The Benefits of Home Workouts

Illustration by Katie H.

I’ve been a fan of home workouts since I was a teenager, awkwardly following kickboxing and pilates workouts in my bedroom. For most of my adult life, I’ve been jumping, planking, and crunching in apartments around the country. Costly gym memberships, living nowhere near a gym and the convenience of turning on a video as opposed to taking myself to another building to exercise were all valid reasons to choosing home workouts. And, yes, they were effective.

Even though some people benefit from the structure that gyms offer, there are numerous benefits of home workouts. For myself, I knew I was more likely to stick to a workout plan if I could do it anywhere during the times when I couldn’t afford a gym membership, or like now, when mandatory lockdowns have closed gyms all over the country.

Successful home workouts are possible and you can get the results you’ve been working towards in the gym. Maybe those results have changed from “lose 10 pounds” to “not eat myself out of every pair of jeans I own” for the time being, but that’s okay. There is no shame right now in eating whatever you want.

Still, as delicious as gorging on sugar and bread is (until you get a headache, toothache and stomachache simultaneously, which I call the Glucose Trifecta), there are benefits to turning on a yoga video or doing some crutches in between shotgunning beers in your bathroom and eating powdered sugar sandwiches.

It’s free

A long time ago when I didn’t know how to workout and I didn’t have the confidence to trust myself to figure it out, I’ve paid too much money for home workout programs. Had I simply done a little research, there are tons of free online workouts. For the last several years, I’ve been using Fitness Blender, a wife and husband fitness instructor team who believe that staying healthy should be a free option to everyone. Their egalitarian platform offers hundreds of free workout videos, ranging from strength training and HIIT to pilates and kickboxing.

During the quarantine, some gyms are streaming free online workouts. Studio 3, a combo spin-HIIT-yoga class studio, that usually costs $250 a month, is providing free IG strength training and yoga videos three times a day. If you’re looking for a structured yoga workout, try 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene. It, too, is free and sometimes, there’s a dog in the video. The only downside with at home yoga workouts is the hands-on correction from a yoga instructor, but placing a mirror next to your mat to check your form can do the same. And you know what a mirror can’t do? Point at your stomach hanging out of your yoga pants when you’re dying in a plank and say cheerfully, “I see some belly hanging! Belly button to spine!”

See? Even more advantages to at home workouts.

No commute time to the gym

The worst part of going to the gym is going to the gym. Here’s short list of what gave me anxiety preparing for the gym:

  • finding clean workout clothes
  • doing mental math of what time to leave to get to your class on time
  • calculating how much time you can spend at the gym during your lunch break
  • the possibility of running late
  • being late and groping your way to your bike in a dark spin class

Working out at home? You decide to workout, you put on workout clothes – or not? – and get it done. Then you’re back to your life – whatever that entails right now. Watching Rick and Morty, and dipping joints in a brown butter and sugar mixture? Don’t know if that’ll work, but whatever keeps the serotonin flowing.

Wear whatever you want

No one can see or judge you – wear whatever you want. Even if its nothing. Some people embrace this fashion mantra wherever they go. Have you seen how Nicolas Cage dresses? So what if you don’t have appropriate workout clothes? Who cares? Also, there’s no fear of others judging your poor form doing at home workouts, except maybe a roommate and I’m sure you’ve seen one another in more compromising situations. Even at the gym, there’s no need to feel like an idiot when you can’t correctly do a burpee or complete 100 crunches without stopping and screaming because your ab muscles have exploded. This is your time to learn how to do that stuff. So flop around on the floor like a fish in your pajamas. It’s okay. You’re trying.

Stop whenever you want

Working out at home gives you the power to end that nonsense whenever you want. You ever try to slip out of any kind group exercise class? I’ve watched people do it and everyone stares. Or worse, the impossibly fit instructor makes a comment. There’s been many times I’ve wanted to leave a demanding hot yoga strength training class or a really intense spin class because I’m so delirious I’m seeing mirages of floating ice cream cones. Even then, my social anxiety won’t let me leave. I just try to catch those ice cream cones, which may or may not look strange.

Post workout snack is right there!

It’s right there! Hooray!

Your mental health thanks you

Look, nothing makes sense right now. And it might not for a long time. The best we can do is take care of ourselves with the means that we have. Exercise creates endorphins which can significantly decrease anxiety and depression. If you don’t have some lingering sadness or frustration watching mass unemployment and death, you have the serenity of a Buddhist monk. And if you’re thinking, “Crunches? Pilates? A single push up?! That’s a hard no!” – great! You know what you need and maybe it’s snuggle time on a couch. We’re all doing our best to find ways to cope, which right now, could be doing one crunch before heading back to your Netflix marathon.

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