I’ve tried, and loved, gyms before. I liked the ritual of going somewhere, packing up, and being surrounded by other people who are all working together. It’s the easiest way to feel motivated (money! other people to count on you!)Group fitness classes, LOVE. But? None of that was even kind of sustainable with our budget or schedule.
I tried to get friends together frequently enough to do workouts, but without the skills, training, or equipment to really keep going.. it always petered out.
All that to say: I love gyms, and maybe down the line that kind of training will be for me. But for now? For my budget/kids/family life/sanity…. nope. Also, it’s hard to imagine going back now that I have a nice established home routine, it feels so good and doable. I also really (really) love having it be a ritual that my kids see me engaging in every week. It’s normal to them to see me jumping around doing squat jumps and burpees, they’re used to me grunting my weights around and leaping like crazy when I hit a PR. That is something I never want to lose. The visual of their Mama being strong, loud, and growing. Celebrating my strong legs, thick arms, and newfound ability to hold a chaturanga.
Where To Get Started: Start by deciding your goals. Are you hoping to lose weight? Or fat? Are you aiming to build muscle? Or get stronger overall? Do you want to build mass? Or just feel more fit? That will help you determine how often/aggressively and what body parts to be working out. My main goals are overall fitness and strength and fat loss. Because of that, I do a good mix of cardio/hiit (not just treadmill or running unless I’m craving a run! And with Summer coming, I’m sure that will come back into my routine), and heavy strength training. I use Fitnessblender workouts and LOVE so much about them. The main thing I love is that they are body positive. You won’t hear Kelli or Daniel saying “Think of bikini shopping! How do you want to look on the beach!” they NEVER promote fasting, or depravation, they are openly encouraging of eating real foods from all food groups and indulging when you want. They don’t promote calorie/macro counting at all and both are open about their own high calorie intake because of the importance of fueling your body in order to grow muscles and effectively lose fat. Also, hearing Kelli’s story through a crippling eating disorder and out and into amazing strength? So awesome, relatable, and inspiring. ANYWAY: Why I love their workouts is the sheer variety. There are hundred of free videos to choose from and you can easily search them through their website (click Workouts -> full length workouts) and select exactly what you are looking for. My favorites are the “for people who get bored easily” (they have cardio/abs, lower body, upper body varieties) because they are all strength training that feels like cardio for your body (So.Sweaty.). If you are just starting out I think the best place to start is with the Five Day Challenge for Busy People, it will get your body going for a few days, show you their style and variety, is free, and the workouts in that program are only 30minutes or less. I love all the five day ones (the strong and lean one is HARD AND AWESOME). You can also purchase programs, they will create a calendar for you when you log in and preload the workouts so that when you log-in you just click and it’s already chosen for you. I highly recommend using a program when you are getting stared, it will help you meet your goals, and not overtrain one area/neglect another. I loved the FitnessBlenderBooty program and had really great results, and the Ab program was great as well. I have done FBFIT too and liked it, but the workouts were a bit longer and at that point I wasn’t ready for it, but I’ll probably repeat it now that I have better endurance. The programs range from $9-15 and once you have it, it’s yours to repeat as often as you like. It’s a crazy steal.
Motivation: This is the number one question that popped up when I started putting feelers out on this post. I get it! Feeling motivated to workout, at home, with your cozy bed right there… it’s herculean at first! It’s rolling a square stone up a hill. It’s really hard. But two things sick out to me; First, momentum is motivation. It’s like every other habit, the more you do it… the more you’ll do it. So pulling the trigger on actually doing it those first few weeks will feel like pulling teeth, but it should* get easier and easier the more you do it. Those first weeks it is best to set aside two times of day that work (early morning and late evening? lunch break and before dinner? whatever are two 30 min times you can carve out) and decide that you will use one of those times, set phone alarms, tell a friend you’ll be doing it, find an accountability partner (or Facebook group! I made one that is helping me BIG TIME to stick to actually getting in my daily workouts, let me know if you want to join <3), send a sweaty selfie to your friend or on your IG, do whatever it takes for you those days to really get it. Secondly, motivation needs to be tangible and internal. Those seem counter intuitive but what I mean is that you need to have achievable goals, results are so inspiring and motivating, almost universally! But I feel that for those goals to really sustain you long term, not wreck your self esteem, or contribute to already deeply entrenched patterns created by media and culture… those goals need to be tangible and not size/number related (solely! Everyone can have many goals, but if your only goal is a size… it’s likely going to backfire). So, creating goals that are measurable but won’t make you cry in an Old Navy Dressing room (just me?). Goals like climbing a harder route on a rock wall, keeping up with your kids while you play soccer, biking the trailer all around town, hiking a hike that has seemed outside of your skills, sleeping better at night, feeling guiltless about your food choices on a regular basis (or! all the time!), buying whatever fits you best without feeling sad about the size. Here are my weird, tried and true tips for motivation and sustaining your home program… and forewarning, some of these are weird.
