The Benefits of Home Workouts

I’ve been working out at home since I was a teenager, kicking and punching to Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo workout in my parents basement because it was the 90s. For the last twenty years, I’ve been jumping and planking and crunching in living rooms and basements around the country during the times when I couldn’t afford a gym membership – or when a respiratory illness closed all the gyms.

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.” But whatever, there’s currently a global pandemic, so if you want to keep eating pie and drinking wine on your couch all day, go git it. Yesterday, my diet consisted of the three major food groups: gummy bears, cookie dough and frozen pizza. 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

Because I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have the confidence to trust myself to figure it out, I’ve paid for home workout programs in the past. Had I done some research, there’s tons of free workouts online. 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 feeling philanthropic and are streaming free online workouts. Studio 3, a combo spin-HIIT-yoga class studio, that costs $250 a month provides free IG strength training and yoga videos three times a day. And that hot yoga studio that costs $25 a class, but a bottle of water, towel and mat cost extra (looking at you Corepower)? I mean, they’re definitely not offering anything pro bono right now, but 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene is free, always has been and, sometimes, there’s a dog in the video. The only downside is Adriene can’t walk up next to you and correct your form, but placing a mirror next to your mat 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!”

That was not necessary, Kim. Not at all.

no commute time to the gym

The worst part of going to the gym is going to 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, and the time wasted driving or walking there. And that’s just in warm weather. Don’t get me started about dressing for the gym in the middle of a Chicago winter. Working out at home? You decide to workout, you put on workout clothes – or not – and get it done. Bam. With endorphins pumping in your bloodstream, you’re back on the couch, watching Rick and Morty, and dipping joints in a brown butter and sugar mixture because, really, everything is acceptable now.

stop whenever you want

Working out at home gives you the power to end that nonsense whenever you want. Let’s say, before the bat virus, you decide to hop into a spin class on a day when you’re not feeling the best. Maybe you’re hungover and, maybe, you have uncontrollable diarrhea. Has this happened to me? No, but it is a fear of mine. Not only are you literally attached to the bike, but trying to squeeze past other people’s pumping furiously legs trying to climb imaginary hills does not facilitate a quick exit.

Nonetheless, 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 hot yoga with weights 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 because I know everyone will think one of two things: “I can’t believe she’s giving up, what a baby” or “damn, I wish I had an excuse like liquid fire threatening to come out of both ends.”

Or maybe that’s just me.

wear whatever you want/ you can look like an asshole

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? Not your roommates who haven’t exercised since high school gym class. Likewise, 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 – if you want to. So flop around on the floor like a fish in ill-fitting leggings. It’s okay. You’re trying.

your 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 must be a Buddhist monk or a sociopath. Even if you’re thinking, “Crunches? Pilates? A single push up?! That’s a hard no.” that’s fine. We’re all doing our best to find ways to cope, which right now, could be replacing your bong water with grape Kool-aid.

It’s delicious.

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