If you’re self-isolating (like you should be), it’s more important than evern to stay active for your physical and mental well-being. Here are my 8 keys to success with at-home workouts, no matter what your sport or workout routine may have been before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Today is a solo at-home episode of the box jumper podcast. As always, i am your host, Jean St-Amand. I’m working on some remote guests for some upcoming discussions but for right now, it’s just me. I’m social distancing, and hopefully you are too. While I’m quite healthy and have no underlying medical conditions that would put me at risk with COVID-19, I’m still minimizing contact with anyone outside the immediate family I life with for a simple reason – I recognize that my health isn’t the issue. It’s the health of the community. I don’t feel right putting anyone else at risk. Because I’m healthy, I could carry the virus and be completely unaware. And that makes me second guess every interaction, even from the recommended 6 feet or more of distance, every surface I touch, the few places I have had to go out for important supplies. It’s a strange feeling, it’s an uncomfortable feeling. And I know it’s something I’ll have to get used to for a while.
While we’re self isolating – whether we’re working from home, or whether you’re unable to work at this time – when it comes to our health, we face a common challenge – inactivity. It too represents a threat to everyone, on every end of the health spectrum. I think everyone recognizes broadly that physical activity is a positive thing – not just for your physical wellbeing but your mental health, your confidence, your focus – the list goes on. Until the the COVID-19 outbreak, we had considerable choices for physical activity. We didn’t all exercise in the same way, if we did at all, but we had lots of choices available. Now, with self-isolation being the norm to curb the spread of the virus, we’re at home, and those choices are not available to us in the same way. Some of the businesses that were part of the array of choices have adapted, or done their very best to adapt to these shifting circumstances. Let me give you a quick example from my own direct experience. The CrossFit gym at which I train and coach – Osprey Athletics, which is own by two long-time friends of mine that you’ve heard here on the podcast if you go way back to episode 1 – has moved classes online using video conferencing software, adapting their workouts to the new conditions by making the workouts largely equipment free or using things you likely have around the house, very much like the workouts I’ve been releasing, but with workouts aimed at their CrossFit community. They’re also doing one on one virtual coaching sessions. They’ve implemented a team-based challenge that their community can participate in from home, uploading photos to social media and logging their participation in the virtual workouts, and more. They’ve also loaned out equipment to those that wanted to have an implement at home if they didn’t already have a kettlebell or a set of dumbbells to work with.
Whether you’re part of a community like that – one that helps provide guidance and direction, support, programming, coaching, you can and should still remain active. To maintain your physical and mental health, especially under these stressful circumstances, has to be a priority. And the good news is, it’s possible. There are plenty of organizations, and individuals, myself included, releasing content that can help get you and keep you moving. But it remains your responsibility to take up that challenge. no one can do it for you. You can only get out of it what you put in. So this episode will focus on getting the most out of staying active while self-isolating.
In ten seconds we’ll run through what I consider to be the 8 keys to success with at-home training while self isolating, staying active and healthy while keeping your family, friends and community safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
OK. Let’s talk about the 8 things I think everyone needs to consider as vital to success in maintaining their fitness at home in self-isolation.
1 – Consistency
While the rest of my keys to success will not come in any particular order, this one comes first for a reason – it’s the most important. Without consistently looking after your fitness by staying active, you’re missing out on something that will, in return, consistently return value to you. Move it or lose it has never been more true than it is while in self-isolation mode. Our routine is already massively disrupted. If you were a person that only ever got exercise walking to the bus stop to go to work and come home every day and that is no longer your daily reality, I hesitate to think what the impact will be on your health if you don’t make up the difference by prioritizing staying active at home. Activity – whatever the level may be – needs to be part of your daily life. If you can, schedule it at the same time of day, every day. Depending on the nature of the activity you use, you may need to insert some rest days in there, but they can be active rest days – days in which you perform some other form of exercise to keep moving. But it needs to be part of your routine no matter what. It needs to be a habit, even a rule, if it’s going to be effective for you. It’s too easy to fall out of good behaviours like exercise when you don’t have a hard and fast rule in your head driving you to do it every day.
2 – Creativity
Being at home means you have to be creative about how you stay active. You no longer have access to your gym, yoga studio, hockey rink, ball diamond, football field. Your home will be your workout environment. There’s still plenty of fitness to be had. You don’t need a treadmill, or a spin bike, nautilus machine, or other gear to stay active. Does it change things? Yes. But all it means is you have to be creative about how you achieve fitness. You have lots of options around the house. In fact, the stuff you have around the house is generally what you were staying fit to use, right? I get fit so when I play with my kids, I have the energy to keep up with them. I stay fit to be able to mow the lawn without taking breaks, or lift 3 loads of laundry up 3 flights of stairs. Or put away my costco grocery run. Or put my kayak on my car roof to go to the lake. These are daily functional activities that we need our fitness for in the first place. So we have a reason to keep moving and we have plenty of things around the house that we can therefore use to maintain our fitness. Don’t have dumbbells? No problem. Those costco grocery bags can be filled back up again and I can use them as weights for deadlifts, curls, presses, rows, squats – the list goes on. Household implements – your do-it-your-self workout gear – is all around your house. You just need to unleash some creativity to use it.
