Sometimes, we just don’t want to get ourselves to the gym and would rather workout at home—that’s okay! There are many benefits of working out at home; you’re still getting the exercise you want, for one, and you can work at your own pace, on your own time and not have to suit up to get out the door in a hurry.
Here we’ve given you some greats reasons why you’ll benefit from working out at home—and ways to help make the home-workout plan a success:
Do It In Front of a Mirror
We all have blind spots when it comes to ourselves. This is especially true when it comes to our bodies. We perform movements subconsciously and repetitiously. Our emotions and gestures become second nature to us, to the point where we are sometimes not even aware of what we do. We may not know that we hold our head slightly cocked to the left, or that our knees collapse in toward one another when we squat.
You can be your own best teacher, just by looking at your own body and observing what it looks like when it moves. You may think you’re not equipped because you haven’t had any training in how to teach exercise, or perhaps you don’t know anatomy. We all have an intuitive sense though of what healthy mechanics look like, even if we can’t explain exactly why. As you’re working out, if something doesn’t look quite right, it’s probably not. Allow yourself to see that, and then feel what’s really a fit in your body, too. That’ll improve all the exercises you do.
Alignment, Alignment, Alignment
Make staying aligned your top priority. Do this, even it if means you can’t move as much or with quite as big of motions as you might like. Sacrificing alignment means strengthening from an imbalanced state and increasing your risk of injury. If you get hurt working out, you may have to stop and you may potentially lose your momentum in getting fit and healthy. Building strength takes time, so don’t worry if it feels like you can barely move when you’re staying aligned. The more you can increase your range of motion, the more powerful you will ultimately become.
Alignment of the body basically means retaining symmetry and healthy joint function. Sometimes "finding your center" or "using your core" can be elusive. There are imbalances brought about by living our modern lifestyle, and because of our varying body types, so what some of us do to find and use that center might throw us off balance in other areas.
To get into proper alignment, start with your feet. Imagine two parallel lines about eight inches apart along the floor. (Better yet, put down some masking tape.) Line up your feet by placing the center of your heel directly over the line, and place the gap between your second and middle toe. Make sure your kneecaps line up over the line, too. Then imagine the back of your pelvis spreading wide, and your sit-bones lining up over the lines, connecting down to your heels. From the width in the back, visualize and try to feel a sense of gathering your belly in, and narrowing in the front of your pelvis.
Now try a mini-squat by starting to bend your knees. Make sure your kneecaps stay aligned directly over the line between your toes. Also imagine your tailbone staying relaxed and as if you really did have a long tail that hung down, let it reach down to the floor between your heels.
Finding and fixing upper body alignment is often all about breathing! Your chest and back should be equally wide, with your arms on the sides of your body. Standing in front of your mirror, turn sideways and observe the placement of your shoulder. On most people, their shoulders roll forward, towards the front of the body, giving a tight, compressed chest and an overly stretched posterior upper thoracic. Try taking a deep breath into your chest, letting your shoulder blades gently draw towards each other in the back.
Remember Your Feet
As a Pilates instructor, I recommend working out barefoot. Depending on the workout you have chosen, however, this isn’t always appropriate. We tend not to think of our feet, because we start stuffing them into shoes and lose connection with them at an early age. Unfortunately the way most shoes are designed, we sacrifice healthy movement of our ankle joint, our Achilles tendon gets shortened and loses range of motion, and our toes become numb and can start to be misshapen, arches flattened and loss of muscular tone in the feet. In building the muscles of your feet, you will notice a huge difference in the rest of your body! Your workouts will become more effective and your proprioception will increase. A tip for awakening these muscles is to wear footwear that spreads your toes. (There are socks, shoes, or even simple pedicure toe separators to start opening your feet.)
Make A Plan
Whether it’s buying a DVD, downloading an app, or following a list from a book, make sure you’ve got a plan in mind, and an idea of how much time you are going to spend exercising. Following someone else’s direction takes the pressure off in trying to come up with what you should do, and sometimes it gets you doing exercises that normally wouldn’t be your choice.
Schedule It, and Track Your Progress
Making time for your workout can be harder when you’re caught up in your routine. Putting it in your schedule, and sticking to it can build a positive habit for getting in your exercise, and also for life in general. It can be rewarding to look back at how many times you really have done that great workout, and reinforcing when you see the results in that big mirror. Even a small workout is better than none at all, but see if you can devote at least 30-45 minutes, two or three times a week.
Whether you workout at home, at the gym or even outdoors as the weather gets better, you’ll find your mood boosts, you’ll feel great and start to get the results you want when you incorporate exercise into your everyday routine. Get started today with your home workouts, if they’re the one for you, and put the tips into place for your optimal health, too! Happy exercising!