In the 20 years I worked as an in-home trainer, I quickly realized home workouts are a lot like going on a new ride at the local fair: You’re halfway through before you realize it’s scarier than you anticipated, you’re not having fun, and you’re screaming at the ride operator to stop the damn thing like now.
Or maybe that’s just me.
The only difference is once you’re done with the carnival ride you don’t ever have to look at it again and can go on your merry way. That is, unless someone recorded the event on Facebook Live, in which case it will haunt you for the rest of your life.
It’s a little different for home workouts, especially if you’ve invested $3,000 in a piece of equipment (plus an additional $500 for the leg press option), refinished the basement and installed a new TV above the treadmill so you can binge watch The Bachelor during your long cardio workouts.
Flash forward two years.
Your workout space looks like a scene from a Stephen King movie, with enough dust and cobwebs to make for a year-around Halloween attraction.
That’s typically what I’d find when going to a client’s house for the first time and asking, “Do you own any equipment you’d like to include in our workouts?”
Thus begins the grand tour of vintage exercise equipment, treadmills used as hanging racks for fine washables and a Thigh Master circa 1980.
Oh, the memories.
Truth is, exercising at home is fraught with obstacles you won’t encounter if you leave the house to get in shape.
For example, lying on your back doing crunches at the gym does not usually inspire you to look for cobwebs over your head that suddenly require your immediate attention.
You also won’t find baskets of dirty laundry beckoning for your attention from the corner of the room. (And if you do, you may want to quit that gym.)
In other words: no distractions.
Although this obviously does not prevent you from creating your own distractions by checking your phone every five minutes and having 30-minute conversations between each set of squats.
In all honesty, I admit I sometimes get sidelined by conversations. Okay, more than sometimes.
But I justify it by reminding myself that, since I work out of the house, my workouts double as my social life. Sad but true.
It’s like friends with fitness benefits.
If you prefer to exercise at home because of convenience or weather issues, you can get a great workout if you abide by a few guidelines, which I’ve compiled over the years.
Buy some fun equipment
Visual appeal can play a role in motivation. A colorful yoga mat and bright blue fitness ball makes exercise seem more like fun than work, at least until you start to feel the burn.
Grab a friend
Ask nearby friends to meet on specific days, even if just one day a week, and alternate the homes you use for the workout. The homeowner gets to call the shots and lead the workout. Make it even more motivating by checking in with each other on non-meeting days. Falling off the wagon means the other person picks up the tab for a coffee or smoothie.
Keep the treadmill out of the bedroom
Keeping the treadmill in the bedroom makes it less likely you’ll use it and risk waking your sleeping partner. Consider buying a home machine that rolls away if you’re short on space.
Monitor your heart rate
A heart rate monitor enables you to track the intensity of your workout, which can motivate you to work out harder and burn more calories.
Create a pleasant exercise environment
I cannot emphasize this enough. I’ve worked out with clients in dingy, stuffy basements without ventilation where I was convinced I’d eventually meet my demise from inhaling long-forgotten asbestos fibers. Keep it clean and uncluttered and well ventilated with an overhead or freestanding fan.
Design a simple ready-to-go circuit
Instead of trying to figure out an approach every workout, create a quick circuit that works the major muscle groups.
Do it first thing
Avoid finding excuses to ditch your workout as the day progresses by exercising first thing in the morning. Wake up 20 minutes earlier and set your alarm clock before the rest of the family wakes up.
YOUR TURN. What equipment do you own that’s gathering dust in your attic or basement? Let me know in the comments section below…
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Your Ageless Body Coach,
P.S. I cheated! This post originally appeared back in August of 2016 but it’s just as relevant today. I’m busy putting the final touches on my How to Firm Up webinar tomorrow :).