- Videos of yourself! This happened on accident, I started taking workout videos for my IG and the side effect? I went HARD when I popped on the video camera! I had great form (well, sometimes, I’m still learning!) and was able to feel that gym motivation to lift harder/heavier because I knew I would be sharing this, and I wanted to share my best and hardest.
- Mirrors. Being able to see yourself is kinda paramount with home practice because you can’t get form correction from a trainer. But with your mirror you can see how straight your back/legs are, and what is working and what isn’t.
- Music, find you groove and station. For me, and this is stupid embarrassing because every song on there is AWFUL and full of terrible messages… I listened to Sexy and You Know it Radio (when I’m working out sans kid’s) and Taylor Swift Radio (with kids).
- Pull up your workout and push play. As it starts going I always realize… “I don’t want to watch this, I want to get this DONE.”
- Let every one know… I know, it’s my generation or my narcissism or something, but don’t knock social media accountability till you try it. Post in a group that you are working out now, and ask someone to check back in an hour. Text your friend, or spouse, write it on your to-do list, IG a picture of what you are about to do and then delete it and add a sweaty after instead. Whatever you do, ditch the social media shame and guilt and do whatever works for you to get you to your goal of feeling better.
- Photos…. seriously. After you ditch the scale and begin to rely on emotions and feelings and strength to gauge fitness it can be easy to feel like you aren’t seeing any changes externally. Your see yourself every day and will likely not notice the changes, because healthy changes are super gradual. Take progress photos! You *will* eventually see some changes, even if it’s mainly in how you hold yourself, smile, and enjoy your reflection, and those will motivate you to keep achieving your specific goals.
**Should: I say should because many people (me!) experience a major endorphin high and feel way better after working out. I need to feel that several times a week to feel good, it’s an antidepressant for me. It’s the runners high, that is present after any good hard workout. I don’t think that happens the first few times depending on your fitness level, but give it at least a bit of time. However! and the reason for the asterisk. I have recently had it pointed out that feeling better after a workout/endorphin high is not an experience everyone has, so the motivation of “you’ll feel better after” and “you never regret a workout” is not true for everyone and I am privaledged that it does work and happens for me. If this doesn’t happen for you then your goals can reflect this and you can look into other ways to meet those needs that maybe *do* bring you that joy. It could be working out outside, or trying an alternative workout (try a zumba or dance video, rock climbing, yoga, hiking, long walks with friends, jogging with a pod cast, etc) and my advice up there won’t hold true that it gets “easier and easier” because it very well may not for you, and if so, that’s okay! You can hate working out, and choose an active lifestyle instead, or you can hate working out and do it anyway, depending on your goals, but I would think them through thoroughly and be sure that they are goals you want for your heart and head and not just for acceptance or a size.
When?!: I’m going to repeat myself a bit here. My answer is similar to what I said in my Home Yoga Practice: Getting Started, post. Many of the programs are set up to exercise three or five days a week, if you are choosing a program I suggest following it fully and not adding more exercise right away. If you are creating your own, by choosing workouts, I would aim for 2-3 active workout days, 2-3 active rest and at least one full rest day. As far as time of day… that’s on you! Does your day work well with a firm schedule? General consensus is that working out in the AM is easier, less time to put it off. For me I have to just fit it in where I can/when I feel motivated and if not? Then I do it at night. My day to day is pretty all over the map, and will only grow in that chaos with Summertime and no school schedule, so I will continue aiming for morning but taking time wherever I can squeeze it in. If you procrastinate and pull up your program and realize “There is NO way I can do 52minutes of anything right now!” then just take note of the muscle group/style of exercise it is and hunt down a short one on their page (their 10minute workouts are some of my FAVORITES!). A little of something, is far far better for your body than nothing.
