NEW YORK (MainStreet) Let's be honest: whether it's the never-ending "polar vortex," or merely just not wanting to commute more than 20 feet, most people find reasons as to why they can't make it to the gym as often as they'd like. Busy schedules, kids, and other commitments also hinder our workouts, because personal time is usually one of the last things on the list for which we make time.
Now that we're at the close of winter and heading into the cusp of spring, our bodies are internally telling us to quit being so lazy. For those of you who require a proper "workout environment" equipped with legitimate fitness tools in order to have what you consider to be a successful workout, have no fear. Slap on the spandex, lace up the sneakers and head out...to your living room.
Create a workout space. Alycia Darby, a certified fitness trainer and the creator of the Get a Better Body home workout program, recommends that you first create a space in the house that is the designated "fitness area." Whether it's a corner, a wall, or an entire room, be sure to leave all of your fitness gearsneakers, equipment and even your iPod in that spot. That way, when you're motivated to start, everything is already in one place, making it easier to get you going.
According to Darby, a home gym can easily consist of any of the following: a few dumbbells, a step, a chair, a jump rope and a resistance band. There are many exercises that can be done with these items, and they are not so large that they'd take up all the extra room in your workout area.
Make a plan, or don't! Stay motivated, but give yourself a bit of wiggle room as far as times of the day and time allotment. If daily obligations make it difficult for you to plan even just one consecutive 20- or 30-minute workout, don't get down on yourself if it's 8 p.m. and you haven't had your chance yet. Len Saunders, the author of Keeping Kids Fit, recommends "commercial-cizing" as a way to get your exercise in while still getting to enjoy your weekly episodes of "Scandal" and "Revenge." Exercise during the commercials! Whether you decide to jump rope, run in place, or do jumping jacks, Saunders explains that this could add up to a lot of exercise each night. Other options include multi-tasking throughout the day: do some stretches in bed, use the wall or the countertop for standing push-ups while cooking dinner, or carry heavy items up and down your stairs while doing laundry.
Make it fun. While exercising, do things that you enjoy, so that you view it mentally as a fun activity rather than an obligation. Karen R. Koenig, a licensed psychotherapist and expert on eating disorders and healthy weight management, shares her own view on exercise: "I so value my time on my aerobic exercise machines as a way to take a break in my busy schedule to read. The time is fun and goes by quickly, because I'm picking up a story from the day before and am much more focused on reading than on the effort I exert on the treadmill, elliptical or bike." If you are lucky enough to be able to invest in a cardio machine, then go for it. If, however, you aren't, there are still alternative options when it comes to equipment that can enable you to flip through a magazine or zone out to your favorite music. You'll soon begin to look forward to your exercise time as an enjoyable experience rather than just a time to sweat.
Have kids or pets? No problem. Incorporate them! Depending on the age of the child(ren), or the age/personality of the pet, there are different routes you can take. For pets, you can simply just walk them, run with them or even play fetch with them, and you'll have your daily workout before you know it. With babies, you can pop them in their jumper for 20 minutes and exercise right in front of them. Your baby is probably the only person in the world who can laugh at you without embarrassing you. For children who are more mobile, you can put on some fun music and have them exercise right there with you! Jenn Mitchell, certified personal trainer and blogger at Comeback Momma, finds that kids often love being active with their moms. She notes that calisthenicsjumping jacks, sit-ups, push-upsare usually the best types of exercise to do with kids, because they are all simple to learn and do not require equipment. A dance party is also a great idea. Put on some music and shake what your momma gave you.
If you prefer working out alone, Boston-based personal trainer Aimee Borda offers different advice when it comes to exercising and parenting. "As an in-home personal trainer, one of the things I do is to teach my clients how to work out at home with minimal equipment," she said. She further explains that training clients with kids is a challenge, but is doable. "One thing I always suggest is that they make a 'play time' for the kids while they're training," she said. Borda suggests that her clients have their kids play with their toys or watch a movie so the parent can concentrate on the workout. She also makes an important notewhile the trick is to keep the kids busy, this doesn't always work.
Sometimes you do have to take breaks to tend to the kids, and this is O.K.
Looking for home-friendly equipment? The following tools are all expert-recommended, inexpensive, and easy enough to store.
- Kettlebells like these are fairly inexpensive, priced at $49.99 for three kettlebellsa 5-lb., a 10-lb, and a 15-lb. If you want to start with just one, this 7-lb. kettlebell listed at $24.99 is great for beginners and also comes with an introductory training DVD and booklet from the seller, Sport Chalet.
- Free weights of of this type are simple to work out with and come in various colors and weight amounts. Weights are a less expensive choice when compared with kettlebellsa pair of free weights at 2 lbs. each comes in at around $6, while a 5-lb. kettlebell goes for approximately $15. As the weight increases on the free weights, the price also increases, however. This 8-lb dumbbell priced at $11.99 for a single weight from the same seller, Dick's Sporting Goods.
- Weighted hula hoops are also a great exercise tool. This hoop, found at Target, allows fitness lovers to add up to 3 lbs. of weight as stamina increases. Priced at $34.99, the hoop comes with an instructional exercise DVD that teaches proper hula hooping methods for cardio and strength purposes. Bonus: it can be broken down for storage!
- Resistance bands are a popular home exercise tool as well. Resistance bands can be found at almost any seller, but these ones found at Amazon are a fairly inexpensive price, $14.24 per band; and, with Amazon's shipping deal, all orders over $35 ship for free.
These tips, along with other ideas like keeping a journal, making sticky-note reminders, and downloading one of the many available fitness apps will all help aid your success in getting fit within the confines of your own home!
--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet