Gym closures have changed our ways of working out and, while things are slowly reopening, exercise has moved into more creative spaces. Case in point: stars like Venus Williams are sharing home workout videos, livestreaming impressive sets of bicep curls from their backyards. It’s something many Americans are keen to try, according to digital fitness brand Polar, which has reported a 13 percent increase in outdoor exercise since lockdown began.
Working out at home can also have an unexpected side effect—it can make you work harder. “I worked out several times a week before the pandemic,” says Elizabeth Lucchesi, a real estate professional, whose colleagues at Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. describe her as a major fitness buff. “But now I find I exercise even more. I don’t have to pack a gym bag or commute—I have the time.”
A family room with a home gym, and a full bath with sauna are on offer on the walk-out lower level of this Maryland home, on the market with Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.—facilities that Lucchesi sees going hand-in-hand with a workout plan.
Lucchesi isn’t alone in finding a few extra minutes for a home workout. It’s a trend that Christopher Hoey, a professional trainer and physiotherapist with a number of high-profile clients in the Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland areas, has noticed too.
“In a gym setting, I’d often catch the person I was training looking at the clock,” he says. “Now that we’ve moved our workouts to their homes and yards, I’ll call time on a session and they’ll be surprised it’s gone so fast. A lot of the time, they ask if we can do more.”
Working out in your own environment immediately gives you a psychological boost—Christopher Hoey
Seth Watsky, an Associate Vice President at Christie’s International Real Estate, points out one drawback to his home exercise routine. “I’m working out more, but the downside is I don’t have weights or an instructor with me. I worry that the level of intensity isn’t as high as when I’m in the gym.”
“I’ve noticed that working out at home makes someone appreciate their own space a little more,” says Hoey. “It gives them the opportunity to connect to it.” Image: Getty Images
So, is it possible to keep up the pace and get results from exercising at home? “Absolutely,” says Hoey. “Your house is probably one of your largest investments, so working out in that environment—one you’ve made a personal choice to be in— immediately gives you a psychological boost. But the trick is to keep it creative. So, you’ve got to find ways to constantly keep it stimulating and avoid getting bored.” Here are four tips to put that into action.
Plan to Succeed
“When everything closed down, I knew I needed to create a weekly exercise plan and stick to it,” Lucchesi says. “That’s my top advice: make working out a scheduled event. If you don’t, you won’t move your body. Your week may be busy, but make sure to schedule you first—and don’t look for an excuse, you will find it.
This home in Paris, available through Belles demeures de France, boasts a state-of-the-art home gym. A benefit during lockdown which, its owner says, was both “practical and efficient.”
“It doesn’t need to be hard work. If you find something that you love doing, it can be really fun. But then tell someone about it—tell them you’re going to walk a mile and lift two full wine bottles for your bicep curls for the day. And give them permission to keep you accountable.”
Switch up the kind of exercise you try: yoga on one day, TRX training on another. The change in routine can help to keep you motivated—Seth Watsky
“During the pandemic, I’ve taken all workouts outdoors,” Hoey says. “It’s had great results. Being in a beautiful, visually interesting setting makes it easy to distract yourself. You push a little harder without realizing it.”
Watsky is a fan of heading outside, too. “I’m fortunate to live across from Hamilton Park in Jersey City and, after lockdown restrictions were eased, I’ve been able to exercise there regularly—it’s helped keep me focused and feeling productive. Weekends, it feels great to get out of the city and go for hikes or long bike rides”
According to Hoey, the distraction of an outdoor view—such as that offered by this not only makes workouts seem shorter, but also means his clients work harder without realizing it. Image: Getty Images
While exercising outdoors during the heat of summer may seem counterintuitive, Hoey points out a major benefit. “Most gyms and indoor spaces are kept pretty cold. Being outside right now makes it easier to warm up muscles and work on issues like back pain or sciatica.” While he recommends avoiding the hottest parts of the day, he points out that the warm weather means you can try different kinds of exercise you wouldn’t normally do with your trainer in a gym. “For example, I get those clients who are looking to lose weight to swim. It’s such a great workout.”
Make the Most of Your Space
Whether you have access to a home gym or simply build up a sweat in your living room, Hoey believes you can make workouts work for you, no matter the space you have. “Some of my clients’ properties have those beautiful pools, tennis courts, and even private gyms, which are great for exercising,” he says, “but just finding a set of stairs to do step-ups can give you a good workout.”
“River Oak Farm—a home in New Jersey available through Special Properties, Division Brook Hollow Group, Inc.—offers an indoor pool and spa, along with a soccer field and home gym. It’s one of my dream spaces for working out,” says Watsky.
“I live in an apartment, so on days when I can’t get outside, I’ve turned my bedroom and living room into my gym,” Watsky adds. “I keep it interesting by switching up the kind of exercise I do: yoga on one day, TRX training on another. It not only activates different muscle groups, but the change in routine also keeps me motivated.”
It doesn’t need to be hard work. If you find something that you love doing, it can be really fun—Elizabeth Lucchesi
“There are some days where I can see that the weather, or a client’s work schedule, will make getting out of the house a challenge,” Hoey admits. That’s where an online session can come in handy.
Virtual workouts, such as those offered by Peloton’s digital lifestyle app, can be an effective way to exercise from home—especially for those who may not have much time in their schedule. Image: Peloton
“At first the notion of virtual classes was silly to me,” Lucchesi admits. “I value having an instructor to correct my form and push me to get more out of my sessions. But virtual classes have honestly been a highlight of working out at home. I didn’t think those small 20-minute bursts of working out would get me through the head game that lockdown can play, but they have.
“So head online if it’s the only way you can get moving that day. Science has proven that any form of exercise can boost your mood—it definitely helped me to push through this time.”
Banner image: Getty Images