Gear: This is where home workout can get pricey. All of the fitness blender videos are still hard and effective without any weights. But to really work on muscle growth and up your stamina, some weights will be really helpful (but not right off the bat! You could see how you like it and then slowly save up!). I used exclusively one pair of 8 pound weights of for the first year (!) because that was all I had. And? I loved it. Had awesome results and still got all the endorphin highs! In December Charlie bought me a weight set from Costco (10-30# for $200!) and it’s been amazing and invaluable. It means we can both workout together towards our goals, and it means that my muscles are growing like crazy now! If you are wanting in invest in something I would start with a pair of 15# weights and a pair of #5 pound weights, that at least gives you a nice weight for shoulders/back, and squats/deadlifts. And then grow from there. I also really like having a couple of kettle bells (less expensive!) I have a 10# and a 15# and really want a #35. Caution! Buying workout stuff is addictive! I have found all my plates and my first dumbells at Good Will and Value Village, always keep your eyes open! Other than weights: a good mat, supportive shoes, and killer headbands to keep your sweat at bay are all worthy investments. But? My favorite thing about working out at home? I can workout in my underwear and no one ever need know. heyo! I buy most of my workout clothes at Old Navy and Target, or I look for better brands at Good Will and Value Village (SO MANY IN MARCH! End of resolutions?)
How to do it with kiddos?: Two things here: one, expectations. The first few weeks/months you may be stopping your workout five… ten times, it might take you 1.5 hours to do the 45min workout. Or? You may have to stop all together and just call it good at 10min. But trust that doing some bit of something is still better for your brain and body than doing nothing. And secondly, the more you workout with kids around, the more normal it becomes. For our family it’s now just a part of the routine that “okay! I’m gonna workout now.” and they scatter to play. Or, they join in! It isn’t the most alonetime/break/easy when that happens, but I feel awesome about them choosing to stick with me and see me doing something I feel really great about modeling. But truly, the more you do it the more they really won’t care. Also? Full stop. If you plug your kiddo into netflix for 30min to get a sweat? No shame. It’s important to do what you need to do to be your best self and best parent, and sometimes that means some compromises. If we had more than one device/screen I’m sure I would be doing that too!
Here are some quotes and support from some of the ladies in our Facebook group, sharing a little about their at home practice:
“Give yourself grace! Realize you aren’t a paid athlete and it’s okay to have more than one priority in your life. Scratch that, not just okay but healthy! Finding balance is so difficult but if you keep trying to fit fitness in (even 15- 20 minutes) you will feel so much better.” -Christin
“When I first started working out, I used several DVDs. They were so hard because I was so unhealthy and out of shape. But I made it my mission to complete the workout even if I had to down modify or walk in place during some of the moves. Making it through to the end gave me a real sense of accomplishment even if I wasn’t doing exactly what was prescribed” -Nicole
“The biggest challenge I’ve always faced is getting discouraged when the results seem to take such a long time to achieve. I want to see and feel immediate changes, but I have to remember that I didn’t get to my current physical state overnight, so I need to commit to long term goals in order to see appreciable improvement. I continually remind myself that I will never see results for the work I never put in.” -Colleen
“My advice would be to do what you can day by day & build up from there. If you go full out right out of the shoot (lifting like the trainer on the screen, keeping up with reps, etc) then you’re likely to be super sore, discouraged because you can’t “keep up” and then burn out quickly, not to mention the risk for injury. (Uh, I remember when 3lb weights made me incapable of washing my hair… But I gradually increased and it felt AMAZING!) But the biggest part? Have a stellar accountability partner to check in with daily. It makes all the difference. And knowing that there will always be someone that wants to put you down for bettering yourself. Having someone to turn to when those negative thoughts creep in was vital in my initial success in learning to be consistent.” -Megan
“My biggest advice would be to start with small achievable goals. For me it was committing to 30 minutes a day. That seemed so easy to do and squeeze into my schedule when I just started out. Also finding a chunk of the day that you firmly dedicate to exercise no matter what’s going on – of course you do have to be flexible too because, life. There’s many a day I’m catching up on my missed workout in the evening… But it’s also way more tempting for me to skip it then. Be gentle with yourself and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day!” -Liza
“You have to start from somewhere!” -Kristen
This post got long! But if you have any other questions feel free to ask them here or on the FB page, I would love to chat more about this!