Health & Fitness

How to work out at home if you don't want to go to the gym

Keep up with your fitness, even in self-quarantine.

Credit: Getty Images / Deagreez

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As you may have noticed over the past several months, staying housebound can result in serious stasis. Because of this, the news that some gyms and exercise studios around the country are opening up may come as welcome news to some—but perhaps not as much to others.

If you count yourself in the latter group, but still feel like your schedule could use an endorphin boost, don't despair. With the right mindset and a few tools, you can get a fun, effective exercise routine going right in the privacy of your own home. Check out these simple DIY workout tips that will make staying away from the gym a lot easier.

1. Get moving outside

maskworkout
Credit: Getty Images / Kemal Yildirim

A comfy, breathable mask is essential for outdoor workouts.

If you aren’t feeling sick or actively quarantining, you can get exercise outside as long as you maintain a safe distance from others—and, if you’ve been on conference calls and staring at your laptop all day inside, the fresh air will feel pretty good, too.

Block off the amount of time you’d usually devote to the gym or a workout class to taking a brisk walk, jog, or bike ride. You'll need a mask at least part of the time you're outside, so look for one that's lightweight, breathable, and easy to keep in place. We tested a bunch of cloth masks and landed on the Athleta mask as out clear favorite. The fitness apparel brand's mask is made of cool, athletic material, so it wicks sweat and feels great on, but also has three layers of fabric so it offers great protection.

Other than that, you don't really need anything to exercise outside, other than some sneakers and clothes you don’t mind sweating in. But it’s not a bad idea to have a good pair of earbuds (like $20-ish Mpow Flames, which are waterproof and stay in the ears during even the most vigorous of workouts) to escape into your favorite tunes, and a running watch, like the Garmin Forerunner 245, to track your distance and get the stats of your workout. (You can also use a running app, like Strava, if you don’t want a separate device.)

In addition to wearing a mask, be prudent about keeping a safe six-foot distance from others when you’re out there. When you get back, wash your hands and disinfect your phone and tech accessories.

2. Use YouTube and apps for strength or cardio sessions

niketrainingclub
Credit: Nike Training Club

A workout app like Nike Training Club can make exercising feel more fun.

If you’re committed to staying indoors, you can still get your sweat on with the help of workout apps and YouTube.

Our favorite fitness app, Nike Training Club is completely free. When you download it, you have access to hundreds of options that allow you to try out different workouts, from high intensity interval training to yoga, and target certain muscle groups, if that’s your aim. The app is great however you choose to use it, but it really shines when you select a program—a series of workouts led by one of Nike's trainers to reach a certain goal—so you have motivation to use it regularly.

There are also a lot of workout options on YouTube—so many that typing “30-minute cardio workout” into the search bar gives you seemingly endless results. One tried-and-true option is Popsugar Fitness. This channel has workouts from certified trainers and Barry’s Bootcamp and Zumba instructors in a range of session durations, from five minutes to an hour.

Finally, you can still reap the benefits of a Classpass membership, even if you’re holding off on visiting physical workout spaces. Depending on what the studios in your areas are offering, you can tune into livestream classes or browse its library of video and audio workouts from professional studios and instructors included with your membership. This gives you the feeling of taking a barre class—or, at least, getting a lesson from someone who teaches at a studio—without leaving the house.

3. Get tools to enhance your home workout experience

homeworkout
Credit: WOD Nation / Fit Simplify

Some accessories, like jump ropes and resistance bands, help ramp up home workouts.


Keeping workout equipment at home can help make laptop and app-led workouts more effective and exciting.

A great, inexpensive and space-conscious option: Resistance bands, like this set from Fit Simplify. These come in a pack of five different strength levels, plus an instruction booklet to teach you how to up the ante on exercises like squats, leg lifts, and bicycles.

For cardio, try jumping rope, which burns calories and gets your heart rate up. The WOD Nation jump rope is sturdy, swings fast and smoothly, and can be customized in length to fit your body.

When it’s time to stretch it out, use a foam roller. We like the LuxFit one, which helps ease out tight, sore muscles, and also serves as an effective plank stabilizer and yoga accessory.

4. Chill out with some yoga

lululemonmat
Credit: Reviewed / Bethany Kwoka

Practicing at home feels luxurious with this Lululemon mat.

Feeling the need for something more zen? (Can’t imagine why.) Roll out a yoga mat and work on your practice in your house—we’ve tested a bunch and like the reversible Lululemon mat best. To deepen your practice, a yoga block and strap, like this set from Gaiam, are only Prime two-day shipping away.

Any fitness app will have some kind of yoga program built in—but YouTube is your friend here, too. You can find your fill of Vinyasa flows with that search term alone, but if you want to stick with one playlist, check out Yoga with Adriene, a favorite of Reviewed’s trending content editor Amanda Tarlton, who moonlights as a yoga instructor when she’s not writing. This popular channel, led by Austin, Texas-based yogi Adriene Mishler, has a range of videos from short ones for beginners, long ones for advanced yogis, and some with fun, esoteric themes, like “finding your inner artist.”

5. Just get up from your seat sometimes

charge4
Credit: Reviewed / Amy Roberts

This Fitbit gives a buzz when it's time to stand up.

Even if you don’t want to work out, it’s important to remember to not just sit all day. One easy way to do this is with a fitness tracker, like our favorite, the Fitbit Charge 4, which gives you a quick buzz when you’ve been sitting too long to prompt you to move around. (For a low-rent version, simply set the timer on your phone for 50 minutes and get up when it goes off.)

And now that long-term remote working is likely inevitable for many people, you may want to consider investing in a standing desk. We love the iMoVr Lander Desk, which is easy to assemble (as in, no screws are required to build it), and its intuitive lift controller switches it seamlessly from sitting to standing and vice versa. The iMoVr also has a timer function that allows you to set reminders to get on your feet.

6. Upgrade your at-home fitness game

mirror
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

If you want to upgrade your home workouts, the Mirror is a great option.


There’s never been a better time to get the boutique workout experience in the comfort of your own home.

The Peloton, a stationary bike with a cult following that allows you to plug into live classes, is a great option for anyone who likes spinning and being part of a community. The Mirror is a stylish reflective screen that streams live and pre-recorded bodyweight workout classes and is best for someone who loves cardio (and might be missing their Zumba classes right about now). Tonal—a screen-and-home gym hybrid with AI-powered weights to up your strength training from your living room—is good for someone whose main goal is to build or maintain muscle.

Also worthy of consideration? A treadmill. If you've been waiting to pull the trigger on installing the ol' hamster wheel in your own home, well, there's no time like the present. You have a lot of great options when it comes to treadmills, so as long as you get one that has a sturdy, supportive deck and a good warranty, you'll be happy with your investment.

7. Dress to impress (even if it's just for yourself)

workoutclothes
Credit: Outdoor Voices / Lululemon

Who knows? That new pair of leggings really could take your workout to the next level.

There's nothing wrong with needing a little sartorial motivation to exercise. Even if no one is there sweating with you, the power of something as simple as a new pair of bike shorts or leggings to make you feel ready to get moving can never be underestimated.

There's a wide range of favorite workout clothes retailers among staffers at Reviewed, from Nordstrom to Girlfriend Collective to Old Navy. Some standouts are Lululemon—e-commerce editor Courtney Campbell is a big fan of the brand's sporty Play Off The Pleats tennis skirt and Run Times Short—and Outdoor Voices. (I'm partial to the TechSweat Leggings.)

Whatever you end up getting, it may just power you through that trail run or HIIT workout—and, if you really want to make sure people see your look, just snap a selfie.

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