At-home fitness has taken the world by storm over the past 12 months as people everywhere abandoned their gyms for the safety of their homes during a pandemic. This unprecedented and nearly universal shift from the gym environment has rocked the health and fitness world, especially as so much of people’s day-to-day lives were altered in ways both big and small. Those loyal gym-goers were forced to rely on home workouts. Gyms began creating content that could be consumed by those sequestered in their homes. And above all, online fitness took over the fitness world.
Anyone looking for ways to increase their fitness levels has been reliant on online classes and home gym equipment for a significant portion of the past year. This dramatic change in both options and venue has made the adjustment difficult for people of all backgrounds and athletic levels. But fortunately, as we’ve moved into the new year, many people have found that setting a goal that you can accomplish within your own home is a boon for those intimidated by the environment of the gym. So, if you’re thinking about stepping up your fitness game in 2021, this is a complete guide to achieving maximum results from your home workout.
Set a Home Fitness Goal
Before you do anything else, ask yourself what your home fitness goal really is. The best way to do this is to set a SMART Goal:
- S- Specific. You’ll know when you meet your goal.
- M- Measurable. You have a way of measuring your success.
- A- Achievable. Your goal is attainable.
- R- Realistic. Your goal is realistic, long-term, as a lifestyle.
- T- Timely. You have a specific timeline for when you will achieve this goal.
Going into a home fitness goal saying that you want to “lose weight”, “be more active”, or “feel better” is great! It means you are actually invested in fitness. But to keep yourself accountable and meet an actual goal, you need to set one, and it should align with the guidelines above. For example, instead of “losing weight”, you might say something along the lines of “I’ve gained some weight over the past few years. I want to fit into the jeans I bought 5 years ago when I was healthier. To do that I need to lose about 15 pounds. I would like to be able to wear those jeans to a family event in 6 months.” See how it works?
- S- Specific. You want to be able to fit into an older pair of jeans.
- M- Measurable. You will know you are successful when you can comfortably wear those jeans.
- A- Achievable. You set a specific amount of weight that will be healthy for you to lose.
- R- Realistic. You maintained that weight in the past and you know it’s a healthy spot for you.
- T- Timely. You want to be able to wear those jeans to an event 6 months from your start date.
Those specifics will keep you motivated on days when you may not feel like working out or when you need a reason to continue on your home fitness journey.
Keep Yourself Accountable
Home fitness can be difficult to commit to simply because you’re working out in your own environment.
That means your bed and your couch are in close proximity, and you may not get the same satisfaction that you do from actually going to a site where you can work out. So it’s a good idea to find a way to keep yourself accountable outside of your personal goal.
This could mean a significant other doing the workout with you. You might log your progress in a journal every day so you can see how you’re moving towards your goal and you have that added satisfaction of writing down what you’ve achieved. Or you might invest in a smartwatch that will chart your movement and remind you to get up and go. However you choose to keep yourself going, you’ll want to make sure that on days when it’s difficult to get out of bed that you have a reason to do so.
Create a Schedule
Forming new home fitness habits is no easy feat. It takes time to establish patterns that will ultimately stick. To do that, you will need to create a schedule where you plan out how frequently you want to work out. These are a few points to consider when you think about how often you want to work out:
- Your schedule should be flexible enough to allow for life to sometimes get in the way. Work, kids, or friends can encroach on your workouts. Allow a day or two of the week where you can make up things you miss if something comes up so you can stay on track.
- You should schedule your workouts around common interruptions. If you say that you’ll work out every day as soon as you get off work but your kids finish school at the same time and always want you to start dinner first, that’s not a realistic time to get a workout in. Keep in mind what your true schedule is, outside of work.
- Your schedule should allow for recovery days and be something you can stick to. Working out every single day isn’t necessarily realistic or even healthy. It’s great that you’re excited and ambitious, but you don’t want to get burned out too quickly. Build breaks into your workout schedule too!
Invest in Gym Equipment
No, this doesn’t necessarily mean treadmills, barbells, or squat racks! But in order to see results, you will need to make sure you have the right gear to execute your home workouts. This can include weights, yoga mats, stress bands, or steps. The good news is that online instructors will typically tell you what type of weights or equipment you’ll need for each workout, so after you’ve done a few, you’ll have a good idea of the types of things you need on hand to complete one of their workouts.
