At Home Fitness Tips & Equipment

Now that we are all social distancing, the gym is temporarily not a safe place. While I’m going to miss lifting heavy I NEED endorphins to keep my cool. A time of heightened anxiety mixed with a lack of exercise could put me in a state of panic. Luckily, the only equipment required to work up a sweat is your body so for those of you on house arrest, voluntarily quarantined or just don’t feel like leaving your house I’ve put together my five favorite ways to move outside the gym.

*Disclaimer – I am not a doctor or medical professional. Please check with your physician before starting any new workout programs.

**All Amazon links in this blog post are affiliate links.

Yoga With Adriene

Yoga with Adriene is my favorite way to wind down after a long day. I’ve rambled about Adriene on here a couple times but she is 100% worth the hype. She has a yoga for everything! Yoga for when you are hungover, yoga for when you are anxious and some faster paced yoga when you want to get a sweat on. Adriene’s at home yoga programed is designed to require little to no equipment – you honestly don’t even need a mat. I’ll be relying heavily on her yoga videos to keep me sane during my voluntary quarantine.

Blogilates

Cassey Ho, creator of Blogilates, was the first fitness influencer I found. My first ever blog post on here was about starting her program PIIT28 back in 2015. I’ve tried all of her programs at this point. In college I loved her apartment/dorm friendly workouts and post grad she helped wean me back into fitness with the aforementioned PIIT28 program. Cassey is 110% pep! Even though her workouts are no to low equipment she can make all of your muscles burn in a 15 minute video. At this time I personally recommend her free sample PIIT28 videos or anything from her apartment friendly series.

Home HIIT

If Cassey isn’t your cup of tea but you still want to get your sweat on there are SO many other home cardio options. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is my go to cardio. It’s quick, effective, equipment free and still kicks my ass. Some of my favorite fitness influencers who post free HIIT routines are Natacha Oceane, Whitney Simmons and Nikki Blakketter but honestly if you search on youtube SO MANY will come up. If you really want to challenge yourself with HIIT you can purchase resistance bands on Amazon to up your strength.

We also invested in a pull up bar, foam roller and some yoga blocks to help us stay agile while we are sheltering in place.

Play Outside

This only works if the weather is nice and you’re not literally on house arrest BUT nothing boosts my mood and lowers my anxiety more than being outside. I used the word because there is so much more you can do besides walk and run. While right now you may way to avoid touching things like monkey bars or slides, there are still other ways to get in that sunshine. In addition to running you can stretch in the sun, practice a walking meditation, sit outside or go on a bike ride. Sunshine, when we have access to it, helps lower tension and increase endorphins. Apologies if you are trapped in an eternal winter – things will get sunnier eventually.

Dance Party

In the end it’s all about getting your heart rate up and burning off a little tension. If blasting David Bowie and shaking your butt is what makes you happy then hop to it – no need to formalize anything. This is especially helpful for all my fellow extroverts out there who are slowly losing their minds being trapped in their houses. Dance it out babies! Or sing it out! Lay on the floor and roll it out – whatever feels good for you!

These are my top tips for keeping your body moving while we practice social distancing. I’ve posted about this on my Youtube as well. Video included below.

It may feel like a strange new world out there but at least we can keep ourselves healthy and happy with a little in home movement. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas on how to beat cabin fever. I’ll be dancing in my living room if you need me.

Movement as Medicine – Move Your Body a Little

Movement as medicine and trying the Feldenkrais method. 

At 10:30am on a Saturday morning Brenton willingly accompanied me to a dance studio. Why? So we could try a Feldenkrais class. Feldekrais method is a movement class focused on moving your body in the most natural way. I highly recommend starting your day with a class like this if you can; it was so relaxing. 

This class, which revolves around small movements and lying on the floor, triggered a breakthrough for my relationship with movement. Little movements are just as important so we can use movement as medicine for our bodies and minds. Want to reap the benefits of movement? Carry on reading! 

Movement as medicine for the body. 

