2022 started off with more than a whimper than a bang, with Xi’an’s 13 million residents on lockdown until nearly the end of January. Even though those times are, for the moment, behind us, many gyms and health clubs are still closed as of this writing. So with your typical avenue for fitness being unreliable, what is one to do? Common wisdom would state that you should head out for a run or get outside to do some exercises at your local outdoor fitness park, but as we have seen some times that too becomes unavailable. That leaves one surefire way to keep with your fitness goals without ever leaving your home. We speak of course of the Great Indoors.
While the likelihood that you have the space for a complete home gym is unlikely, there are still plenty of ways to get your reps in without having to sacrifice much money. Some of the options are even free. So let’s run down just a few of the ways that you can stay or get fit from the comfort of your own home.
Bodyweight Exercises for Strength Conditioning
Body weight exercises are somewhat underrated, as they are not quite as impressive looking as their weighted counterparts, but they have been the go-to method for at home strength training for as people have been training to get fit.
Classic exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups are easy ones to get started with and there are innumerable variations to make them either more or less challenging, depending on your skill level. You can also incorporate air squats, chair dips, and other exercises that target different muscle groups so that you get whole body workouts.
The number of each exercise that you should do will vary depending on your individual fitness and health goals, and there are resources online that can let you know roughly how many a fit person of your age bracket should be able to do. If you are still unsure about what to do, there are numerous “follow along” bodyweight workout videos across the internet, which usually involve a lot of yelling from the trainer.
Whichever you choose to do, even when doing resistance training, you should work up a sweat and increase your heart rate. Be careful of your surrounding environment when setting up and move any objects which might interfere with your workout. Try to use a yoga mat, carpet, or similar soft surface to increase your traction and decrease the likelihood of slipping. Be extra cautious with single leg exercises, even if you think your balance is on point.
Cardio Videos Galore
In the wake of the initial outbreak of the pandemic, many trainers found themselves without the regular client base that was their lifeblood, and thus turned to online training to fill in the gaps. What this means is that there have never been more options for you when it comes to training, especially when it comes to cardio.
Cardio classes can range from the high-energy jazzercise style exercises popular during the 90s, to more modern classes focused around high-energy dancing, and everything in between. There really is a style for everyone out there. If you’re looking for something more focused, you can also use apps, like 7 Minute Workout, that are targeted at quick workouts to boost you throughout the day.
Also, if your Chinese is halfway decent, you can find similar videos on your cable box, or through other Chinese social media sites, such as WeChat, Tiktok, and other similar apps. Though be careful, not all of them are necessarily safe to do.
Yoga – The Original at Home Workout
Yoga is a tradition stretching back thousands of years, and at its very basic requires little to no equipment, and is accessible at all levels of fitness. It is especially good for those that need a low impact workout, either due to bad joints or other physical limitations. What’s more, through the stretching and poses you can start to rectify some of the problems that arise from the excessive sitting that is omnipresent in modern lifestyles.
Getting started with yoga is as simple as finding some flexible clothing and a spot on the floor, though your comfort will be infinitely increased if you spring for a foam yoga mat or other exercise pad. Tutorials for yoga are numerous on every online video site, though if you’re new to the practice, then you might want to search instead for ‘beginner yoga’, as some of the routines involve more pretzel bending than most people are ready for at the beginning.
As with all of these, take it at a slow pace at first and don’t overexert yourself, despite any enthusiasm, as injuries are more common than most people talk about.
If You Want to Spring for Equipment…
If you like to have some kit or other items that can help you with your fitness journey at home, then there are plenty of options for you online. In fact, there are probably too many options, making it difficult to choose exactly what you’re looking for. If you want some recommendations, consider the following:
A Yoga Mat/Exercise Mat
These long strips of foam rubber come in a variety of colors and textures, but in the end, what you really need is something that will cushion you against the ground and will give you traction for your feet so that you don’t slip and hurt yourself. Bonus points if it doesn’t stink like rubber, but if it does, you can air it out near a window for a few days until the smell dissipates. Also, clean the sweat off occasionally. Those things can get nasty.
Kettlebells may seem like a new thing, but they are actually quite old, having been recently re-popularized by the Crossfit movement. Essentially, a kettlebell is a ball of weight with a handle over its center of mass. This makes it good for several exercises, such as the kettlebell swing, that can give you a whole body workout really quickly. Choose a weight that you can easily handle at first, going for more repetitions over more weight. Also, keep your grip tight, as you don’t want to put a hole in your wall.
Resistance bands are basically giant rubber band that can add resistance (get it?) to bodyweight and weighted exercises. They can also be used to assist for you in things like pull ups and other exercises by helping to lift you up. Resistance bands come with different weight resistances to them, usually from 5kg up to 90kg in some cases, so you can choose the weight that is appropriate for you. If you choose to do exercises that require you to tie your band to something, make sure it is secure or you might get injured.
We hope that this has inspired you to get a bit more fitness out of your home life, regardless of circumstances. Remember to take things easy, stay hydrated, and go at your own pace for a better, healthier life in Xi’an.