If you’re more into the home fitness scene than the average person you can, of course, invest in some of the bigger pieces of equipment. Peloton is a huge home fitness brand and their home workouts are well known for being incredibly effective. But if you aren’t willing or able to spend tons of money on home equipment, there are plenty of household items that will work for you.
Bottles of water, baskets of toys, and cans of soup can easily be used for gym equipment. You may have to invest in one or two pieces of equipment, but you certainly don’t need to break the bank!
Identify your Home Gym
Whether your home gym is the open space in front of your TV or a basement you never use, you’ll want to identify an open space that gives you room to move around without knocking things over. Ideally, you’ll want a space where you can jump around without bothering anyone beneath you or play music without disturbing anyone. Either way, before you commit to your first day of reaching your goal, figure out where in your home you’ll be doing your online fitness videos so you can set it up and claim it as your space.
Explore Online Workouts
Online fitness is accessible anywhere that you have wi-fi, which makes it a perfect option for busy people who need a quick way to get in a workout. But beyond that, after the past year, there are hundreds of more options for every workout preference available online! Take some time to explore what types of workouts excite you. Some popular online fitness options include Chloe Ting, Madfit, and Yoga With Adriene. Beyond YouTube, a lot of gyms are offering online memberships with access to home workouts while their capacities are limited! A lack of content is no excuse for not getting started.
Keep in mind that you can explore lots of different workout types, lengths, and structures to see what works for you. Don’t get discouraged if you find that you hate HIIT workouts no matter who’s leading them or that yoga gives you anxiety, not a calm feeling. Everyone likes different things, and the beauty of home fitness is that it’s very easy to switch your focus and turn your attention to a different online workout course! There’s no limit to the number of approaches you can try to find what works for you.
To give you some ideas, we’ve outlined a few categories of online workouts that could work for you depending on your circumstances:
- Apartment-Friendly – Apartment-living is full of annoying neighbors and if you’re concerned that you’ll be one of them, there are plenty of online workouts that are designed so that you won’t disturb your downstairs neighbor with constant bangs and thumps as you jump around or use your weights. You can search for apartment-friendly workouts on YouTube!
- Low Impact – If you’re nursing an injury of any kind or if this is your first foray into the fitness world, low impact workouts are a perfect way to ease into things. They’re designed to be lower intensity and easier to execute if you have any kind of limitations, whether it’s a tendency towards pain on an area of your body or general unfamiliarity with the world of fitness.
- Quick Workouts – If you’re a busy professional or if your philosophy around exercise is that it should be done quickly, HIIT workouts are a great option. High-Intensity Interval Training means that you’ll be doing 20-30 minute workouts designed to jump-start your metabolism and really pack a punch. If all you have time for is a quick 20-minute burn before work, HIIT workouts or anything high intensity will do the trick.
- Consistency – A lot of online fitness YouTubers like Chloe Ting will do “challenges” where you have a schedule and a goal of completing all the workouts they release during a certain period of time. That consistency and integrated mindset can easily give you an extra boost if you’re struggling to find the motivation to keep going or if you want a community to go with your workout.
- Group Workouts – If you’re used to the group workout environment, there are quite a few instructors who teach live, remote classes as a way to keep their members motivated without putting anyone’s health at risk by hosting an in-person class. Certainly, it’s not the same, but if you crave the group fitness side of things, you can certainly look into remote classes from local gyms or even Peloton, which is designed to allow you to work out with people remotely as you meet at the same time on the bike for a live-streamed class. There are several options open to you if you can’t get behind a workout that you do completely on your own.
Regardless of your fitness goals, home fitness and online workouts are an excellent way for you to become healthier in a new year that marks the anniversary of a very complicated and difficult 12 months. At-home workouts are a great side-effect of our new normal as they are easily accessible and much more customizable than a particular gym approach, not to mention they can be done for free in your own home. People worldwide are investing in gym equipment and working out from the comfort of their living rooms while we wait for the pandemic to ebb. But even once COVID-19 has died down, every goal you set and every home fitness habit you’ve formed can easily be transferred to a gym setting if that’s what you choose to do.
You don’t have to put your fitness goals on hold because gyms are restricted. You can reach your fitness goals at any time with at-home fitness resources and a little determination. Don’t let yourself lose sight of your own abilities because the way you go about your goals has changed. Keep your eye on the prize and watch as your goals become a reality.