With gyms closed in not only Alexandria, but all across the state, many are wondering how to fit their normal fitness regimens into their daily lives. Gyms and physical therapists provide four important functions to staying fit: classes, equipment, community, and routine. Without these components, it can be hard for people to feel motivated or even able to work out.
But worry not! Many gyms, physical therapists, athletic stores, or yoga studios are offering services remotely online.
Balanced Yoga is one example of a studio offering options online. They are offering classes on their YouTube channel throughout the quarantine to help you relax and stay in shape. Whether you can spend eight minutes or an hour, Balanced Yoga has options for you to help you stay limber and manage stress during this tough time. Owner Ingrid Aardahl highly recommends the “Healthy Backs Level 1” and “Yoga for Neck and Shoulders” classes. If you are just getting started, she also recommends the spine and psoas stretches - it's only eight minutes and does a great job stretching the muscles that get tight from sitting for a long time.
If you would like to see something specific, email email@example.com and they'll make a video for you!
Club Pilates is another studio offering online options. Right now, you can enroll in virtual classes through their “Virtual Class Package”. If you are interested, visit www.clubpilates.com/location/alexandria for more information.
For those of you looking for physical therapy, Resurgent Sports Rehab has online options for you in the form of telehealth sessions. As Resurgent Sports CEO Dr. Kerri Kramer Webb says, “We've been performing telehealth sessions for most of our current clients and have received great feedback regarding the value of our video sessions."
Visit www.resurgentsports.com to learn more about telehealth sessions with Resurgent Sports Rehab.
Apart from providing classes and instruction, the next function that a gym provides is the equipment that many individuals may not have at their home. While some local gyms in the community are helping to remedy this situation, the reality is that most of us simply will not have access to the same equipment that we normally do.
Once again, Balanced Yoga can help. Balanced Yoga is delivering yoga gear to anyone who needs mats, blocks, straps and lacrosse balls. Check out their online store for a quality yoga mat that will help you feel supported in every class. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange delivery.
Potomac River Running is another local company delivering athletic equipment and apparel to you! With services like virtual shoe fittings, an online store, and over-the-phone service, they are sure to help with all your fitness product needs. Visit www.potomacriverrunning.com for more information.
Of course, it is one thing to purchase small equipment and another to get larger equipment. But even if you are looking for larger equipment or items that you cannot easily purchase, that does not mean you are out of luck. It simply means you need to modify your workouts.
My day job for nearly five years has been in the fitness retail world. Working at a small athletic store leading up to the first few days when businesses around the country began to close, I saw a big rush of customers coming into the store to say, “My gym just closed, but I still need to work out. What do I do?”
If cardio is your thing, my first suggestion is to run outside. If you are traditionally a treadmill runner, this transition should be fairly straightforward from a biomechanical standpoint. Your muscles are already accustomed to the running movements and your joints are already accustomed to the impact from running. If you are traditionally a stationary bike or elliptical user, then my suggestion is to start slow and ease into it. Don’t go at the same level as you would on the machine, as your body will need some time to adjust to the movements and the increased impact level.
As of now, running outside is still permitted as part of the Governor’s stay-at-home order for Virginia. For those not accustomed to running outside, keep in mind a few things. First, stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. While many people enjoy running with music or headphones, I do not recommend it. Running outside requires constant awareness of your surroundings, from which music and headphones can often distract.
I would also advise against running in groups until the coronavirus crisis is over. If you need company to keep you motivated, maybe run with one other person you live with, but try to keep at least six feet apart from other people. Most trails in the area like Mount Vernon, Four Mile Run, or the WO&D trail tend to be about six feet wide anyway.
If the weight room is more your thing, that becomes a bit trickier. Obviously, this is where having the right equipment comes in handy. But once again, that does not mean you are out of luck. Rather, it means you may have to change your workout instead of cutting it altogether.
Pushups, planks, sit-ups, or Russian twists are extremely beneficial strength-building exercises that require no equipment whatsoever. Looking to add some extra weight to any of these exercises? Try adding heavier objects to your back as you do your pushups or planks, or hold a heavy object in your hands as you sit-up or do twists. This could mean filling a backpack with textbooks or other heavy items. In one example, I saw a friend of mine put a trash bag full of books on his back in order to provide some extra resistance while he did a straight plank. Feel free to get creative with it!
Some people may have access to a horizontal bar or beam that can be used for pullups. If you have access to a pullup bar, pullups are a fantastic upper-body exercise. Looking to add some more resistance to pullups? Try tying a something heavy to your waist, ankles, or feet. That can be as creative as attaching a carton of cat litter to your waist or wearing weights on your ankles (a regular carton of cat litter is about 20lbs by the way).
For many people, adapting exercises to be equipment-free still might not be enough. Many people still need the community aspect that comes from gyms in order to keep them going. For that, use what you have in order to create your own community.
Since being relegated to our own home gyms, a friend of mine and I have been giving each other weekly challenges and updated one another on our progress. This is a great way to keep yourself and others motivated and to keep yourself accountable. It’s as simple as texting a friend and saying, “Hey man, let’s do 500 pushups this week.”
Which brings me to another point; you should have a goal. Without a goal, there is no direction. Instead of saying to yourself or to your friend, “I want to start doing pushups,” give yourself a specific target; “I will do 500 pushups this week.” Without that guidance, it won’t get done. Instead of asking yourself if you can do more, say this is what you will do and find a way to get it done.
I wrote a story last month for another publication about two local runners who ran a marathon entirely on their own. There was no race, no time, no crowds, no spectators. But they did it anyway because it was a goal that they had set for themselves. Obviously, most of us are not going to be able to go out and run a marathon. This is admittedly an extreme example. But regardless, this is a great example of people setting a fitness goal, committing to it, and seeing it through.
Texting friends your fitness goals, posting in Facebook groups or on Twitter; these are great ways to stay connected to your community and keep both yourself and others motivated.
The final hurdle is how to fit this all into your daily routine. For many, the gym is a place to go before or after work. Many have their designated time of day they make “gym time”. Without that scheduled time, it can be hard to fit it into your day, especially for those with kids working from home.
That is where breaking up a workout can be a solution. Since you are no longer going to a physical gym, the need no longer exists to fit all your workouts into a designated block of time. If it normally takes you 30 minutes to do your workout at the gym, why not break it up into six five-minute workouts, or four seven-minute workouts throughout the day?
For example, if you normally do four sets of a workout, do one set four times throughout the day. In this way, you can fit it into your schedule when the time arises. Do a set before breakfast, another before lunch, another before dinner, and another before you go to bed. Before you know it, you’ve just done your full workout, but you’ve spread it out throughout the day.
All in all, switching over to a now all-home-gym workout is going to be an adjustment for everyone. No regular gym-goer is going to be able to simulate their regular gym experience at home. But with some exercise adaptations, with some goal setting with friends, family, or maybe just yourself, and an adjustment to your schedule, you can stay fit and stay healthy without the gym.
Story by Andrew Gates, VIP Alexandria Magazine | As seen in the May 2020 Issue of VIP Alexandria Magazine