The Best Home Workouts (And How to Get Yourself Committed)

exercising at home
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

“This is it,” I said in August to my fiance. “This is it. Once the world reopens and it’s safe to go back to the gym, I’m going to get into shape.”

Here we are, four months later, and gyms still aren’t safe. And honestly, who knows when they will be? It’s scary out there, and I’m in no rush to breathe heavily around a bunch of sweaty strangers anyway.

I started getting serious about my home fitness journey a month or so after my fed up conversation with my fiance, and I’m not going to lie to you – it hasn’t been easy. As someone that as always gotten their physical activity from working or group activities, standing in front of a mirror in my bedroom working out is… awkward, to say the least. But I can’t exactly walk into a rock climbing gym right now and spend an hour on the wall, so I had to be realistic about my options.

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I’ve faced two struggles that I have overcome, struggles that many of us have faced. How to find a workout routine from home that works for me, and how to make myself actually do the workout every day.

Figure out your goals

What are your fitness goals? To look like Beyonce or Becky Lynch from WWE isn’t really a realistic goal, but neither is “lose 100lbs by March” or “fit into my jeans from high school”. Let’s start with real, obtainable goals that we can actually hit.

For me, it was to lose some of the weight I put on while being inactive (about 10lbs of fat), gain flexibility back that I’ve lost by sitting so much and tighten up questionable areas – thighs, arms, etc. I’ve got a wedding coming up, and I would like to be in some sort of physical shape to feel good in my wedding dress.

For you, it might be to lose a few pants sizes so you feel more comfortable, to drop some weight to sleep better, or to get back into running, lifting… whatever your goals are, make them realistic, and solid. A generic “get skinny” or “get fit” isn’t going to help.

Know what works for you

Everyone loves apps. Apps, apps, apps. The Nike app, the DownDog app, MyFitnessPal… there are a lot of options. And if a phone app works you for, that’s awesome – you’ve got some amazing choices out there!

But it didn’t work for me. Instead, I felt guilt and anxiety every time I opened my phone and saw that app staring back at me. I quit my phone addiction, but I never picked up a fitness habit, either.

Instead, following along with someone working out helped me a lot. YouTube was great for that! Yoga With Adriene is one of the most popular yoga instructors on YouTube, and she’s got tons of videos for any fitness level.

Yoga with Adriene

She also has a variety of playlists, including Yoga for Mental Health, Yoga for Virtual Learners, and 10-20 Minute Yoga Practices (Yoga for Busy People). You don’t have to be do an hour long workout session twice a day to get results, or feel better.

I’ve also done a lot of beginner HIIT workouts, or high intensity interval training. It sounds scary and complicated, but it’s really not. I like ones like this, because it’s low impact. I’ve got the knees of an old woman, so I can’t put a lot of strain on them for too long without seriously paying the price.

I was also realistic in how often I could work out, and for how long. I’m busy at my job during the day, and my fiance values our quality relaxing time together after work – plus, I cook dinner most nights, and I’m not willing to give that up.

I settled for 20-25 minutes before a nightly shower, so around 9pm. On days that I went on a long walk with the puppy, I cut that back to a quicker/lighter workout, or none at all, depending on how I was feeling.

A woman at home scrolling netflix on a yoga mat
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Another great option is a personalized plan from a trainer, even with the lockdowns. You can do virtual sessions with many gyms and trainers, or schedule one-on-one time in a socially distanced, safe way if your gym is still open.

This can be great for many poeple who feel ‘lost’ at where to start, because it’s been so long (or, in my case, it’s been never). Don’t be afraid to call around to local gyms and see what your options are, or reach out to your extra-fit Facebook friends and find out who they recommend. No one will make fun of you for taking the first step to health and happiness.

How to stay motivated

It’s great that you want to get fit! You’ve got a realistic, attainable goal, you’ve got a program… now you’ve got to stick with it.

This is where my plans always fall apart. No matter my intentions – and they’re always for the best – I have a tendency to… well, I’m not going to mince words: I’m lazy. I would much, much rather play video games, watch TV, or bake cookies than exercise.

Heck, I’d even take scrubbing the bathroom over it.

But if I wanted change, real physical change, I would have to actually put in the work. At first, I set reminders on my phone. 8pm, a reminder would go off – it’s time to exercise. 8:30, another – did you exercise yet? After the first few weeks, it became a habit, and I no longer needed the reminders, but they were still nice.

A woman stretching at home
Photo by Alexy Almond from Pexels

My advice isn’t going to help everyone. For a good friend of mine, she sets up a physical calendar and writes down her schedule – that, plus a tablet to watch TV on while she cycles, makes it a whole lot easier to get her exercise in. My fiance does it through sheer, stubborn will – and my reminders.

An accountability buddy can help a lot of people, so if you’re that sort of personality, get a friend or family member on board to check in on a daily or weekly basis. For me, it gives me anxiety – but sometimes you need that outside ‘pressure’ to help you keep going!

This is going to be trial and error, for sure, and you’re going to struggle at first. But the worst thing you can do isn’t skip a workout, or slack off… it’s totally give up. If you keep trying, that’s all that matters.

Ultimately, you make the decision

I read once that you prioritize what you truly want. If you sit on the couch all day watching Netflix and eating chocolate, well, you’ve prioritized that overdoing things like cooking, cleaning, or exercising.

You have time to exercise if you have time to watch an hour-long show at night, or spend 30+ minutes on Candy Crush, or scroll Facebook mindlessly for an hour. Look, I’m not judging you here – I have done all of these things. Honestly, I’ve done all of these things this month.

But when you change your mentality, and your priorities, you really do change your life. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s true.

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Make the commitment, decide that this is important to you – that your health, and your well-being, is important to you – and stick with it. First day, that’s easy. Second day, maybe you’re riding that high still and you’re fine.

But within the first few weeks, it’s going to get harder before it gets easier. But that’s okay! Good stuff in life, that’s supposed to be hard. It’s also going to be rewarding, and you’ll feel great when you’ve stuck with your commitment, and when you see the actual results? Well, that really will make it all worth it.

Happy exercising, folks.

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