Growing up, I thought I hated exercise, mostly because exercise in my mind meant gym class. And gym class usually meant team sports. I was always pretty good at the things we did in gym, I just never really enjoyed them. It wasn’t until high school and then college that I realized that I LOVE exercise, I just don’t love team sports. Go figure.
I love going to a yoga class, or dancing, or going on long walks, etc., but try as I may, I cannot seem to make a gym membership work for us at this point. Neither of my children can make it past the gym’s 10-minute crying policy (even after months of trying), and if I wait until Michael is home from work, we’re in the dinner and bedtime crunch and I can’t seem to fall asleep at a decent hour if I exercise after 7pm. Knowing my kids will be up by 6am means that if I want to exercise, I need to convince everyone to exercise with me (only sometimes successfully) or get up before 6 to get a workout in. Oy.
For the last many months (and the better part of the last 4.5 years), I’ve been doing at-home workouts. Some are longer, some are shorter, but I thought I’d share the best of our at-home workouts and fitness faves. Nothing too expensive or time consuming here, and all are things I’ve tried, tested, and come back to time and again.
1. My Fitbit Flex. I’ve had a few different fitness trackers over the years, but I really like this one. It helps track your sleep and you can sync it with your phone and other apps (like My Fitness Pal) if you’re also monitoring your nutrition. This one is $80-100 depending on when you buy and what sales are going on. It’s been worth every penny for me so far.
2. Foam Roller. If you struggle with tight leg muscles or tightness in your hips, I really recommend getting a foam roller. There are lots of stretches you can use to alleviate tension (it cleared up IT band issues I had last year), but you can also use it to exercise your abs! I have the 18″ foam roller and it works like a charm. (More about why I love a foam roller here)
3. A GOOD WATER BOTTLE
I’m a big water fan and I’ve found I do much better getting in plenty of water when the water tastes good. Rather than buy endless plastic water bottles, I’ve been using these Brita water bottles with built-in filters that can make water coming from the tap, a drinking fountain, etc. taste great. The Brita Sport Bottle is flexible and great for taking to the gym, on a run, or to hook onto the handle of a bike. The Brita Hard Sided WaterBottle is great for putting on the counter to remind you to keep taking a drink all day long.
If your water tastes good enough or you already have a built-in filter at your house, I love my plain old Contigo Shake and Go that has markers on the side to help you keep track of how much water you’ve had. It also comes with a little shaker ball you can put in if you’re adding flavorings or powders to your water. I love putting a few lemon slices in my bottle, but you can also use it for mixing up shakes or adding supplements to your drink if that’s your thing.
4. A GOOD YOGA MAT
Michael and I each have a Gaiam 5mm Yoga Mats. They’re the 5mm (extra thick) kind, so they stand up to lots of use for stretching and yoga. They’re also great for doing push-ups, planks, or crunches during other workouts. Plus, a fun happy color is always a great perk during a workout.
(p.s. our kids actually love using these too for Cosmic Kids Yoga)
1. 30 Day Core Workout for Moms. I’ve sung the praises of Lindsay Brin before, but her 30-Day core workout was GOOD. And hard. It’s not for bare-bones beginners, but it’s a really good one if you really want to work hard without working a long time.
(For beginners or if you have diastasic recti, see my suggestions here.)
2. 7- Minute Workout App. This is my go-to workout on busy days. I did a full review here. The workout is literally 7 minutes long, though you can do as many rounds as you like if you’ve got more time or need more challenge. I do 1-2 rounds of this several times a week and my planks and push-ups have really improved over the last year. At less than $3, it’s cheaper than any workout DVD and you can take it anywhere with you on your phone or tablet without using data. Find it on iTunes or Google Play
3. Tracy Anderson 8- Minute Arm Workout. This is an excerpt from one of her Mat WorkoutDVD, but it’s HARD. I always feel really ridiculous when I do Tracy Anderson workouts because the movements are so strange and awkward. This one is still a little awkward, but I have NEVER worked my arms out harder. And you might think to yourself “what’s 8 minutes?” but you try it and then talk to me.
(Note: you can find the 8 minute arm workout on YouTube if you don’t want to buy the DVD or check it out from the library)
4. Pilates Conditioning for Weight Loss.This was the first exercise DVD I ever did (back in high school) and I still pull it out regularly. Suzanne Deason is the instructor and the whole thing is very energizing and calm. It’s a great intro Pilates DVD if you’re a beginner, but there are 3 levels of difficulty shown on the screen at the same time, so you can easily expand your poses as you gain capability. It’s about 45 minutes long and it’s a good mix of core work, flexibility, and strength.
This is an intense hour-long workout that will definitely have you breathing hard. I checked it out from the library many times before deciding to get my own copy. It’s great for strength, endurance, flexibility, etc. Also, I love Bob Harper. There, I said it. He makes you work hard without shouting at you. I can’t help it.
This is my #1 yoga recommendation if you’re new to yoga, short on time, or doing it with your husband. Michael had never really done any yoga at all and had virtually NO flexibility, but this was a fantastic DVD for getting started. There are 5 different workouts, and none of them is very long. If you’re pretty stiff or just getting back into things, you may benefit from having a yoga block to help you, but it’s not strictly necessary.
What are YOUR favorite at-home workouts?
I’m always looking for inspiration. Shout them out in the comments and shop the widget below for my favorite picks!