Learn how to find the time, space and motivation to create a winning at-home fitness routine

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

The pandemic has changed the face of fitness. It has us at home – away from our favourite fitness centres and studio – so we have had to get creative. At-home fitness exploded!

But working out at home comes with its own set of challenges. For a lot of us, it means lowered motivation, less inspiration and a lack of accountability. This is a recipe for finding every excuse in the book not to stick to a fitness routine.

It’s important to find what works for you, what inspires you, and to create an at-home fitness routine that fits your lifestyle, personality and goals. 

Embrace the new normal

When COVID-19 first arrived, we didn’t know how long it would last. Now that we know we are in this for the long haul, we need to develop healthy habits and routines like a fitness regime, healthy diet and stress-reducing activities.

I’ve been fortunate to have an area in my home dedicated to fitness for the last 15 years. I have always made the best use of space (and gear) with what I had available no matter where I lived, worked or travelled. I adopted the mentality of “use what you have, where you are, when you can”.  

This mindset has helped me to learn to adapt, modify and “make due” with what I have and still be able to maintain consistency and get closer to achieving my goals.  Let me share with you my best pro tips to make your at-home routine a long-term success too!

Top 3 Pro-Tips for At-Home Workout success

If you find yourself dreading working out at home or not doing it at all then something needs to change.

Pro-Tip #1: REMOVE BARRIERS/xHED

“I’m too busy!” “I don’t have time!”  “I have no space”. “Insert excuse here”.

Time

I get it. We are living in very busy, hectic and uncertain times. Our schedules are full, and our attention span is stretched like never before. Time is a non-renewable source, but you can choose to use your time mindfully.

We can all agree we are busy. Would you also agree we all have bits of time available to us during the day we can optimize and prioritize? If time is the barrier to starting or continuing your at-home fitness routine, try 10-minute workouts perhaps 3 times per week. 

Shortening the time is a great solution to making your fitness routine fit into your busy life. I love this solution for super busy folks because 10 minutes really can make a difference in your overall well-being. If you can squeeze out five days a week, even better!

This is also a great solution if your motivation is running low. Usually, you don’t need to push yourself a great deal to convince yourself to complete a 10-minute workout. Just think: In 10 minutes you will be done and can move on with the remainder of your day. 

Finally, avoid setting yourself up for a downward slide. Too many times, I have heard from friends and clients that they tried to start a new fitness routine and they began with 45-60 minutes, 5-6 times per week. My guidance would be instead of this schedule (which sometimes comes with an “all or nothing” mindset), perhaps start with 20-30 minutes, 3 times per week. Ease back into a fitness routine and observe how your body reacts and adapts before adding more time and frequency. 

Location

If your fitness equipment is downstairs or in another part of your home that you don’t frequent, change the location of it. Seriously! Sometimes the simple fact that the fitness room or equipment is downstairs, upstairs, or in a room we don’t get inspired by, could be a barrier to staying consistent. 

Take action! Move your fitness equipment to another spot where you will use it. Make your space bright, cheery and inviting. Consider some extra lamps/lighting, posters, wall art/quotes or a plant or two to up the overall inspiration factor.

Review your living space and choose locations to keep equipment where you would be visually reminded to stay consistent with your fitness goals. Get creative with the layout of your space and see it from the point of view of opportunities to get in bite-sized amounts of activity throughout your day. A little goes a long way!

Space & Equipment

If square footage is the problem, get creative! You don’t need a lot of space or equipment to meet your needs. You can accomplish a lot with the following three items: a mat, a few dumbbells and a resistance band. Bodyweight workouts are incredibly effective too!

If you want to go further than that winning trio, consider adding a stability ball to the mix. The ball doesn’t have to take up valuable real estate on your floor either. Attach it to the wall high up in the corner with two hooks and a bungee cord (photo left). This way the ball is out of the way and keeps the floor space free for you when you aren’t using it. 

Mindset and thoughts are key

Our thoughts can sometimes limit us. We talk ourselves out of a workout so easily, don’t we? We can justify practically anything and come up with the best reasons to skip a workout. I’ve done it too! We can all relate to this. 

Check-in with yourself and be honest about the story you are telling yourself and decide if your workout that day is best for you or not. Mindset is key to keeping your excuses at bay. 

Pro-tip #2: KEEP IT SIMPLE

Workouts don’t have to be fancy, complex or long. Repeat after me: Keep the workout-short, sweet and simple. Unless you are training for a competition or a specific sport, it doesn’t have to be complicated. The key to your workouts should be that they are safe, balanced and progressive. 

Keeping it simple will be an effective strategy for long-term consistency. Use what you have in your space. Do you have stairs? Complete your step-ups with those and perhaps that’s how you get some cardiovascular work in. What about your ledges and countertops? Use them to stretch, for planks and push-ups! How about your yard, decks and outdoor spaces? Take advantage of what you currently have to simplify your routine. Use a chair for squats or assisted dips, lunges or planks. 

Get creative and you might surprise yourself with what combination you discover. 

Pro-tip #3: INSERT FUN

I believe all fitness should have some element of fun. 

Okay, I get it. Not everyone thinks fitness is fun. But could you find something you enjoy about your workout? A small part of it? Maybe it’s the warm-up? Maybe the stretch portion of your regime? Find something about your routine that you look forward to, that you enjoy, and that makes you feel good in your mind and body. Above all, be sure that the movement you do choose is something you don’t dread or work hard to avoid. 

Set yourself up for a positive mindset towards your fitness. If you are engaging in an activity that you dislike, imagine how your body will respond to that over time. Choose options that align with your goals and that feel good to both your mind and body. 

BONUS Pro-tip

This past year has taken its toll on our mental health and studies show that physical activity helps support our whole health. The mind-body connection is strong. Know that when you move your body, you are supporting your mental health. 

Adding a 2-minute meditation by simply sitting and paying attention to your inhales and exhales can be very powerful to help manage your stress levels. This is a perfect addition to your workout cool-down or sleep routine. 

Turning Uncertainty into Opportunity

By focusing on fitness that fits the world we currently live in, we are turning uncertainty into opportunity. Finding new ways to adapt to our changing world, such as modifying your fitness routine to fit your living space, is just one example. Along your fitness path, be sure to acknowledge progress and victories. Give yourself both credit and grace with this adjustment period. 

Working out at home doesn’t have to be complicated or require a great deal of equipment. Creativity, simplicity and fun are the three keys to the longevity of your at-home fitness routine. Make your fitness fit for you, not the other way around. 

Lastly, remember to be patient with yourself, recognize your efforts and honour your body as you progress. Instead of allowing the pandemic to derail your fitness goals, it’s up to you to bring your fitness routines back to home base. With the above pro tips, you can set yourself up for success to build optimal fitness at home.

You might also enjoy this article on finding balance in mental and physical health

Doris Ward is mind-body fitness coach who helps others build their optimal fitness, body confidence and stress resilience through mindful movement, education and coaching. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine. 

You can read more about her work here: doriswardcoaching.com

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