Last spring, summer and fall I had been taking two mile walks about five times a week with my husband, so I let my YMCA membership expire. I wasn’t crazy about the place anyway. People do really gross things in the pool locker rooms and the process of dressing for it, schlepping over there, working out, schlepping home and into the shower always felt like a lot of time wasted in the schlepping part. Also it smelled bad. The truth is that I am a lot likelier to actually do my fitness routine if all I have to do is throw on my sneakers here at the house and GO.
Pre-injury I was giving strong thought to joining a Jazzercise class near my house and I may still do that, but I’d like to be in slightly better shape (read: less likely to melt into a puddle of sweat) before I tackle the social anxiety of working out in a group setting. All the benefit I obtained from miles upon miles of walking with Ted are now gone as though they’d never been. Yay for entropy.
Still, I returned to a regular fitness routine a little over a month ago and have come up with a couple of cheap, in-home methods for getting in some daily burn.
1) You Tube It: Turns out people post workouts on You Tube. I searched and found a number of interesting aerobic routines ranging in beginners low impact to Latin dance to hip hop to my personal favorite: Fit for Duty. Fit for Duty is a bunch of marines doing aerobics and they’re about as uncoordinated as , well, me… which makes it both comforting and kind of funny at the same time.
2) The House Jog: I fully admit this is a weird one but it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s jogging around your house. You don’t have to go far forward to get the high impact benefit of a jog, you just have to get your feet off the ground. You can do it more or less staying in one place. When I’m feeling particularly uninspired I literally do it while watching something on TV. During commercial breaks I sort of flail back and forth across the house. Goofy as heck, but if a sweat is worked up I figure that’s the point of the thing.
3) The House Dance: Again it’s exactly what it sounds like. Pull up your best dance playlist from the MP3 player, set a timer, and pretend you’re out at a club. There’s a reason why people get dressed up and go out dancing, it’s actually FUN.
4) Floor Work: If you’re not sure what exactly to do this is something else that can be obtained for free on the internet. Do some research and put together a routine of leg lifts, crunches and push ups and don’t forget to write it all down so that you know what you did last time. When it gets easy, you add more reps or new exercises. Also, get a yoga mat. Floors hurt.
5) Hand Weights: As above, do some research on arm exercises, get a set of weights, and pump some iron. You don’t need a huge variety of them because as it gets easy you just add more repetitions, or double up and hold both weights in one hand. I use eight pounders, which may sound high – but I’m Scottish and we’re just stronger than most people. What? It’s true. If you don’t want to shop it is possible to use bottles filled with water or rocks I guess but honestly – hand weights are not that expensive and since they’re shaped for holding it’s a lot less likely you’ll drop one on your foot.
6) Walk: This is your body’s natural form of locomotion so it’s always a good idea. You don’t even need a treadmill, you actually burn more calories walking on sidewalks because you’re dealing with obstacles and correcting balance over uneven surfaces. It’s true that rain, snow or scorching heat can put a crimp in this – but that’s what all the indoor suggestions were for. It’s really good to switch things up now and then anyway to make sure you’re working out every part of yourself evenly.
It’s very important that you keep a journal of what you’re doing along with your progress. That way over time you can see when it’s time to add more, how much more to add, what worked for you and what is not so effective. Every BODY is different and the process of learning what works best for yours is difficult, but very worthwhile.
Be kind to yourself. If something hurts, stop. Injury has been my biggest obstacle to maintaining my workout routines. I push too hard, I get hurt, and then I stop for awhile and revert right back to my former state, having to start all over again. Exercise is like housework, it will never be done so you need to pace yourself for a lifetime of it.
Gyms can be great, and for some people they’re the perfect workout solution. Most likely one day I will join another one. However if money is tight, there’s plenty you can do around the house or your neighborhood that will give you great benefit and not cost you any more than a pair of gym shoes.
Remember: Eat less, move more.