PORTLAND—Jennifer Smithers of Portland, Oregon, used to belong to a gym, in pre-pandemic times. But, like millions of women in this country, she left the workforce due to COVID. She was unable to keep up with the essential deadlines at her job working as an art director for a novelty sock company while nursing her infant and facilitating online school for her kindergartner.
“It all became too much,” Smithers says via a Zoom phone interview, explaining why she canceled her Equinox membership. Her living room behind her is strewn with toys, books, a Peloton, a weight bench, a Pilates reformer, a couch, a TV, an ergonomic desk currently being used as a drying rack for cloth diapers, and various bands and weights. Pilates balls of several sizes litter the carpet and her infant is currently pinned under a yoga block.
“As much as I would have loved to keep the gym membership, it was pointless to keep throwing money away on something I wasn’t using. Even with the extra cleaning and safety precautions, I wouldn’t go because it’s just not worth it without the eucalyptus towels or the Juice Press.”
So, what’s a mother to do? Fortunately, in the age of COVID, many exercise companies have pivoted to include online subscriptions.
“I started with a Barre membership,” Smithers says, showing us her makeshift ballet barre, the back of the baby’s crib, “because it requires very little gear.” All she needs for a workout is several resistance bands, a special branded ball, a barre, and some light hand weights, which she purchased on Amazon when demand for home fitness equipment was at an all-time high.
Smithers didn’t stop at the barre, though. “Then, a friend convinced me to hop on the Peloton bandwagon. Okay, so maybe we’re not actually friends, but I follow her on Instagram.”
“I love it. So inspiring. It cost more than our mortgage for the bike and that first month, but then it’s just the monthly fee, so it’s worth it for all the workout access as long as I do at least 30 classes per month. And I can watch recorded classes and do them when I’m up early with the baby.” So far, Jennifer has taken three classes, but she remains optimistic the Peloton will soon pay for itself.
From there, however, the obsession spiraled, perhaps out of control. Smithers is now paying for 15 different at-home workout subscriptions ranging from Pilates to Jazzercise. Tomorrow, she’s signed up for one virtual HIIT class, a yoga Zoom, and a Zoomba (that’s Zoom Zumba), all of which she plans to attend with her camera and mic off, in case she needs to dip out partway through—whether it be because one of her children starts crying or because her muscles do.
“You know what they say—the best workout is the one you enjoy doing,” she explains. “So I’m gonna keep trying to find it.”
Smithers says she doesn’t ever see herself returning to Equinox because it “just isn’t worth the money.”
“It’s hard to justify the expense now that I can do everything right here in my living room,” she says.
“Better to spend money on things I really can’t get anywhere else, instead of throwing money at convenience,” she adds, while using her most recent HelloFresh shipment as a plyo box.
Image: Logan Weaver / Unsplash
Much like when the gym gets super crowded in January due to the assholes I affectionately refer to as “Resolutioners”, people are suddenly gaining a newfound interest in fitness in this quarantine. I get it, while I’m here eating my weight in salt and vinegar chips, you all have visions of emerging from lockdown with six-pack abs. However, since everyone and their mom now thinks they’re the next Jillian Michaels, workout equipment has gone the way of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. It is sold out everywhere. But fear not! You don’t have to jog up and down your hallway to meet your workout goals at home! I’ve done some research and found equipment that you can still purchase and have delivered to you. Congratulations on actually having a summer body this year instead of looking like a blobfish like me! Or we can just decide blobfish is the new sexy body type and all be happy doing nothing?
Me at the beach this summer:
Anyway, here’s workout equipment you can actually buy right now that doesn’t cost $3,000 on Amazon.
Tone Fitness Anti-Burst Stability Ball
A stability ball is one of those universal fitness items that you can do almost anything with. Plus, you could sub it as your desk chair when you work from home to engage your core and prevent back issues. You can do planks, abs, and any of these awesome ideas for a full body workout. Plus, it’s deflatable, so once we’re out of quarantine, you can deflate it and stash it for when you need it next without it taking up your entire apartment.
4-in-1 AB Wheel Roller Kit
This wheel roller kit includes four things and is super easy to store when the gym comes back and you’re not stuck at home. You can do all kinds of abs and pushup exercises with these, and then it also has a jump rope to get your cardio in. Although it might make your downstairs neighbor insane. If you’re not sure how to use a roller wheel, check out this video. You’ll have abs of steel in no time.
Everyday Essentials AB Trainer Abdominal Machine
The thing about crunches is that most people actually do them wrong. Since you can’t hire a trainer to perfect your abs routine, an ab trainer will help. Instead of swinging your body forward using other muscle groups, this super cheap piece of equipment forces you to engage only your abs to pull yourself up. That six-pack will appear in no time. Once I decide to start Postmates-ing salad instead of Dog Haus, it’s over for you hoes.
FILA Fitness Mat
Yoga mats are out of stock almost everywhere, or the price is jacked up to like a million dollars (for what? It’s literally a piece of foam), but this FILA one is functional and cheap. Even if you’re not doing yoga, a yoga mat is perfect for a ton of exercises and way more comfortable than the weird slanted floor in your apartment. I’m not sure why every apartment I’ve ever lived in is slightly crooked (seriously, is it just me?), but a little cushioning for your stretches and body weight workouts makes a big difference.