I have chronic upper back pain. What started as a tweaked shoulder at 18 has turned into years of massage therapy, doctors visits and tiger balm. I’m not a doctor, but I did notice my pain increased anytime I stopped working out completely. After doing a little research I’ve discovered that 80% of adults will experience back pain. According to the ACA one of the best ways to combat and prevent back pain is to move (“Motion is Lotion” is my new favorite catch phrase from this research). While lying on the floor in our Feldenkrais class the instructor reminded us that our movements did not need to be big, they needed to feel smooth and natural. I love the imagery this provides. When you move your body in a way that feels smooth, and only to the point where it is easy to return to your starting point, you are providing lotion to your tight muscles and joints. 

Not only is there some valid commotion about motion and our joints but there’s also validity in the importance of movement and our immune systems. According to this study as little as a 20 minute walk can boost your immune system. What I love about this is that it proves that small and slower motions are beneficial for the body. You don’t have to run a half-marathon to reap the benefits of movement in your body. 

The Feldenkrais Method

During a Feldenkrais class you dive in to the fundamentals of movement by laying on the floor and being lead through small movements, starting with the neck and moving down to the soles of the feet. The instructor had us go from moving one segment of the body to moving multiples at the same time. An example of this would be laying on the floor with your feet planted and your knees towards the ceiling, then moving your head one way and your legs another. With each movement we were told to focus on how our bodies felt; was it easier to move our legs and head to the left or right? How far over could we take our knees before we had to start using extra force? We built from there but the premise was the same, small, natural movements. 

Movement as medicine for the mind. 

Focusing on movement has changed my physical body significantly but it has changed my mental health even more. I find slow movement, like this Feldenkrais class or Yin yoga, excruciating at times because I JUST WANT TO WIGGLE AND MOVE. The small movements force me to live presently, and notice the smallest changes in my balance and focus. Classes like this are meditation for those of us who struggle to sit still. It’s amazing for my nervous system and creativity. 

My one true movement love will always be high intensity exercise. Whether its weight lifting, HIIT, or plyometrics creates dopamine, serotonin and all the happy hormones. This is amazing for my mental health because as Elle Woods said “happy people don’t kill their husbands”. 

Let’s move! 

So, have I convinced you? Assuming you have the privilege of being able to move, try moving! Go for a run, a walk, or just stand for 5 minutes in your house. Do it if you can and let me know how you feel! 

But Really Though Tries- Pilates with the Reformer

While visiting B’s family in Southern California for Christmas (a fate I would not wish upon my enemies WHERE ARE THE SEASONS SOCAL?) we were invited to try a Pilates Mix class on Christmas Eve. I jumped on this opportunity because I have always wanted to play with the pilates machine (formally known as the REFORMER, sounds scary doesn’t it?). Prior to this, my only pilates experience has been through Cassey Ho or the tragic time my mother asked me to help her with WindsorPilates at home VHS (she still hasn’t forgiven me for taking her request to straighten her leg so literally). So you could say I was walking into the class blind.

The studio was doing a free 8 class pass so we bought the passes online (for a $5 initiation fee smh) which seemed reasonable enough if you were a local and able to use the pass in its entirety. Pilates rule number one is apparently that you have to wear weird little toe socks so I borrowed a pair. After we got set up, we set foot (well butt actually) on the reformer. The reformer is the most fun I’ve ever had using a machine in the fitness world. It may look intimidating but it’s really just a flat slide. The machine itself is a lot of fun and seems like it would lend itself to some crazy intense workouts.

The instructor was nice but it kind of felt like she was phoning the class in (in her defense it was Christmas Eve and she probably pulled the short straw to be there). Usually, when I try a new fitness class the instructor spends some time asking about fitness levels and explaining the machine but she had us just hop right on.

Even though I was most excited to try the reformer, my favorite part of the class was actually with a different piece of equipment called a springboard. This is literally just a board on a wall with numbers and springs to use for resistance. See image for a better idea of what it is and how it works.

