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Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Keeping your workouts creative at home

<p>A workout mat and set of weights sit on the ground. </p>

A workout mat and set of weights sit on the ground.

The coronavirus has separated me from my friends, school, my favorite restaurants and coffee shops. But, there is one place I miss most of all:

The gym.

Between my own weight-lifting schedule and my job as a group exercise leader through IU Recreational Sports, I spent practically every single day at the gym before quarantine began. Staying at home has required a lot of creativity when it comes to creating a new workout regimen because I don’t have access to gym facilities or equipment. 

Fortunately, there are ways to use a small space for an efficient workout, and there are plenty of items you might have sitting around at home you can use for added weight and resistance. Here are some tips:

Define your space

To exercise at home, you don’t need a large amount of space. If you have a living room, basement or bedroom, you can section off a small area for exercises. You’ll want to be able to step side to side, forward and backward and preferably have enough space to move your body into a plank or pushup position on the ground. I have a small corner in my bedroom where I’ve set up a mat, a resistance band and some weights for exercise.

Certain types of exercise, like dancing or kickboxing, involve movements that could take up significantly more space and cause damage to objects like coffee tables, lamps and vases. Make sure you check over your workout before you begin so that you have ample space to exercise.

Get creative with your gear

I’m lucky I have weights and a mat at home, but exercise equipment can be expensive and is not always easy to find in store or online. However, there are options around your house that will allow you to challenge your body. 

Laundry detergent can be used as a makeshift dumbbell or kettlebell for bent over rows, kettlebell swings, bicep curls, weighted lunges and squats. Soup cans can act as light resistance for bicep curls, tricep extensions, shoulder presses, chest flys and more. Chairs can help assist tricep dips, incline pushups and split squats. Consider filling up your backpack with books to add extra weight for pushups, squats or lunges. Books can be easily added or taken off to tailor to your personal physical needs.

Don’t forget that bodyweight workouts can be just as effective, too. Pushups, squats, lunges, glute bridges and a variety of abdominal exercises can be just as intense without any form of external resistance.

Call a friend

Group exercise was one of my favorite ways to stay active because of the motivational environment that it provides. Two weeks ago I gathered 11 of my friends and we worked out over Zoom. Doing it together pushed us to keep up with one another and take smaller breaks in between sets to keep our heart rates up. I normally take longer breaks, so I was exhausted at the end but felt rejuvenated as well.

Exercising with a buddy is fun because you can motivate each other while getting much-needed social interaction. Consider planning your workout together beforehand and picking out motivating music that’ll keep you both hyped up.

Use online resources

IU Recreational Sports has moved group fitness online. RS posts weekly videos every Monday on its website of different classes that you can do from home. 

For muscular strength, check out barre fitness, core and pure strength. For cardiovascular exercise, cardio kickboxing and step are great options. For a combination of both, check out HIIT and total body conditioning. There are two power vinyasa yoga sessions available and cardio hip hop and Zumba are available for dance fitness.

Have questions about any of the exercises above, or just looking for ways to workout that are effective, creative and safe? Check out the ACE exercise library, a professional resource that can help you execute a variety of moves safely with or without equipment.

There are a lot of pressures to come out of quarantine looking better than before, but fitness isn’t about conforming your body to look a certain way. Rather, it should be about benefiting your health and celebrating what your body can do. Exercise provides mental and physical health benefits that can be helpful during this stressful time, so take this time to experiment with different forms of exercise that work for you and your body. Although working out at home might not be ideal, there are plenty of ways to keep your workouts productive, creative and fun.

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