfit’s channel, for me, having the flexibility to do weight work has really elevated my strength and stamina in all my other workouts. For me, I like the comfortable grip and precise weight of free weights, as opposed to using household items as weights (though there is nothing wrong with that). Through several apartment moves, having a full gym’s worth of free weights would just be pure absurdity. Instead I have strategically bought compact free weight sets that can serve my realistic strength training needs. The first dumbell set I bought was a 24lb dumbell kit that came with 3 sets of weights in 2lb, 4lb, and 6lb weights. You can find similar kits here.
Those weights served me well for years. But as I got stronger, I needed a little bit more weight. By far one of the best purchases I made for my at home workout set up has been this versatile 40lb cast iron dumbell set. What I love about this set is that it comes with interchangeable plates and weighted barbells. You can make anything from a 8lb weight to a 40lb weight. I have yet to outgrow this set.
To be perfectly honest I’m not the biggest fan of resistance bands. I just don’t ever feel like I’m working the right part of my body with them and I find it harder to keep good form with them. With that said, I do sometimes use them so I got this affordable set on Amazon. Since they all fit in a fairly compact carrying bag, I don’t mind having them sit in my Yoga Mat basket so I can pull them out if a workout requires them or I want a break from dumbbells.
My most recent addition to my at-home workout equipment has been these Booty Bands. I mainly got them after doing a few Madfit workouts that had them as an optional equipment to create a more challenging workout. Based on how sore my legs and glutes have been after using them, I can say they are well worth the money!
All of this equipment fits very nicely in my little “workout corner” of our house. Most of them have traveled with me from my tiniest apartment to our current townhouse. With just a few key pieces of a equipment you really have all you need to stay active, build strength and reach your fitness goal.
I hope this was helpful for all of you and you found something that can help you stay home, stay safe and stay well!