Unfortunately for B and I the class we chose was a little calmer than the usual pilates class. We left with tight cores but definitely not sore. It was a lot of fun, but it was only 50 minutes which wasn’t enough time to work up a sweat with the movements chosen for that class. I would definitely take the class again but I would probably try for a different instructor or a different style of pilates. I like my workout classes to feel like they kicked my butt.

Have you ever tried pilates? What are your thoughts on the reformer? Do you think I can by a springboard somewhere? Let me know!

Flirtations in Fitness: Trying New Workouts

I’m bored. Not with my job, friends or life – no, I’m bored with my workouts. My boredom has lead to a lack of fitness motivation that nearly rivals my former lifestyle choices with my main man Dom(inos).  

Luckily, I haven’t let this boredom completely deter me from my running/lifting schedule but it has made waking up in the morning to get my workout in damn near impossible. Because of this consistent boredom I decided to shake things up. Over the last month I have tried out multiple public and home fitness programs. I’ve officially gone from bored to sore. Below are my thoughts on the programs I’ve tried.

barre3
Image belongs to barre3.com

Barre3

Barre3 is a cardio and strength building class that takes place in what looks like a ballet studio. Since I assumed, from the look of the room, that this class would be mostly ballet with some mat work I decided to take this class on a lunch break. Barre3 is nothing like ballet. Barre3 is the hardest cardio class I have taken to date. The entire hour is filled with upbeat pop music. I started sweating about three minutes in and left drenched. The lunchtime class crew was beyond friendly. The instructor took the time to make sure I understood the moves and it was the most enjoyable cardio I have ever done. The downside to Barre3, like most workout studios, is the price. Even though the class was $22 I will definitely be taking advantage of their new student deals and buying myself a class pass.

 

 

cardiobarre

CardioBarre

I walked into my beginner CardioBarre class thinking it would be a lot like Barre3. Once again, my assumption was amiss. CardioBarre is taught by former dancers, making it slightly lower energy and insanely more difficult on my calves. The relives killed me!  The studio is carpeted but beyond that is the same as a true dance studio. The CardioBarre studio I went to had a slightly less fun loving attitude about it than Barre3 but what it lacked in energy it made up for in strength training. I would highly recommend CardioBarre to any former dancers, like myself, who want to get a good workout in while triggering nostalgia of their dancer days. The only negative about CardioBarre is that the beginner class was insanely difficult; I would be terrified to try the advanced class. Or I am horribly out of shape. It’s probably the latter.

 

 

PAOLA .jpg
Don’t these abs inspire you? They inspire me!!!  Image from Pao’s Fit World. 

SSBM by Paola Marquez

SSBM is an acronym for “Strong & Sexy Body Method” a guide by Paola Marquez. I have Paola’s guide as an ebook on my phone and there is only a one time fee of $69.98 to purchase the book.  The pro to the ebook is that you can click on the assigned moves from the workout and watch Paola demonstrate the moves. The workouts vary between HIIT training and light weight training. The plan is for 6 days a week with 5 days of planned workouts and a sixth day of LISS cardio. This workout plan is good for those who want to start light weight training and need help on where to begin. The workouts are succinct and definitely work, but by week 3 I was beyond bored of the workout style. I still use these workouts to supplement my usual routine and for days when I don’t want to lift heavy.

 

 

giphy
Actual footage of me trying to keep up in CardioBarre and Barre3 – at least I’m having fun! 

I’m insanely proud of myself for turning to new workouts instead of the couch. Its super important to love your workout, or at least enjoy it, to stay motivated. This little experiment has reminded me that I do really well in group fitness classes and I am more likely to challenge myself when I feel like people are watching me. My competitive side has come back out along with my new love of Barre classes. Although, this former ballerina is still getting her ass kicked in them.

What are some of the ways you get out of a fitness rut? What are some of the fitness classes you’ve tried?  I’m thinking kickboxing may be next on my list. Self-defense and a workout in one sounds like a bargain!

 

Trying the Fitness Diet

My March goal to take action was intended to mostly be political but being a type A- personality I had to one up myself mid month and make it physical.

