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Working Out In Small Spaces

exercise

With quarantine restrictions slowly but surely lifting, it’s tempting to think that life might jump right back to “normal.” For highly active people, one of the most frustrating parts of society’s shutdown has been the closure of gyms. Gyms can be a great resource for those who want to switch up their routine by trying various types of equipment or classes. Now, largely stuck indoors, many people are feeling like their workout plans have gone flat. But the reality is that you don’t need a full-size gym to get a full-scale workout in.

If you want to get a little fresh air…

If your apartment is tiny, you’re probably itching to head out. Depending on how comfortable you are with going outside, heading to the park is one of the best ways to breathe a little fresh air and get your heart rate up at the same time. Your own two feet can walk or jog you just about anywhere, but busting out your bicycle or roller blades makes things even more fun. You might also consider a socially distanced game of frisbee or tennis with a friend. Or, as beaches reopen, taking a swim is a simple way to both workout and cool off in the summer months. Take care and wear a mask if things get crowded, but grabbing your sneakers and exercising outdoors can be rewarding and enjoyable.

If you’re really stuck inside…

Let’s say the restrictions are a little heavier where you live, or you’re just not quite ready to be out in public that much — no problem. There’s actually plenty of workouts that can be carried out at home with little or no equipment at all.

You might already have a few pieces of equipment lying around that can help you complete an at-home workout that feels just like the one at the gym. In addition to traditional bicep curls, free weights are also good to add to things like leg lifts, lunges, or squats and can provide that extra bit of difficulty to push through.

Yoga mats make a great at-home gym item for stretching on and keeping yourself off the hard floor while doing so. You can also pick up a resistance band or two in different strengths and attach them either under your feet or to various spots in your home. Or a medicine ball can be a handy tool for adding a little more weight to your crunches and core twists.

If you’re missing cardio, grabbing a jump rope from the dollar store can get your blood pumping. (You can also simply imagine that you’re using a rope, silly as it may sound.)

Let’s say you’re really keen on getting started, but you’re a little strapped for cash. Equipment is a terrific tool for upping your physical game and can increase your stamina, but when it comes to challenging times like these, the basics can serve us just as well as the fancy stuff. Here’s a shortlist of exercises requiring nothing but what you already have in your home:

  • Crunches
  • Planks
  • Pushups
  • Situps
  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Wall sits
  • Tricep dips using the couch or a chair
  • Burpees
  • Yoga stretches
  • Jumping jacks
  • High knees
  • Mountain climbers

Now the key will be to find a combination of these moves that work for you. Start slow and with ten or 15 reps per exercise, and then slowly increase the number of reps as your stamina improves, allowing yourself breaks in between to catch your breath and drink some water. If you’re looking for a little more instruction, try pulling up a YouTube video series or two to follow along with, like this one. Just remember to stretch before and after you work out to avoid straining your muscles!

To keep yourself motivated, crank up some tunes! (Some people even find that watching the news or an episode of their favorite TV shows keeps them going.) Contrary to what you might think, longer workouts don’t necessarily equate to better results. Spending 15 to 30 minutes daily getting your heart rate up is a perfectly healthy way to begin.

As gyms tentatively reopen, your favorite machines will once again be available. Maybe you’ll reconnect with your personal trainer — or maybe you’ll find that your new favorite personal trainer is yourself!

-Allison Rapp

Photo: Exercise equipment (public domain)

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