We all know that exercise is a great way to keep your spirits up when you’re hunkered down at home. But what do you do when the gym is no longer open, and it’s impossible to practice social distancing at your local park?
The comfort option
Not so long ago, home fitness was all about the workout video: Think Jane Fonda, or Cindy Crawford’s “Shape Your Body” series from the 90s. It’s possibly no surprise that the classics are having something of a revival in these uncertain times; doing a few Fonda-style glute sequences has the same kind of cozy appeal as working your way through all ten seasons of “Friends”. My personal favorites are the early fitness videos from UK TV personality Davina McCall; I did one leg series so many times that even now I can’t hear the opening bars of Sam Sparro’s “Black and Gold” without launching into a gazillion sumo squats.
The high tech option
Everyone laughed at that cheesy Peloton ad last year (the commercial provoked such a backlash that shares in the company fell by nearly $1.5 billion), but if you were gifted one of those fancy-schmancy exercise bikes, you’d be feeling pretty smug by now. Ditto the Mirror, a smart screen that streams a variety of home workouts, but doubles as a perfectly ordinary mirror when not in use. Peloton has suspended deliveries of its treadmills (although you can still order the bikes) for safety reasons, but you can still join in without equipment. The brand’s app gives you access to a library of live and on-demand workouts, including yoga and strength training, for $12.99 a month.
The community option
If you regularly work out at a gym or fitness studio, chances are you’ve already been invited to join a virtual class via Zoom (and if not, you can find them by searching “virtual” on the Mindbody app). It’s a great way to reconnect with your community, as well as supporting your local studio — but make sure to mute so that you don’t interrupt the class with random cutaways of your downward dog.
Anna Schuchman and Charlotte Wikler are the trainers behind ace Lifestyle, a health and fitness company based in northwest London. Like many studios and gym instructors, they have been live-streaming classes (including a free fitness class for children) and holding virtual personal training sessions via video over the past few weeks. Given that we are all stuck on a virtual desert island right now, I asked Wikler for the pair’s favorite desert island move. “The burpee is a great all-body exercise, engaging your upper body, core, and lower body and raising the heart rate too!” she wrote back. “You can also make them harder as you get fitter by bringing your body all the way down to the floor.”
And Zoom etiquette aside, what should we be watching out for when working out at home? “The problem with working out from home is that unless you are doing an audio-video, the trainer may not be able to see you and your exercise form and technique may not be correct, which can cause injuries,” says Wikler. “A great tip is to work out in front of a mirror where you can see your reflection and correct your form per the teaching points of the trainer.”
The smartphone option
When it comes to fitness apps, Wikler recommends Sweat, which has lots of options for both strength and cardio. If yoga is more your thing, Down Dog is deservedly popular; easy to use, the app generates a new sequence every time. Barre and HIIT workouts were recently added to the Down Dog family (which has made its apps available for free until May 1st), and I can report that the barre abs sequences are brutally effective. But the one I keep going back to is Nike Training Club. While many of its workouts are best saved for the gym, there are plenty of no-equipment options including yoga, and a boxing-inspired routine that works up a decent amount of sweat in under 30 minutes.
The prison-inspired option
Looking for a tough workout using nothing more than your body weight? Former inmate Coss Marte knows all about trying to get fit in a small space. He developed his own no-equipment training routine while incarcerated, and lost 70lbs in six months simply by working out in his prison cell. Now he’s established the fitness studio CONBODY, where formerly incarcerated instructors lead prison-inspired fitness classes. You can join in from home when you live stream a class via Mindbody, or access pre-recorded classes for $9 a month.