Hope you are all well and staying safe during this uncertain period. At the moment in the UK we are in Lockdown to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many people are missing going to the gym and are trying to find ways to keep fit and active while at home. I agree during this period in time, we should try to keep fit and healthy in the body and the mind. When we go through a period of uncertainty it can affect our lifestyles and we have to adjust to new circumstances. My top tip for everyone at the moment is to find a new daily routine which brings you joy and keeps you in tune with staying healthy in the body and the mind.
Since we are unable to go to the gym, doing 'home workouts' is a big thing right now, however many people including me have been doing home workouts way before lock-down. The 'home workout' is actually the first type of workout I used to do when I first started exercising to improve my health. Obviously due to the lock-down, the market for home workouts has highly increased and there is now lots of content out there to choose from. Here is a list of my favorite Home Workouts to do a the moment during lock-down:
1. Using your Daily outdoor token to go for a brisk walk, run or cycle ride
At the moment we are allowed to leave our house once a day either to buy essential items from the grocery store or to do a form of exercise. I am back living with my parents in the countryside during lock-down, therefore I am not the key-person who goes out to buy essential items. This means I am fortunate enough to be able to use my daily outdoor token to go out and do a form of exercise. Using your daily outdoor token for exercise is a great way to get outdoors and feel good. I myself have been doing a mixture of walks, running and cycling on different days. It is lovely to be out in the countryside with the weather getting warmer, I cherish the moment I get to leave the house dearly. It is also time for me to reflect on the bigger picture, to regain some perspective and to also take time to myself.
Running has always been one of my favorite forms of exercises. Since I was in my late teens, I started running, with the first runs being up the hill at the foot of my house. It is so great to come back to my roots and see how much fitter I have become. Taking familiar routes down country lanes and remembering where I used to stop and turn round to go back home, I am amazed by how much further and faster I can now run. For anyone new to running, I would recommend to start with a small distance and with a mindset of no judgement. The great thing about running outdoors is that it is hard to compare yourself with someone else (unless you run together with someone, which I highly dislike, running has always been a solo activity for me to have time to myself and to reflect). Take periods to walk as well as run if you need to. There are many training plans out there which will help coach you week by week to run up to 5k; Couch to 5K by the NHS is the most favored workout plan; many of my friends and clients have started here to get into running. When I started running I did not use a plan, I just went out and ran, then when I got tired I walked, then when I felt ready I would run again. The next day I would do the same thing, trying to take less walking breaks, and increase the time I ran. Either way, both give you something to aim for and also something to achieve especially during this period in time. While I am running now, I tend to run about 7-8k when I go out. Some days I love to just leisurely run along and take in the views, fresh air and the atmosphere of spring. To help myself keep motivated and to not get bored (I know this is common for people running long distances) I not only listen to music but have started to use an app called Zombies, Run!. Yes the app makes you believe you have zombies chasing you at certain points during your run, but its really not that scary or particularly that bad. While you run, story content will be read to about your 'mission', you don't need to take a specific route or change direction, however it will tell you when the zombies are after you where you will have to sprint to get away. On your run you will also pick up items for your 'base' in 'Abel Township' and will drop items if you do not outrun a zombie chase. This has really kept me motivated while running recently, and is a great way to add some motivation for me to do some interval training/sprints into my runs. The zombie chases during each 'mission' is random, so there have been some times when a 'zombie' has been chasing me while I am running up a hill which has been a massive challenge for me, but great for my fitness and something I would definitely find hard to motivate myself to do. I also love the story telling during the run; you can listen to your own music on your smartphone and have the app running, it cleverly phases your music out and in when needed.
Of course running isn't for everyone, especially for those with certain injuries. During this time, it is good to be aware of the changes in your routine and try not to overuse or overdo anything. If you have issues running, maybe don't run every day but mix it up with cycling or brisk walking. If you have a bike, it is a great opportunity to go out for bike rides. I am not a big cyclist myself. I do not own any cycling gear or have much confidence road cycling so I cannot really share my knowledge on that. However during this time the roads are quieter and living in the countryside the roads are pretty safe anyway. Edwin, my autistic brother, Dad and I will go cycling to the next village along, down a country road which goes up and down a hill along the way. It's only about 8-9km, but the hilly terrain makes it definitely a workout. As the weeks have gone by, we all have found we are able to cycle this route a little faster, and the massive hill is getting easier (it's still not easy, I have to say!). If you're 'not a cyclist' like me, during this time, while the roads are quiet, it is a great opportunity to get out on your bike and find a route you feel safe to cycle for exercise.
