I consider myself to be an athlete; however, I do not indulge in any athletic feats that are super interesting. I am not “cut” or “swole.” My specialty is consistency. I have been working out regularly for more than 20 years, except for the odd knee surgery or birthing the occasional child.
If you get frustrated because you’re not meeting specific strength or weight loss targets during the whole pandemic, I encourage you to redefine those goals. I work out because when picking up my children, I don’t want to hurt myself, but also because physical exercise is how I overcome anxiety and depression. Over the past two decades, I’ve tried everything — from climbing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu to Jazzercise — at least once. That makes me the world’s most mediocre athlete, eligible to help you get moving.
I can help you if you’re starting from square one. I can also help if you’re a gym rat. For some more ideas, I enlisted the help of Cassey Ho, the animating spirit behind the enormously successful Blogilates fitness platform, along with Ben Musholt, parkour coach, physical therapist, and the author of The Mad Skills Encyclopedia.
Set Up Your Space
Most sports companies won’t tell you this, but you don’t need anything, not even a pair of stylish trousers or sneakers, to start working out. Just do a good number of push-ups in your pajamas each time you pee, and congrats! You’re on your way.
Even you can build a routine with a basic kit. You are starting with a yoga mat, which is suggested by fitness expert Cassey Ho. She says, “Clearly, a lot of us don’t have room for our own home gym,” but a mat can help you define a workout space within the chaos of the floor of your living room.
A yoga mat cushions your joints and keeps your hands and feet protected. Parkour expert Ben Musholt also indicates that your downstairs neighbors can dampen the noise of your footfalls for apartment dwellers. I have a simple Gaiam mat, but I also suggest the thick, recycled Suga mat, although it is pricier.
Many free online fitness guides will also include weight-using exercises, such as kettlebells or small dumbbells.
Choose Your Poison
Whether hiking, walking your dog, or roller-skating in melancholy, the best way to start working out consistently is to choose what you’d like to do and then do that.
Fortunately, right now, there is a veritable smorgasbord of online streaming fitness services. First, I suggest the effective, strength-building 7-minute workout from The New York Times.
Also, on YouTube and Instagram, there are hundreds of free workouts, but the few YouTube channels that I like are Blogilates, Exercise Blender, Sydney Cummings, and Adriene’s Yoga. Adriene Mishler, a yoga teacher, has a theatre background, an exceptionally soothing voice, and an excellent taste for dogs.
If you’ve been curious and never had a chance to try out a particular trendy workout, now is the time. For 90 days, the Peloton app is free. And Orangetheory, the trained boutique fitness studio, also offering free YouTube videos.
Got a fitness tracker? The most efficient technique for you to both access and track your workouts might be an app. Nike Training Club and Aaptiv are both immensely popular. But if you have a Fitbit like the Versa, I love the ease of being able to pick an exercise on the Fitbit Coach app and do a quick workout in my living room while following along with a tiny thing on my wrist.
A gaming console is also a fitness opportunity. E.g., on the Nintendo Switch, our team likes Ring Fit Adventure, Just Dance and Mario Tennis Aces. It may be hard to find the Switch and some of these games now, though.
If you started attending exercise classes before the global epidemic closed all the studios, I recommend contacting your instructor directly. Many of them probably need work, and a few of my now-former trainers are conducting private Zoom sessions for a small fee.
Fire It Up
You can try other easy tricks to jump-start your exercise habit if working with Jane Fonda on a routine basis is not enough of a motivation for you to get off the couch.
How to Start Getting Started:
- In your calendar app, schedule a recurring appointment.
- Make sure you have clean, comfortable workout clothes.
- Begin small. Don’t get yourself hurt.
- Try a lot of different things!
Putting an appointment in your calendar means that you will mentally set aside the time to work out and receive a reminder about it. Having a date with a mate is another opportunity. At the beginning of your day, nothing can make Zoom more exciting than seeing your best buddy.
Your workout attire, mainly if you stay inside your house, can also be minimal. But if it is clean, organized, and suits well, it will help you get motivated. The less time and energy I put into looking for a clean sports bra or matching pair of socks in my laundry basket, the fewer reasons I have for dumping my plans, so the more time I have for actually working out.
Ultimately: Now is the most challenging time to go to a doctor. While most coaches suggest visiting a doctor to rule out any heart or respiratory issues before beginning a new routine, that’s not possible at the moment. As you are starting a new exercise routine, you do not want to endanger yourself.
It’s also normal to be sore afterward, but a motion should not hurt while you’re performing it. If you’re a new runner, for instance, and feel any pain in your shins, stop running. Go home and try again tomorrow. Modify instructions according to your fitness level, whether that means moving a push-up to a chair instead of the floor or doing half-burpees instead of complete ones. Ho also recommends accumulating before and after workouts in the warm-up and cool-down times to stretch.