 

I’m an amateur runner. I’ve done a couple half marathons, 10ks and hikes but I am not the perfect example of a runner. Every weekday after work B (boyfriend) and I go to the gym. B and I run 3 miles at the gym at least twice a week and a mile every other day when we go in to do weight training. While this is great and my body is getting fitter, it is really wreaking havoc on my social life. I want to skip happy hours and other engagements to go the gym and after the gym I barely have time to make dinner and hang out before bed.

StockSnap_EE8A129965
This is not at all what it looks like when I run, but an image of the MOON didn’t seem aesthetically pleasing.

So, after months of careful fitness consideration and many failed attempts before I am COMMITTING to getting up at 6am to run or do yoga every weekday (allowing more time in the evening for weight training and hanging out). I have recruited B as my inhouse accountibilibuddy and Kate as my over the phone motivator. I kept a daily diary accounting the results and difficulties I’ve faced during the first seven workouts below:

 

Day 1:

I started this on a Thursday to allow myself a couple days of getting up and then immediately reward myself with a weekend. This morning wasn’t the worst. Waking up when the sun is still sleeping is hard and running in the cold is semi-uncomfortable but finishing 3 miles before 7am really jump started my day. B had time to make us coffee in the morning, I had time after the run to do my makeup and not feel rushed. Most importantly I had that high that only crazy people who work out in the morning have. I only had one cup of coffee the entire day and I was still pretty energetic.

 

Day 2:

My arms were sore from the gym this morning. My lungs did not want to cooperate and some monster flowers are in bloom so I only made it 2 miles this morning…but I did do it…and I didn’t complain too much when B woke me up. TGIF my friends.

 

Day 3:

I have decided on a MWF running schedule with a TR yoga/rest day/weight training after work. B has agreed because he is always a good sport about these things. So run it is. Sunday night I had horrible, mundane but exhausting, anxiety dreams. I woke up exhausted, confused and mad at B for waking me up (how dare he make me follow through with my commitments). I somehow managed to put on running clothes and run (albeit a little slowly) our 3 mile loop. My only motivator was coffee this morning and boy was it not worth it. I remained weirdly groggy at work all day until around 3pm when I finally got my head in the game. I’m praying for rain on Wednesday so I can get out of my new “diet”.

 

Day 4:  

Thank the Lord it is YOGA DAY. Waking up was still insanely difficult but climbing onto my mat was so much easier than preparing to go outside. I was still a little sleepy throughout the day and had a significantly lesser high from yoga than from running but I think I’m slowly adjusting to this lifestyle.

 

Day 5:

I begged B to let me stay in bed this morning. I prayed for rain…but no…there I was at 6:15am halfway down the street giving B the silent treatment for “making” me get up (I warned him before we started this that he would have to force me from bed every morning and apologized in advance for the dramatic comments I make when the alarm goes off). By mile 2 I had forgiven him. I was thrilled that by the time we finished our 3 mile loop the hardest part of my day was over.

 

Day 6:

Today my plea for 5 more minutes was greeted with a rather rough no…so I got out of bed and dragged myself to the yoga mat. The YWA video we chose involved a lot of half moon/ balancing practice so I had to do a lot of yoga for the brain to keep myself standing and awake at the same time. I may have spent a vinyasa or so in child’s pose…but I did it! B chanted “Day 6, Don’t Quit!” at me after we finished the video and giggled at his own rhyme so I guess getting up was worth it.  

 

Day 7:

I officially have bragging rights after finishing my Friday morning run (and evening leg day) although I tried to hide my head under the covers and pretend that I was part of the bed. This did not fool Detective B who TOOK THE COVERS AWAY (monster, I know) and refused to let me have another 5 minutes. I was too tired to put up much of a resistance and before I knew it I was a mile into my run.

 

I DID IT! A ginormous thanks to B for making me get up. If it takes 28 days to make a habit I am ¼ of the way to this being a permanent part of my life.

 

Action packed March is almost over, crazy, right?

 

How are you doing on your goals?