Surprise! It’s my living room!
Over the years, my workouts have ranged from the typical gym rat stuff and dance classes to DUT, boxing and muay thai. For the most part, I was a committed gym goer and would make the after work slog and occasional Saturday class 4-6 days a week. But, once I started my business and began working at home, my desire to shimmy into spandex and mingle with the general public steadily waned. As my hips started to spread and my waist began to thicken I knew I had to do something – fast. Up to that point, I hadn’t considered working out at home to be “real” working out (if you aren’t surrounded by weight racks and grunting it doesn’t count, right?) so I decided to take a look at the pros & cons.
PRO: There Are (Almost) no Witnesses
Children too young to effectively communicate tales of your woeful performance and dogs do not count – thank god. My dogs watch me with a mixture of bewilderment and pity so potent that I cringe to think of what they’d say if they could speak. But, on the plus side, whether you’re shaking it along to CIZE, trying some random ab circuit and huffing and puffing through a Pilates routine you don’t have to let your appearance get in the way of your effort. And we all know that more effort = better results.
CON: Lack of Constructive Criticism & Feedback
No one is perfect and more often than not, the first time you try a complicated exercise you’ll get it wrong. Bad form can result in not only self-sabotage but injury as well. When you’re working without a trainer or instructor you have to be especially careful about listening to your body and checking your form in the mirror. Plus, if you slip in your own sweat you might be laying there for awhile before anyone finds you.
PRO: No One-Uppers Around to Ruin Your Workout
You know the one-uppers. They turn their treadmill to 7 when they see yours on 6. They sprint through the group circuit to lap the rest of the class or grunt dramatically in the weight room to get as many eyes as possible on their latest P.R. It’s a constant competition with their chosen target whether that person is aware or not and beating the competition is their biggest motivator.
CON: Lack of Competition Can Mean Lack of Motivation
Without the drive to beat the best in the class or the person next to you, you’ll have to dig deep to motivate your way into your best workout. Whether you’re going all out or draped over the arm of the sofa panting into your water bottle no one else will be the wiser. This can make working out alone surprisingly hard at times but also incredibly rewarding.
PRO: Access to More Options
I subscribed to Beachbody on Demand through a friend about 6 months ago ( her referral link). Since then I’ve tried bits and pieces of various programs including CIZE, 22 Minute Hard Corps, Core de Force, Piyo and Insanity Max30. Whether I want a high impact workout or I’m in more of a mellow stretch and strength mood I can typically find something within a few clicks that fits the bill.
CON: TOO MANY OPTIONS
There is A LOT of stuff on the YouTube (a favorite source for workout videos) and a failure to plan is a plan to fail. When faced with 100’s of different work out options it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed turns to over it and pretty soon you’re sullenly sitting on your yoga mat contemplating what you’re going to eat next. Try to limit your ‘search time’ or have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish before you start looking for your workout. You can also find and subscribe to a few channels that you like and start out by limiting your searches to those. Following a program helps a lot here because you always know what’s next on the schedule.
PRO: Getting Results from Anywhere
Recently when I went on vacation I was able to (for the most part) keep up with my workouts because I could stream them anywhere there was wifi. Occasionally, finding enough open space to allow a 5’8″ person to do drop kicks without putting a hole in the wall was a challenge but that’s a different story. In the age of Airbnb you can’t always count on having a fitness center handy – and even then the type and quality of equipment are not guaranteed.
CON: Lack of Equipment
Some of the workouts available online use dumb bells. Set by set they’re not too expensive but the cost quickly adds up and they’re not the easiest to store or ship. Resistance bands are a space & cost-friendly option but they don’t always translate to what your instructor may be doing. One of the major benefits of going to a gym is the shared cost of all the fitness equipment you need to get into tip-top shape — whether you’re actually using it or not. By now I’ve got quite the little arsenal of at home gear including bands, a set of dumb bells, a TRX with door anchor, a stability ball and a collection of yoga mats but most of it is lightweight and easily kept out of the way.
But Can You REALLY Get Into Shape Working Out at Home?
I think this answer will vary depending on a few different factors. Everyone’s body is different as are metabolic rates, fat to muscle ratios etc. etc. That being said, there’s no reason you can’t get into as good, if not BETTER shape, working out at home. I find that I have to work harder mentally at home to push myself, but, because there’s no travel involved, I’m far less likely to skip a workout and I’m way less distracted. In the past, I did a fair amount of lifting, so I have noticed that my muscle definition is a little behind where it would be if I was following a more traditional workout. However, the muscle I have built is just as dense as it has been in the past, which goes to show that pushing heavy stuff around isn’t the only way to build mass. As for cardio, I’ve found that my heart rate is consistently as high and sometimes higher than it used to get in the gym. Recently, I went to the hotel gym because my wifi wasn’t working and my normal treadmill routine that I hadn’t done in months was a breeze. That’s enough evidence for me that my heart is getting the work it needs to stay healthy.
Bottom line: if you’re at a point where the drive to the gym or the idea of lots of eyes on your latest attempt at dolphin pose are what’s keeping you from working out, turning your living room into your personal gym could be a great option for you. Try it once or twice a week to supplement your more traditional workouts and you might be surprised by the results.