Friday, 21 September 2012

At-Home Workouts

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Photo by ~ggvic~
After my last post on healthy gift ideas, I decided to ask for a gym membership starting in October and for a few bucks for Dawson's climbing wall. While I wait for my gym membership to start, I've been working on getting my free workouts. 

Today, I got some walking and biking in as I publicized my autumn dance class around Montreal. I've also been getting my swimming on at the NDG sports complex (Oh, NDG how I love you!). I tried the rock-climbing and will definitely be going back. Aside from that, I've been keeping fit at home. With minimal equipment, you can definitely get sweating. Here are a few tips to get it on.
  
1. Do the chores.  
If you're looking to use up a little energy during your day, then household chores can actually be your friend.  Raking leaves, cutting grass (particularly with a rotary mower), or gardening, can all be good ways to get you moving. Washing windows, scrubbing, and mopping,  kneading dough, stirring a tough batter, or doing some of those put-off home repairs can also use a little elbow grease in your day. If you've got to walk stairs to get the job done, that'll help even more to put physical activity in your day.


2. Hang out at the counter .
A kitchen counter or table can be a great tool for getting in shape, and not just for watching what you eat. You can use the height to make pushups a little easier, stretch your hamstrings or do back stretches. If its a sturdy table, you can also use it to do bodyweight rows which are great for strengthening the back and biceps.


3. Use your computer .
While normally we might spend a great deal of time sitting when we're in front of the thing, it can also be quite useful in getting us moving. You can find a great dancing playlist and get your groove on or find a video to try out a few moves.  There are many workout videos and exercise ideas on the web, just remember to make sure that they are right for you.


4. Resist!
Resistance bands have to be one of the most versatile pieces of home equipment. It's light and easy to carry if you're traveling. You basically need the elastic band and something to resist your force on the band. 

Photo by Joseph A Ferris III
For example, if you wanted to do a bicep curl, you might put one end of the band under your foot and the other in your hand, then curl. (The band in the video has handles, but that that's not necessary.)  To increase the resistance, shorten the length of the band or double it over.  If you can do the exercise with free weights, chances are you can do something similar with the band.  If you have an exercise in mind, check out google, there's sure to be a variation out there. 


5. Join the yogis. 
Next to the elastic band, a yoga mat is one of the least expensive and versatile pieces of workout equipment you can acquire. I like it because not only is it good for yoga, but it provides a cushion for general stretches and exercises.This is particularly useful, if you want to do exercises which are done on the knees, like modified planks or kneeling supermans. It's also a nice little barrier if you aren't so inclined to sweep up dirty floors :P. 


6. Play ball. 
I love sitting on swiss balls. As I mentioned in my post on making a desk job a little healthier, I find them much more comfortable than most office chairs. However, these guys are not just good for that. I like to do planks on them to give my core a nice workout and build stability. 

I also use them to do modified pushups. You just position yourself so that your your abdomen is on the ball and do your pushup from there. As you get stronger, move the ball farther back on your body, thus giving more of the weight for you to lift and less for the ball to support. (I was taught this trick by a wonderful volunteer at the YMCA. Thanks Scheherazade!). 

In general you can use them to decrease stability in many exercises, thus working your core more, thus increasing your stability, thus increasing awesomeness :).

Photo by S. Yodo

7. Don't forget the little things.
Skipping ropes, hula hoops, skip-its, kids toys (and kids for that matter) can also be great for getting in some exercise. If you've got them around, play!


Hope this offered a few helpful tips for keeping it fit at home.

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Live well, Charlotte
P.S. Working out at home is great, but sometimes it's nice to have a community moving together. This fall, I'll be leading a dance class at the Westhaven Community Centre in NDG, Montreal. Women, come out and Groove with us. There are free trials and drop-in rates available. Registration is open now.
 

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