There are two types of people in the world: those who love working out at the gym, and those who hate it. The reasons for this vary: too inconvenient to drive there, feeling too self-conscious around other people, the gym itself is always too busy, learning how to use the machines is too intimidating, the membership cost is more than your budget can bear, the list goes on. Whatever your reason, the good news is your workouts don’t have to be limited to a gym. Working out at home is actually easier than you think – and it’s not a cop-out, either! Ready to get started? These five steps will get you on track in no time.
Step 1: Evaluate your fitness level.
Note that this is not a wish list, but a reality check. Here are a few easy tests1 you can do to help establish your fitness starting point:
- Walk one mile and take your pulse
- Track how long it takes you to walk one mile
- Count how many push ups you can do at one time (don’t push it and injure yourself!)
- Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and see how far you can reach toward your toes
- Measure your waist just above the hipbone
You might be discouraged by the results, but remember: things will only get better from here on out! Giving yourself a starting line will not only help you know what level to begin your workout program at, but will also give you a way to measure your results.
If you’re really new to the fitness game or have significant health challenges, it might also be a good idea to talk with your doctor. They can recommend routines and even complementary diets to help you reach your health goals, and will make sure you have a healthy strategy in place.
Step 2: Find a workout plan.
The number one thing to remember here is that it doesn’t have to be complicated! There are all kinds of options for working out at home. You can find DVD’s, online videos, and entire YouTube channels dedicated to teach people how to exercise. They range in difficulty, and some are even free. Another option is using an app on your smart phone (check out this fitness app guide HERE). And with Pinterest and other social media sites at your fingertips, there are literally hundreds of simple workout plans available (use our Free 310 fitness challenges to get started).
Don’t discount the impact making simple lifestyle changes, like taking stairs instead of an elevator, or making an evening walk part of your daily routine. A quick word of advice is to make sure you know how to properly perform any exercises you attempt so you don’t accidentally injure yourself. A good workout plan will include instructions showing you how to safely do the exercises.
Bonus hint: be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Start at a level you can sustain and build on that instead of over-achieving and burning out.
Step 3: Create a space and get your gear.
Once you’ve decided on your workout plan, determine the gear your plan requires. Do you need hand weights? Resistance bands? A yoga mat? Fitness/workout balls? Acquire what’s necessary, and find a place to keep them. As simple as it sounds, the more work you have to do to “set up” and “tear down” your workout station every day can make it a deterring factor in actually working out. So do yourself a favor and make it easy. Keep your walking/running shoes right by the door, and store your heart rate monitor, sweat band, and headphones nearby. Get a basket to keep any weights and resistance bands in. If you’re using your TV for workout videos, permanently reconfigure your furniture arrangement so you don’t have to move it every day you want to exercise.
Step 4: Commit to a time of day.
People are pretty evenly divided as to whether morning or afternoon workouts are superior, but most everyone agrees that working out too late at night isn’t a good idea. One study2 showed that working out at 7am (compared with workouts at 1pm and 7pm) helped people sleep better. A pro of an afternoon workout is that your body’s core temperature is more likely to be optimal for an efficient workout.
Regardless of your preference, the main point is picking a time of day and consistently sticking with it. Building a habit of working out at home is what will bring you success, and consistency is the main ingredient of a habit.
Step 5: Get accountable.
One of the biggest downfalls to working out at home is the lack of accountability. It’s easier to fudge on that last five minutes or take unnecessary breaks. Even if you’re not physically working out together, find a friend to be your exercise buddy and hold each other accountable. Ask your spouse or roommate to check in on you – and give them permission to call you out if they notice you slacking! Invite others to go on your fitness journey with you. You’ll be more likely to follow through, you get the added benefit of shared knowledge and ideas, plus it makes it a lot more fun.
Our final word of advice: keep at it! Try to make it at least 30 days consistently working out. This is enough time to not only build a habit, but also start seeing results – which is one of the most encouraging motivations you can find!