P90X Adjustable Weighted Jump Rope
A jump rope is a great way to get cardio without risking getting coronavirus at the overcrowded park. Although maybe do it in a community space in your apartment so your neighbors don’t attempt to assassinate you so they can get some peace and quiet. This jump rope even has a removable weight in each handle to up the resistance. Hey, maybe you can invent a dark jump rope song about coronavirus, like how Ring Around The Rosie is really about everyone dying from the plague! Too much?
FILA® 3-Pound Neoprene Hand Weight
You can use hand weights for a full body workout, plus these ones are both affordable ($7.99!) and in stock! They also have heavier versions. Use these weights for arms, abs, and pretty much anything else. Find some inspiration on YouTube with videos like these. Plus, using weights is a quiet activity that will not make your roommates or neighbors insane.
I’m totally kidding. This is apparently a Boxing Fight Ball on a headband. But like. Doesn’t this look like something else? Use it for exercise or for scary bedroom games, I guess.
What are your at home workout tips? How are you staying fit in quarantine? Or are you just saying f*ck it and that it’s Future You’s problem? Let me know in the comments!
Images: The Creative Exchange / Unsplash; Giphy; Walmart (4); Kohls (3)
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Sometimes, despite our very best intentions, we just can’t bring ourselves to go to the gym. It becomes especially hard in the winter when suddenly 50-degree weather feels warm (fake news) and the sky is a dismal gray until 4pm, when it’s pitch black. On a good day, I don’t want to go to the gym. But if I have to wade through dirty puddles of slush in the dead of night to get there, it’s absolutely not going to happen.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good workout in. I’m the type of person who has way too much energy if I don’t work out. When I got back to school after Thanksgiving, I was running down the halls singing Christmas carols at full volume because I had been cooped up on a plane all day. Case in point: I should’ve gone to the gym, but it was rainy and gross and I had just found out that I left the sunroof of my car open all Thanksgiving break and my car was filled with water. I’m such a responsible adult.
However, my friends are all gym whores so I was convinced to do some ~fun and quick~ workouts instead. I thought it was pretty stupid, especially because I was doing it in a sweater and UGGs (#athletic), but I’ve actually never felt so sore the next day. Guess all those bloggers are right when they say you can get a good workout at home in 15 minutes. We really can have it all! So I’ve rounded up a few workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home (but maybe put on some sneakers when you do these, unlike me).
My only qualification for giving these workouts is that I work out a lot and follow fitness bloggers on Instagram. But since that seems to be about the only qualification anyone needs to give fitness advice these days, you can obvs trust me.
This is especially fun if you do it with your friends. It’s nice because they can mock your form motivate you when you would rather die than continue planking. Pro tip: I always start with planking, because it sucks the most.
1 min plank: hopefully, you know what this is...
1 min side plank (30 secs on each side): ditto
50 crunches: To make sure your abs are doing the work (not your neck or your arms), try flexing your abs.
1 min of leg raises: Lay on your back, lift your shoulders slightly off the ground, and lift your legs.
1 min of Russian twists: Grab something heavy to hold as you twist side to side (I won’t judge you if it’s a Smirnoff bottle).
1 min of burpee + push-ups: Jump up, squat, do a push-up, repeat.
Repeat the circuit three times, or until you are tired and/or bored. Take breaks between each set to check Instagram catch your breath. This should last about 20 minutes in total.
Lower Body Workout
These exercises are good for your toning your butt and legs.
15 squats: Try to watch your form in the mirror. Sometimes I do these while brushing my teeth to entertain myself. Make sure that your knees don’t go over your feet and your back stays straight.
3 min of inner-thigh toning: If you have one of those yoga blocks, that would be helpful here. You can also just roll up a towel. Stand up, and put the block or towel between your legs. Then, tense your inner thighs around it. Go on your tippy-toes, and then back down. At first, it feels boring, but you’ll really hurt after a minute or so. Trust me on this.
1 min of lunges: Grab something heavy to maximize the workout—weights are ideal if you have them in your room, but a heavy book would work too.
2 min of butt raises: Lie on your back with your knees bent (the bridge position), then raise your butt and tense it. Hold for 15 seconds, then relax and collapse back onto the floor.
2 min of squat-kick combo: Do a squat, then side shuffle to one side, kick one leg out, side shuffle back to the center, squat, repeat on the other side.
Repeat twice for about a 20-minute workout.
You don’t need a treadmill to get some cardio in. Literally just do these exercises and you’ll get your heart rate going.
1 min of jumping jacks
1 min of pulsing lunges: Pulse for 15 secs, then switch legs
1 min of burpees
1 min of high knees: Just like you’d do in middle school gym class!
1 min of push-ups
2 min of sprinting up and down the hallway: If you have neighbors who won’t report you to your landlord.
Repeat four times for a 20-minute workout, or more if you want it to be longer. For a nice full workout, I’d recommend picking two or three of these so you can really make your entire body feel like it was run over by a truck the next day.
If all of this still seems confusing, I’d recommend downloading a fitness app. My favorite is 8-Fit because they have lots of different 10-15 minute workouts you can do anywhere without needing any equipment. You can download this app for free (though, of course, they’re going to try to convince you to spend more money on a meal plan that’s totally unnecessary). Each move comes with a video demonstrating it. They also play music the entire time so it’s #hype. There are also different levels so if you’re only comfortable doing the bare minimum instead of being a hardo, they got you. Or you could check out this list of fitness apps worth downloading here.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (5)