I understand not everyone can run or have access to a bike, however we all can use our daily outdoor token to go out for a walk. Walking is one of the best things I think you can do for your body and mind. There have been studies showing that walking can ease anxiety while in the middle of a stress hormone surge. Walking for 20-30 minutes in each day 5 times a week, studies have shown can make people less anxious as effectively as anti-depressants (I read these stats from Sarah Wilson's book on Anxiety; First we make the beast beautiful). When I walk, I just like to walk, since I usually run or cycle for physical exercise. If you are walking not for your mental health but more for physical exercise, try to keep up a pace. Again finding a training plan or listening to music or a podcast is something that will keep you motivated and help you keep up the pace.
Another thing I understand during this time, some people are unable to get out by themselves since they have children, someone they are looking after or a dog. If you can take your dog with you, that would be great; same with your children, trying to encourage them to keep active and educate them about the importance of exercise. Obviously if you are looking after someone, if you can take them out, do what is sensible in their boundaries, especially if they are vulnerable at the moment. Whatever form of exercise you are doing outside, please remember to wash your hands when you arrive home to prevent the spread of coronavirus. If you can't get out whatever constraint you may have to do exercise outdoors, there are many ways to keep active indoor in your own home which we will talk about next.
2. Blogilates for Pilates and HIIT on YouTube
Cassey Ho of Blogilates is where I actually started to get into doing exercise over 10 years ago. I have been doing her YouTube videos on and off for over a decade and is probably my favorite home workout to go to. The past couple of years I have unfortunately fallen off doing her YouTube videos and home workouts in favor of going to the gym or going to CrossFit. Now that we are in lock-down, I have really enjoyed revisiting and doing her YouTube videos again. Most of her videos are either HIIT or pilates based and my gosh you will feel the burn during an abs or butt or leg or arms video. Some videos she likes to combine HIIT moves with Pilates creating her own workout which is calls PIIT. She also has some cardio based and dance videos as well. Because Cassey has been making videos for over 10 years, she has a lot of content, I promise you will be able to find a video from her which you haven't done before, keeping your workouts fresh. However when there is so much content, it can be hard to pair which videos to do together. On her YouTube page, there are some videos put together into a workout series which you can do or every month on her website she puts together a 'Workout Calendar' with certain videos to do each day. Since the beginning of this month, I have been following her Workout Calendar and have really been enjoying it. Each day is a different body part and even though that certain part has been on fire during the workout, I love how motivating and positive her videos are. I have found doing her videos again really fun. Her positive chat and attitude put me in a better mood and mindset which I have really missed. I highly recommend giving her workout videos a go.Her videos are more marketed for females however whether male or female; you will find the workouts just as hard and I believe everyone can benefit from doing Pilates to help keep the body and muscles in tune.
3. IG Live classes on Instagram
OK so this is a bit of a new one for me and I'm sure many of you. Instagram has really blown up the past couple of years with the platform now offering it users to film live videos. With all gyms and fitness studios closed, many have taken to putting on Live IG classes on their Instagram. Filmed from the Trainers homes, you can follow and workout with them live from your own home. At first I was a bit skeptical about this concept however I did my first IG Live Fitness class with BarrysUK and loved it. I like to just use my phone,which I take with me during the workout if I'm down on the floor or I prop it up on a table if I'm stood up, then Bluetooth the sound to a speaker. I know many tech savvy people will cast it onto their television screens for betting viewing. I have really enjoyed working out at the same time as my trainer (and also see them suffer during the workout) and with other people all around the world. People can comment during their workouts which the trainer might be able to see, so if you're not sure you've swapped sides for instance, you can ask!
Another great thing about IG Live classes, even if you cannot catch the class at the scheduled time, you have 24 hours until the class disappears from their profile. Just click on their profile picture. I have done a few classes like this as it gives me more flexibility and you get a similar experience. What I like about this concept is that the classes each day are varied and different meaning you will never do the same workout twice which is the advantage over doing a workout video on YouTube, each day there will be a different workout programmed.
I have done all different types of workouts using my IG Live including; HIIT, Yoga, Barre, aerobics, dance and even a handstand workshop! Some people I would recommend checking out for their IG Live classes are: BarrysUK, 1Rebel, Bloklondon, Sweaty Betty, Psycle and New Motion Fitness. Remember to check our their IG TV as well as their IG live feed to see if there are any workout videos on there also.
4. The Body Coach TV (Joe Wicks) on YouTube
I'm going to tell you something, I had never done a Joe Wicks Workout until we went into lock-down. Joe Wicks AKA The Body Coach has been around for a couple of years and has really blown up. If you haven't heard of him, you must have been living under a rock (or really have no interest in health and fitness). Well known also for his cookbooks; Lean in 15, I have had many clients tell me they have done his workouts on YouTube and have bought his meal and training plans to do along side Personal Training with me.
