Finding time to get to the gym is a constant challenge. Then, when you do have the time, it is often packed with sweaty bodies and you cannot workout on the equipment you prefer. Besides, gym memberships are expensive and often come with ridiculous conditions and restrictions.
You can get a great workout in the comfort of your own home and you don’t even need a plethora of equipment!
With the advent of YouTube and iTunes, there are numerous workout videos and podcasts you can watch, at your own pace, to establish your personal fitness plan. Gone are the days of the multi-DVD sets where you would flatten those abs, or workout along with Jane Fonda every morning.
With more of a focus on strengthening and heart health, at-home workout regimes are very easy to maintain.
If you are comfortable working out on your own or with a friend or two, this is a great way to keep fit. If you are only motivated by a class or gym setting, you may find this methodology challenging.
Yoga is a great way to de-stress, decompress and keep your body nimble and flexible. There are a variety of Yoga techniques and routines/positions that are easy to do in your own living room or den. There are many forms of Yoga, based on different practices and beliefs.
If you are a beginner and not so ‘bendy’ quite yet, there are a few very do-able routines to get you started. Once you master these, you will be able to move on to more challenging routines.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is a perfect all-over rejuvenating pose to stretch your body, maximize your oxygen intake and work on your balance.
Get onto the floor on your hands and knees. position your knees in line with your hips and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
Exhale and pull your knees away from the floor into a straighter position first keeping the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Stretch your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis and press it slightly toward your pubis. Take another deep breath.
Then with a healthy exhale, push the top of your thighs back and stretch your heels onto the floor. Straighten your knees (but do not to lock them). Tighten your thighs and hold.
Tense up your outer arms and press the base of your index fingers into the floor. Draw in your shoulder blades, now widen them and focus them toward your tailbone. Hold your head up between your upper arms – do not let it hang.
Stay in this pose for 1-3 minutes.
Cat or Cow Pose
Cat or Cow Pose (Marjaryasana) allows you to focus on your abs and spine, by gently massaging both with a few simple moves.
Get on your hands and knees in a “table” position. Line up your hands and knees to be directly below your shoulders and hips. Do not hang your head, hold it up and look straight ahead.
Now, exhale and arch your spine toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders and knees in position. Let your head drop, but don’t let it touch your chest. Inhale, returning to your ‘table’ position. Repeat 4 or 5 times, slowly.
Pilates is a newer concept for fitness and is meant to strengthen, rather than focus on cardio/impact methods. It takes a great deal of focus and concentration. The method of the routine and the movements themselves are often more important than the duration or result.
Through carefully controlled movements, which look and feel like a workout, your endurance, body control, balance and flexibility will improve. There is a focused emphasis on alignment, breathing techniques, and balance.
What is great about the Pilates’ system is that it allows for different exercises to be modified for beginners and advanced practitioners or to any other level. Intensity can be increased as you become stronger and more adept.
A few simple Pilates exercises you can try at home are:
Planking involves an extended period, holding your body in a flat position by leaning on your elbows and toes. The idea is to start with a short period of time and then extend it incrementally. The benefits are many: core conditioning (abs), glutes and hamstrings, and supports proper posture and improved balance.
Lie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; clasp your hands. Feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 60 seconds or as long as you can.
Side planking is simply a derivative of the basic planking technique, meant to focus on different muscle groups and improve balance.
Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Hold the position without letting your hips drop for the allotted time for each set, then repeat on the other side.
Pushups are easy and can be done anywhere. Why not step it up a notch and try them on an incline. You can use a piece of furniture, a ledge or desk. This exercise focuses more on the back, biceps and triceps. Again, you can incrementally increase your duration or counts as you become stronger.
Tai Chi (Taijiquan)
For those who are elderly or may have mobility issues, Tai Chi is a wonderful way to stay flexible and nimble without straining already delicate bones and muscles. Originally designed in ancient China to be a form of self-defence and promote longevity, the slow, careful movements require focus, concentration and balance.
Many Tai Chi classes are available in cities and towns – often conducted in lovely outdoor settings to promote the reduction of stress and mental well-being. While classes are often conducted as a group, this is a perfect solo activity as you can set up a video or music to guide you.
Leg Lifts and Strengthening Moves
If your thighs, hips and butt are a going concern, then squats are a great way to focus your effort on these areas. They are often called ‘the king of all exercises‘ as they have a very positive impact on all part of your body. You can set up a simple count to start with, then add more as you get stronger. In time, you can add weights to your regime.
It’s important that you start with your hips back, with y9our legs straight. Keep your back straight, in a rested position, with your chest and shoulders straight up. Look straight ahead at a spot on the wall. As you squat, keep your knees in line with your feet. Repeat as much as you can.
Place your arms out to your sides at a 45-degree angle. Brace your core–imagine you’re about to be punched in the guts-squeeze your glutes tightly. Then raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
Similar to the Cow or Cat poses in Yoga, the Donkey Kick works on the core glutes. Get on all fours on your mat (hands in line with shoulders, knees in line with hips). Stretch your right foot back and lift knee to hip level. Lower your knee without touching the floor; lift again. Switch legs – do at least 5 per legs. Increase in time.
So, now go and build your workout regime to suit your unique, personal goals. By incorporating multiple exercise types and methods, you can find the best routines to get fit and healthy. You may want to procure a comfortable workout mat and some small weights to enhance your workout routines and increase the intensity over time. If you are committed and consistent, you will see the results you desire in no time at all! Let’s do this!