Is your week marked by gym guilt? Mine is. It starts on Monday morning when, full of good intentions, I book an evening session, pack a gym bag and lug it to work. By the afternoon, those good intentions will have evaporated and I will now be looking for any excuse to cancel my class and lug my bag back home. This cycle of intention-procrastination-guilt – and bag-lugging – is repeated every day until Friday, when I finally snap and haul my reluctant ass up the steps of the gym. But that's only on a good week. On a bad week, life gets in the way and the bag stays firmly zipped up until the following Monday.
If any of this sounds familiar, then I think I may have found a solution: if you can’t get to the gym, get the gym to come to you. Turn a corner of a room into a studio (and when I say “studio”, I mean just clear a bit of space around you so you can move), then hit the internet for easy workouts you can do at home. In my case, I want something quick I can do early morning before work, ideally in my pyjamas – because surely rolling out of bed a few times a week will be easier to commit to, won’t it?
Maybe… At least, thanks to YouTube, there are literally thousands of workout videos out there to use as motivation. The trick is to shop around, switch, swap, do a bit of this and a bit of that. Because that’s the joy of the internet – you can be rubbish. You can also give up halfway, decide it’s not for you and look for something else – there are no shouty instructors watching and judging you. For the record, I am a fan of Yoga With Adriene – not only is she a lovely person, but her 30-day yoga is awesome and totally doable every morning (see also Shona Vertue). I have tried this kettlebells workout (and survived) and have shopped around a lot on Popsugar Fitness, which has a lot of different workouts for different experience levels.
Gone are the days of ugly, expensive exercise machines that take up half your living room
When it comes to kit, things have moved on, too. Gone are the days of ugly, expensive exercise machines that take up half your living room. You can now buy equipment for less than the cost of a gym session – dumbbells, kettlebells, skipping ropes and resistance bands cost next to nothing (ignore the fitness snobs who will try and tell you the contrary) and you can pick up a yoga mat for under a tenner.
From experience, I would advise you set up your home gym near a floor-standing mirror (it helps to watch yourself going through your moves to check you’re doing it right). Before buying anything, think about storage – Pilates balls, for example, are big and annoying. And, finally, when you do find a workout you love on the internet, consider going to the gym and doing a few taster classes in it, too – it’s helpful to be taught the basics, safely, by a human being in the flesh.
But, but – will you keep up this new routine? That, I can’t guarantee. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that any fitness regime shouldn’t be a guilty chore. You may decide that, at the end of the day, you still need the discipline of a gym (and the shouty instructor). You may, like me, decide you want to try a bit of both – as and when you can. Whatever. Give home-gym-ing a go and it might mean you'll get a few days off from lugging your bag to work and back – and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?