Recently receiving his Gold Play Button on YouTube for having over 2 million subscribers, Joe Wicks has a large amount of content on his YouTube channel of workouts you can do at home. Most or even all his videos are based on HIIT Training and has tried to make his workouts accessible to all. He has videos tailored for beginners to exercise, seniors and children. His latest workout series P.E with Joe, with new videos released daily or you can join him Live on YouTube 9am Monday-Friday; is something that would be great for households to do who have children where you and them could get active together for 30 minutes each day.
4. Down Dog app for Yoga
I have been using Down Dog for a couple of years now and it has really helped me start a daily yoga practice and improve my creativity when I teach and practice my own flows. Down Dog is an app you can download onto your phone. During the Coronavirus pandemic, they have kindly unlocked the premium version for all users until May 1st, but the free version is just as good. The great thing about Down Dog is that it creates a flow for you each time you use it, meaning you will never do the same exact flow twice. The voicing cues and visuals are clear and it also plays music while you practice. You can set the level you would like at the beginning of your practice. When I first started using the app, I started on 'beginner 2 and as my practice of yoga has got stronger, I worked my way up to advanced which includes a few more advanced poses and arm balances. You can also set the length on your practice giving you great flexibility. Some days I will practice using the app for 50 minutes while other times, if I only have 20 minutes I can set it to suit me. There are other options you can choose from such as choosing to boost a particular aspect of your practice such as back bends, core strength or stretches.
5. Cat Meffan for Yoga on YouTube
There are many YouTube channels to check out for YouTube and I can recommend Yoga With Adrienne and Yoga by Candace. However since Lock down I have recently been doing Yoga on YouTube with Cat Meffan. Her name has popped up on my Instagram by a couple of people I follow and I thought I would give her a go. Her channel offers yoga suitable for all levels, with a few more intermediate practice videos which is what I was looking for. Her videos are edited so that she adds a voice over later to her flows making it clear and concise what you need to be doing. There is no music playing during her flows, but you can easily play your own music off another device while you have the video on. She has flows of different length as well as levels, so I am sure you will fill find a video that will suit you. At the moment there are enough videos by her to keep you going, yet there is less variety. I am sure with the many people now doing more yoga online, she probably has had a demand to make more videos so subscribe to her channel to make sure you find out when her new yoga videos will be released.
6. Zoom classes for yoga and fitness
Since Lock down, Zoom calling has been a big thing! Mostly used by companies for online conference calling, many people around the world are using it to keep in touch with their friends and families. By being able to have up to 100 people in one call and also being able to see your participants on camera; fitness professionals have taken to Zoom to run their fitness classes live and online in their own homes.
What I like about zoom classes is they are more interactive than just putting on a video on YouTube. You can get feedback from your instructor as they can see you on your camera and be motivational when you need it. I have taught a few yoga classes via zoom and have found being able to see my students on screen during the class very beneficial; knowing whether I need to go slower or faster or if anyone needs a bit more assistance or another option. Fitness professionals are able to run all types of classes via Zoom as well as tailored Personal Training sessions for those who may need a bit more attention. Obviously these classes have to be scheduled at a certain time, which many like, however it gives you less flexibility of when during the day your would like to work out and you cannot do the workout later.
Most classes are 30-40 minutes long as Zoom has put a time cap of 40 minutes when there are 3 or more participants in a call for their free version. I am offering a free 40 minute Yoga Flow for all levels on Tuesdays at 11:30am. I am also offering 1-2-1 Personal Training Sessions via Zoom for a small donation (£3 for 30minutes £5 for the hour) to be booked in at a suitable time for both of us. Contact me if you are interested in either.
At the moment I am not running any other classes via Zoom, as I have had no demand, but I am happy to offer some sort of fitness class, please send me a message if you are interested? There are many other class based instructors now teaching Zumba, Barre, Clubbersize and HIIT via zoom, so get in touch with your class instructor at your regular gym to see if they are offering anything.
New Motion Fitness, who I have been following on Instagram and have been doing their classes via IG Live, are moving over to zoom from next week. Classes are free and they have a large number of classes to choose from daily.
Ok guys, I hope these recommendations help you keep active during your time in lock down. Fitness has changed a lot in the past coming weeks, however we have adapted well to the change. I have loved how it has also brought me back to my roots as doing a 'home workout'. Home Workouts are not a new thing and I am thoroughly enjoying rediscovering how much I like to workout at home. Hopefully even out of lock-down many will continue to do home workouts or incorporate them into their regime. I personally find my body prefers to do body weight exercises and it is something I really enjoy doing. Our bodies get used to doing the same things, so when you mix it up and work out in a different way once and again, you might discover a whole load of benefits you didn't even know of.
Wishing everyone to stay active, healthy and safe.