In comparison to costly gym memberships and packed studio classes, the convenience of working out in the comfort of your home can’t be beat. However, it’s hard to stay motivated when the couch beckons, distractions abound, and you really don’t feel like moving your body after a long day. But with the right equipment and mental attitude, home-gym workouts may be your fast track to fitness. Dust off your dumbbells and roll out your yoga mat. Here are all the benefits of at-home workouts, along with five ways to actually stick with them.
Remind yourself of all the time and money you’re saving.
“Two benefits of at-home workouts: It doesn’t cost a dime, and it is beyond convenient,” says Aaptiv trainer Amanda Butler. “It’s raining or a blizzard outside? No problem! Baby is taking a nap? No problem! The beauty of at-home workouts is that you literally don’t have to leave your house. No excuses.”
According to personal trainer Therese Zarlengo, working out at home provides a less intimidating environment. This can help with consistency and minimize feelings of self-doubt. You can exercise at whatever time works with your schedule, whether you’re in the living room or a more formal workout space. Another advantage? You get to make the rules, adds personal trainer Monica Lam-Feist, fitness lead at AlgaeCal. You can choose a short yoga flow one morning, then focus on a longer core or lower-body strength-training session the next day.
Plus, you can get creative with workouts at home. “As a working mom, I tend to work out from home more often than the gym,” says Katy Lush, a Chicago-based pilates teacher. “Personally, I want to seek out as much time with my children as possible. Therefore, the pure act of driving somewhere, taking an hour class, and driving back cuts into a large amount of quality time. Plus, there’s the childcare to coordinate and pay for. Instead, I tend to ‘stack my life’ with ways to combine errands and activities. I will walk with the kiddos to the store, buy groceries, then carry groceries and kids on the walk home. That’s like cardio and weight training all rolled into one!”
Put exercise at the top of your to-do list, and don’t get distracted.
Although you may have the best intentions at home, your workout can easily be derailed by responsibilities and distractions. Then you fall into a pattern of swearing you’ll fit in a workout tomorrow or the next day, or, well, never. This is completely normal. It’s also why you need to plan exercise just like you would any other vital obligation.
“You must dedicate yourself to your at-home workout and not let yourself get easily distracted by your spouse, your kids, your to-do list, the dust that’s collecting on shelves, the laundry that needs doing, etc.,” Butler says. “Be as intentional as possible. Put your workout on the calendar, mute your phone, and put yourself first for 30 minutes or whatever amount of time. Because when you take care of yourself, you are better able to show up for yourself and your family.”
Tammy Salamone, a certified personal trainer and mom to three kids, suggests thinking of your workout as a non-negotiable appointment. You aren’t able to answer emails or fold clothes because you’re busy. Lush agrees; she adds her workouts to her phone calendar with an alarm just like she does for other appointments. If you aim to exercise around the same time every day, you’re less likely to skip your workout and the sooner it gets done. Why? Researchers say this approach creates an instigation habit, or a behavior cue, that tends to lead to better consistency.
Choose short, effective workouts, and add variety wherever possible.
Lack of time and lack of motivation are two common roadblocks related to exercising at home, but both have simple solutions. First, don’t overcomplicate things. You can definitely complete a challenging workout in 30 minutes or less, such as circuit training with short bursts of strength and cardio. Second, utilize pieces of equipment to avoid boredom, change up your routine, and keep your muscles guessing.
This may include:
- Light and heavy sets of weights
- Yoga mat
- Stability ball
- Piece of cardio equipment, such as a bike, a treadmill, or an elliptical
- Resistance bands
Or use your own bodyweight and the furniture around you, Butler says. “Think push-ups, squats, lunges, arch-ups, planks, mountain climbers, and, of course, burpees. A chair or couch can be used for tricep dips and/or step-ups. If you want to work on core strength, put your feet under your couch to hold you down as you do sit-ups.”
Not sure where to start? There are tons of Aaptiv workout that require only dumbbells or bodyweight. You can filter workouts by level of difficulty, duration, music genre, and more to find the ideal at-home class for you.
Rely on your community to stay motivated.
If you feel a little lonely due to your solo fitness efforts, turn to both real and virtual connections for extra motivation and a sense of joint responsibility. A workout buddy can give you that extra push and an online community can help you feel like you’re not alone in striving toward your fitness goals. “Make a pact with your spouse or friend to complete a certain amount of workouts each week,” Butler says. “Keep each other accountable.”