3 – Variety
If you do the same thing over and over again, you’ll get bored. So in addition to being creative about how you equip yourself for working out, it important that you think about changing your workouts regularly. The more variety, the better. You’ll target more muscle groups and different joints, you’ll achieve a different stimulus to which your body can respond and adapt, you’ll hit different movement patterns, and your mind will be challenged in different ways. Where creativity is the selection of ingredients for your workout, variety will be how you use those ingredients to cook something new.
4 – Intensity
I bring intensity into the conversation for two reasons. First, I know from my own experience that it works. That comes from my trying, at length, a wide array of sports and fitness routines, from long slow cardio work, to short heavy weightlifting sessions with lots of rest. When I found crossfit, i found something that touched on everything that came before it and then some. The addition of intensity was the missing link. If I worked out with intensity, my workouts didn’t have to be long – the reality is they couldn’t be anyway because I wasn’t capable of sustaining intensity for too long, especially when I first started. But that missing ingredient meant I got results without a massive time commitment. Which lends to my second reason – efficiency. When you work out with intensity you get the benefit of the work performed in a short interval. Translation: less time having to work out. So whether you workout with intensity for 20 minutes or 10 minutes or even 5 minutes, you’d going to get the same impact as a much longer workout performed without intensity. So imaging trying to fit a long workout in at home. While you have the kids home. While you and your partner are both working from home. Other things might get in the way. But a short intense workout? Well, that just might be something you can slot into your schedule more easily and get a great benefit in a hurry.
5 – Accountability/Community
It’s hard to stay active on your own. One of the reasons group classes in a social atmosphere are so effective isn’t that the workout itself is any different, it’s the measure of accountability that’s built into that environment, whether naturally or though added measures that are undertaken organizationally. You make social connections with the people you work out with in that environment – it’s only natural. Even if by every other measure, you have little in common, this is one thing you know you have in common. And so it binds you. When you sign up for a class but then cancel, do your social connections in the class ask you the next time you’re there what happened? Does the person that runs the class ask how you’re feeling that day and if there are any modifications to the class that you need to consider because of a sore knee or shoulder that they know about already? None of these things would happen when you work out entirely on your own. And so if you’re use to that group dynamic, you may need to find ways to replicate that in this home environment, much like Osprey Athletics has. If on your own is more your speed, that’s ok. You still have measures for accountability. Do you keep a journal of your workouts? THat’s a measure of personal accountability that you’re keeping – it’s not just your progress, it’s a log of the commitments to your fitness that you honoured along the way. Keep that going too.
6 – Recovery
Your body needs to recover to benefit from your workouts. You can’t just keep hammering away at your body, even while maximizing variety. The same way your body needs to sleep to recharge for the next day, your body needs rest days to adapt to the stress of working out. So you’ll need to plan rest days into your consistent routine. A rest day doesn’t have to be a day in which you do nothing. You can make a decision to do something completely different. But you should be making a conscious choice to dial back intensity and even the nature of the movement itself in order to give your body the best and most productive recovery period possible. Go for a walk or a jog, do some light stretching or core stability work – stay moving, stay active, but don’t treat it like a workout. Save that focus for the rest of the week.
7 – Safety
Whatever you do, do it safely. One of the tricky parts of working out at home is that we don’t have access to our usual gear. And while that can create interesting opportunities for creativity and variety, it can also introduce some manageable risks. The equipment we use for working out is built for that purpose. So we generally can feel comfortable that it will perform well under typical loading for its intended use. At home, when we use do-it-yourself implements in place of actual equipment, we can’t say the same thing. My water jug was not designed for the clean and jerk. My dining room table was not designed for pull-ups. My desk chair was not intended as a substitute for a plyobox. So be reasonable about your expectations of what you can and cannot use for equipment at home. Be creative, introduce variety but be safe about it.
8 – Control
This is a big one. In a time of uncertainly it can be extremely grounding and reassuring to have some control over something in your life. So this is the critical reason to maintain your fitness at home. It’s something you can control and that in itself, especially now, is unquestionably good for you.
That is my 8 keys to success with at-home training while self-isolating. Here’s the AMWRAPUP.
Did my 8 keys to success line up with what you were thinking? Are there others you think should have made the list? Send me some feedback by messaging me on social media to let me know. My handle on facebook, instagram and twitter are all the same – @boxjumperover40. I hope at least a few of these ideas resonate with you and help motivate you along the way.
If you liked this episode, please consider writing a review on iTunes or on Podchaser, and as I mentioned, I’d love to get some feedback or even a suggestion for a future episode by sending me an direct message.
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More episodes of the BoxJumper Podcast to come, as well as more of the daily at-home self-isolation workouts scalable for any level of participant. Stay healthy, WOD happy and WOD often.