When you’re staying at home, it’s sooooo tempting to sink into your couch for hours on end while swathed in a fabulous tassels-trimmed, Chiffon Floral Print Cover Up With Tassels. Vegging out may comfort you in the moment (and everyone needs some downtime) but being housebound also means there’s more reasons and fewer excuses to get active. You don’t even need to go hard to reap the benefits of an active lifestyle at home—although no one’s stopping you from doing that marathon in your bedroom if you’re so inclined. So get moving with a little motivation, some imagination…and these helpful ideas from Cupshe, of course!
Start Off Light
If you don’t have a fitness regimen in place, you’ll want to kick things off slowly in order not to hurt yourself—or get unmotivated if you’re unable to do some of the harder moves on that new exercise app you just downloaded. (We’ve been there—ouch!) Even if you’d usually be in “beast mode” at the gym, it’s good to incorporate low-impact movement into your repertoire.
For a fun activity that can be done with your co-quarantiners or alone, try gardening. You don’t need a big yard, although it certainly doesn’t hurt. Creating a flower bed, pulling weeds, or potting plants gets you bending, carrying, and digging…aka: movement that’s good for bodies of all ages and sizes. If you’re a city dweller, look into volunteering at a nearby community garden, which will have rules about how many people can participate at one time to maintain proper social distance, or start a so-called Victory Garden on your windowsill!
Another easy add-on to any routine (or non-routine, as the case may be) is walking. Make it a part of your day by strolling before coffee every morning or after dinner each evening. Or if you have a pet, you’re probably already doing a good deal of walking, so kick it up a notch and tire out your best furry friend with an extra mile or so. If you live in a city, parks are the obvious, but perhaps not the best, choice for walkers since they are often overcrowded, especially on the weekends. Instead, try walking to a different neighborhood for a change of scenery, or zig-zag your way from point A to point B by choosing side streets you wouldn’t normally visit.
The most underrated aspect of fitness, in our humble opinion, is stretching. Whether you’re trying to work out some knots or hoping to improve your flexibility, a dedicated full-body stretch can be done anywhere, at any time. Stretching also acts as a stepping stone to other activities like yoga when you’re ready for more intensity. If you’re already exercising, it’s worthwhile to tack on at least five minutes before and after your workout to warm up and cool down with targeted stretching to help prevent injuries—shin splints are real, people! Right now, there’s a bevy of free community stretching classes to stream, including ones that are dedicated to helping even the most rigid, creaky people increase their flexibility. It’s time to turn that “ouch” into a “ooh!”
Big shout outs to everyone who has a gym membership that’s suspended or has a fitness room in their apartment building that’s been locked down for the last few months. There’s nothing quite as maddening as knowing that you have a place to exercise, but you can’t access it. Instead of losing your cool over the lack of workout space and/or equipment, try things like yoga, barre, and Pilates that require only a little slice of floor for your mat to get the job done. You don’t even need to bother with a fancy sticky mat; just lay down a beach towel instead if that’s what you have available.
Start with yoga, which makes working out accessible to nearly anyone. It’s like stretching, strength-training, and mental relaxation all rolled into one. If you’ve already committed yourself to a yoga practice, good for you! If you’re not quite there yet, no worries. Since there are tons of yoga styles, it’s a good time to try out a bunch (for free) and see what suits your needs and your body best. From gentler yin and hatha yoga practices to power flow and non-traditional, sweat-tastic programs set to hip-hop and metal bangers, there’s a class for every yogi or yogi-in-training out there.
Ready for some good news? You definitely do not need to be a prima ballerina to participate in barre class—it’s doable even if the last dance class you took was in the 2nd grade. This intense workout is more about focusing on small, repetitive movements to burn out your muscles than perfecting your plié. Skip the skepticism and give it a try, especially if you’re an apartment-dweller, since it’s small-space friendly and your downstairs neighbors won’t be disturbed. Sample a few different studios like Pure Barre or Barre Fitness for free, or take advantage of an extended two-week free trial period with other studios like Barre3 if you’re planning to stick with this technique.
For the uninitiated, Pilates means complicated machines better suited to a medieval torture chamber than a modern fitness studio. While a tough session on the Reformer or the Tower (yes, we know, these names are not reassuring) is not possible right now, you can still get a great sweat going with Pilates mat classes streamed via Instagram Live or YouTube. A quick word to Pilates fans who want an ultra-hard version of this workout: participate in a calorie-torching Lagree fitness workout from home. Normally, this Pilates-inspired class is done in-person on a megaformer machine, but popular Lagree fitness teachers like Megan Leyen have modified it for these socially distant times by putting gliders on the floor...though you could also do it with towels or paper plates instead!
Shift Into High Gear
Creating your home gym is harder these days, since basic equipment is sold out (hand weights and resistance bands in particular are rarely in stock) across the country. But you don’t need equipment that’s been branded for workout use to get in a good sweat session. Instead of traditional weights, you can use wine bottles, jugs of dishwashing liquid, or those canned beans you bought with abandon a few months back. Then again, why bother with any accessories at all? You really only need your own bodyweight to build muscle, and you can make your heart pump faster sans expensive machines with HIIT workouts, cardio dance classes, and good old-fashioned running.
A prime example of this: the intervals performed in a HIIT workout require only your bodyweight as resistance, plenty of strenuous effort, and none of your (non-existent) gear. Get guided through a mix of killer moves like burpees, mountain climbers, jump squats, and other well-known sweat-makers with an app like Nike Training Club, which is also conveniently free during these self-quarantined times. You can sort the sessions by time and intensity, which is helpful when you’re strapped for time but still want a serious burn.
Though known for their eponymous bike, Peloton also has a first-class fitness app that’s free for a 30-day trial. Peloton’s upbeat, insanely fit instructors will coach you through classes ranging from the aforementioned HIIT workouts to outdoor running, dance cardio, strength training, yoga, and even meditation! Obviously, their signature spin classes are available on it too, if you do happen to have a stationary bicycle.
Speaking of running, it’s definitely picking up speed (sorry, we couldn’t resist) as the most popular form of exercise in the coronavirus era. Yes, there are many technical things to learn about proper form and the right playlist will always help with motivation. But at its core, running is just putting one foot in front of the other, and the simplicity of that is appealing right now when everyday activities like buying groceries are abnormally, absorbingly complicated. If you’re a beginning runner who’s hesitant to get started, download a free app like Couch Potato To Running 5K (or “C25K”) for basic training guidance, warm-ups, cool downs, and the like.
If the solitude of a long run feels more isolating than you can manage right now, add some much-needed joy to your fitness routine with cardio dance. Jumping around to music is fun, so you can almost forget that you’re doing exercise with a capital E. If you like to pretend you’re in a spacious dance studio rather than an empty garage or a living room, give DanceBody’s 7-day free trial a go. The classes are streamed from the company’s NYC bright and airy atelier, and the choreography ranges from doable-yet-challenging to “Level 10” (you can guess how hard that one is). For free streaming dance aerobics every day, check out 305 Fitness on YouTube. In person, these studios have an unabashedly wink-wink retro vibe complete with 1980’s-inspired neon pink and aqua everywhere. Even though you’re taking class at home now, it’s sure to put a smile on your face. The same sweat-fueled euphoric energy is still there, because this is a dance party that everyone can join!