By Aylon Pesso, professional fitness trainer
Make fitness easy for yourself
You can exercise without a gym
The number one reason people have for not exercising regularly is because they simply don’t have enough time. Too many people think the benefits of fitness is simply not worth the time and effort it takes. 1
There’s all of the time it takes to change into workout clothes, commute to the gym, get in an hour’s worth of exercise, take the trip back home, shower, and change back into regular human clothes and then try to have energy left to enjoy the rest of the day. Just reading that makes me exhausted.
But what if you didn’t need to go through that whole process just to get in some exercise? Fitness would be so much easier if you could just get a quick and simple workout no matter where you are, or how little time or energy you have. You’d be able to workout more consistently, and not dread the whole process that traditionally goes into going to the gym.
The solution here is creating an anywhere, anytime exercise routine that you can do in less than 15 minutes in your home, at work, outside, or at a gym if you’d like.
Lifestyle Design expert and bestselling author Tim Ferriss, calls this a Minimum Effective Dose workout. “Don’t spend countless hours doing ineffective cardio,” Ferriss says, “when just eighty-second spurts (timed right before and ninety minutes after meals) will do the trick for weight loss.” 2
Simple ways to improve your fitness
Work out anywhere
The type of workout Tim Ferriss recommends is in the style of HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, which is designed just for this. It’s all about quick and effective short bursts of effort that make a huge difference, that you can do anywhere with little to no equipment.
But there is a bit of a learning curve: you need to learn what workouts and exercises actually work towards your goals. Luckily, there are a bunch of great resources for learning some new moves. These are either free, or at least much more affordable than a gym membership, saving you time and money along the way.
There are a lot of really wonderful app solutions out there than can help you put together some workouts that you can do at home or at the gym. One is called Keelo which works on any Apple iOS device, including the Apple Watch for ultimate ease of use. Aaptive (https://www.aaptiv.com/) is another system that offers audio based workouts, so you don’t have to keep looking down at your phone throughout the workout.
For something a little more personal and human, there are programs put together by trainers that you can use to build your workout repertoire. Kayla Itsines has become world famous for her body weight workout programs, in easy to use PDFs and her new App. If none of these are up your alley, a simple google search for HIIT workouts will also give you thousands of other resources so you can find the best on that fits your life.
Now that you’ve been armed with a source of ever expanding arsenal of exercises, you have freedom and control over your workouts. You can go for a walk and take a quick pitstop in a park to get a circuit or interval session with something as simple as a jump rope. While you wait for your flight in an airport you can find a spot and bang out a solid workout. Or you can just do some bicep curls while you’re carrying your groceries home.
Work out At Home
Your home is the perfect place to exercise. You don’t have to pay additional fees, you’re supremely comfortable, and you’re already there so no time is wasted on a commute. You can use any of the HIIT workouts and systems we already mentioned, but the benefit of working out at home is that you can make some small investments into some pretty cool tools to get even more out of your workouts.
The most basic piece of exercise equipment is a mat. Considered essential for floorwork exercises like planks, pushups, lunges, and core work, mats are great tools. If you’re looking for cushioning to help protect the joints from too much pressure, go for a thicker pilates style mat. If you want some padding, but are looking for a little extra grippiness, stick with a standard yoga mat. Exercise Bands also come in supremely handy, letting you have any resistance level you want, without filling your home with equipment.
But if you’re looking to get a little bit more out of your home fitness, there are a bunch of really interesting tools out there to upgrade your workouts and make you really not miss going to the gym. An amazing piece of equipment that has been making it’s way around the gym scene lately is the TRX suspension trainer. Luckily, it’s super easy to set up in your home, and super versatile for total body workouts for people of all levels. You can use it to regress moves like squats and lunges to make them more accessible, or to hit parts of the body that would be otherwise extremely difficult to reach without any equipment like the hamstrings. It’s a little bit more of an investment, but it’s incredibly worth it.
If you want more of a gym feel, you can take the route of getting the home versions of more traditional gym equipment. There’s the doorframe Pull Up Bar and the rest of the Home Gym system, which lets you really build strength throughout the upper body. Hyperwear makes a huge line of sandbells and sandbags that let you get the benefits of free weights, without worrying about what happens when you might drop them in your home.
Be active at work
We end up spending most of our days (and lives) at work, so being able to fit in some light workouts there would be a blessing. Imagine, getting paid while you workout. Granted, you still have to get some work done, but there are ways to be a little bit more active at the office. Some of these may take a little finesse and definitely a conversation with your boss, so make some moves.
If you work at a desk, you’re probably sitting all day, which can do some serious damage if you don’t get up and move around pretty regularly. So first things first, get up! Try to stand and walk around once an hour to get your legs moving and working again. Taking a lap around the inside of the building to say hi to your coworkers is a great way to do it. If you need more of an excuse, go to the water fountain to fill up your waterbottle (I love Klean Kanteen’s Stainless Steel Wide Mouth), and then go to the bathroom more with all that water you’re drinking. 3
While you’re up, get your stretch on! There are a lot of stretches for your hips flexors and quads to combat all of that sitting, that you can do while standing, or even while you’re sitting at your desk. Pick a few and get to work. Lumo Lift is another tool to use while you’re sitting or standing, to help fix your posture. It’s a wearable sensor that can tell when you’re in a position that puts you out of alignment, and gives you a little tap as a reminder to correct yourself.
Now if you’ve had the talk with your boss, and they give you a little more freedom for some changes to your office equipment, there are some other things you can do to combat sitting all day. A Standing Desk opens up those hips, engages the muscles and tissues in the legs, and encourages you to get a little bit more movement throughout your day. A convertible one like the super affordable Autonomous SmartDesk 2 (https://www.autonomous.ai/smartdesk-sit-to-stand-height-adjustable-standing-desk), lets you easily move between sitting and standing as you need. 4 If you can’t change your desk, change your chair. Making the move to an inflatable exercise ball encourages micromovements throughout your day, engaging your core, and makes you hyper aware of how you’re sitting. While the research is pretty inconclusive, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of sitting on a ball. Mindfulness is key, and they’re nothing more mindful than being on an unstable surface. For something a little more inconspicuous and more of a workout, and Under Desk Elliptical from Cubii can let you rock out with your own little cardio session from the comfort of your chair. 5
Always Be Moving
You have the knowledge, you have some tools, now pick some that work for you and your life, and run with it. No matter what’s happening in your day, using these anywhere, anytime workout helps you get rid of any excuse you can come up with.