Missing The Gym? Here Are 10 Ways You Can Work Out During Lockdown

A few years ago I don’t think I’d ever think this but… damn I’m missing the gym. While it’s not up there with running, it is definitely something I enjoy doing on a weekly basis. And with the whole lockdown coronavirus crisis going to the gym seems like a distant memory (rightly so).

I’ve been trying to motivate myself into home workouts and it’s been going OK but nothing beats the gym to get you fully in the zone. However I hope this post might help spur you into action if you need it.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

During the pandemic, you might feel as though you’re missing the gym or doing your usual exercise classes with all of your friends. But don’t worry! There are so many ways that you can still workout whilst still maintaining social distancing and not breaking the government’s quarantine rules. No matter how much spare time you have or what equipment you own, you’ll easily be able to find an activity that suits you.

But if you don’t know where to start, this process could be daunting. To assist with this, here are 10 methods you can use to help you stay active. Complementing a healthy diet (whether you opt to use a range of diet shakes or change up what you eat), it will ensure you’re on the path to success!

Yoga

First up on the list is the tranquil and relaxing activity that is yoga. An activity that’s been around for over 5,000 years, yoga is a wonderful way to work out your body, whilst soothing and calming the mind. Particularly ideal during this time, you can learn yoga poses either through a virtual tutorial or by using a step-by-step guide.

There are so many physical benefits that come with yoga, including increased muscle flexibility and tone, improved cardio and circulatory health and enhanced athletic performance. An activity that anyone of all ages can do, you can safely do yoga in the comfort of your home – all you need is a yoga mat and an adequate space to do it in.

Skipping

Skipping isn’t just for children – it’s a high-intensity workout that can help you burn fat and promote weight loss. Of course, the number of calories that you lose will depend on the intensity of the workout and your weight initially. But if you aim for an accelerated 10-minute session, you could burn up to 110 calories – which will only go up with the longer that you do it for.

What’s great about this activity is that it only requires a skipping rope, some outdoor space and the motivation to keep it up!

Dance

If you’re looking for a unique way to work out, then maybe a dance session is more up your street. By dedicating 30 minutes each night to dancing you can lose hundreds of calories, tone muscles and increase your stamina – all whilst having some fun.

Plus, by doing a dance session, you’ll spend some of your energy, meaning that you’ll be able to sleep better each night. Whether you dance freestyle or use an online video, you’ll feel fabulous after dancing to your favourite music. You could also get your little ones involved – an extraordinary way of keeping them busy whilst expelling some of their energy!

Running 

You might think that you can’t go running during the lockdown. But as long as you only do this once a day and maintain social distancing, then there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a running session each day. Running is one of the best ways to lose some weight and exercise your body – plus it’s something that everyone, no matter what their age can enjoy.

With so much incredible scenery and countryside around this country, there’s ample opportunity to put on your running shoes and head out. It’s not just good for the body, however. Going out for a run is the ultimate opportunity to clear your mind and reset your batteries.

Walking

If running or jogging isn’t your forte, then perhaps head out on a long walk each day. Still a great way to exercise, walking long distances reduces the risk of heart disease, improves high blood pressure and strengthens the bones.

Incredibly important, especially during this time, it also gives you a chance to get away from the four walls of your house – even if it’s just for an hour or two. 

Virtual Aerobics

If you used to love going to your weekly aerobics class, then you’re probably missing it throughout lockdown. But don’t fret – there is a solution. There are now aerobics classes that you can enjoy virtually. Whether you’re a novice or you’ve been going to aerobics classes for years there is a free video online for you.

Alternatively, there are also subscription classes that you could join that would provide you with the right equipment and professional tutoring – for those looking for something a little more intense and less wallet-friendly.

Obstacle Courses

Ok, so this might sound a little crazy – but it’s an efficient and simple way of working out from the comfort of your own garden. By setting up an obstacle course with items that you have at home (for example, a hula hoop, slide and beanbag) you’ll be able to get some exercise in, without having to worry about working out with others around you.

It’s also something that your kids will love to do or your dog (if you have one) will undoubtedly take an interest in!

Hula Hooping

Yet again, you might be thinking that hula hooping is just a playground activity. But it can actually be an awesome way of working out. There are several key benefits of exercising with a hula hoop, including the fact that it:

  • Is a great ab exercise that keeps your core strong.
  • Can burn as much fat as a workout on a treadmill.
  • Strengthens your heart and back.
  • Increases endorphins.

Grab the Weights!

Whether you already have weights at home or you order some off the internet, it’s a fantastic way to work out. Although many people think that the main goal of weight lifting is to build muscle mass and bulk up so that you resemble something out of a competition, there are so many more benefits that people don’t realise.

These include boosting metabolism, strengthening bones, improving posture and maintaining weight loss. It’s also one of the easiest sports to do, as it only requires limited equipment.

Housework and Gardening

Ok, so you might be thinking – this isn’t a sport? But doing housework and gardening is a wonderful way to work out your body whilst being at home during the lockdown. For example, did you know that you can burn approximately 170 calories per hour by dusting and up to 190 calories by scrubbing? In terms of gardening, not only will you work out your body, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the fresh air. 

Although you might not be tempted to do the housework or gardening during this time as you won’t be having visitors around until the lockdown is lifted, it’s the perfect opportunity to do this. Not only will it keep you physically productive but will keep your brain active – plus it’s so much better than just sitting around and watching TV all day.

Final Thoughts

So, there you go! Those are 10 simple ways that you can work out during the lockdown. What exercise or activity you choose to do, of course, is up to you and what you prefer. But whichever you choose, it will ensure that you’re keeping active, maintaining a good level of exercise and assisting your wellbeing.

Just make sure, however, as aforementioned that whichever activity you do, this is done alongside maintaining a healthy diet – otherwise all of your exercise goes to waste the moment you start to eat unhealthily or increase the size of your portions – something that’s very easy to do at the moment with everyone having to remain inside!

Have you been doing any home workouts?

Do you miss the gym?

Keeping Fit Doesn’t Have To Include The Gym

Only a few days left before Christmas – so exciting!

I have a post for you today about keeping fit without having to use the gym. While I do love using the gym, it’s not essential. You can do so much at home or out and about as part of your normal day. Hope you enjoy the article…

When you are busy and on the go all the time, keeping fit isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It can feel as though everything is taking over, and you are letting your health and fitness get left behind, but this doesn’t have to be the case. A lot of people think that the secret to this is getting to the gym, but we are here to tell you that this doesn’t have to happen and you can stay fit from the comfort of your own home. Keep reading this article to find out how.

Watch What You’re Eating

The first thing that you have got to do if you want to keep fit is watch what you are eating. This is going to make up a huge portion of your health overall. Have you ever heard of the expression ‘you are what you eat’? While this may not literally be true, it will have a big impact on the way that you feel. For example, if you are constantly eating takeout, greasy food and processed fats, your body is going to show this in the form of oily skin, spot breakouts, and so much more. If you make the simple swaps and start adding fruit as well as vegetables to your meals, you are going to notice a big difference.

Try and make sure that a third of your meal is fruit or veg, and you will see a huge improvement. It’s not all about being active and moving around, though that is important! Take care of yourself by watching your diet, and you will achieve things that you didn’t think were possible.

Take Up Yoga

The next thing that we are going to suggest is that you take up yoga. Yoga is excellent for your fitness as it allows you to do things that you never thought possible with your body. Not only this though, but yoga is also excellent for your mind and will make you feel incredible when you are doing it. All you need to do is make sure that you get the right equipment such as yoga bolsters, to make it easier for you, and you are ready to go.

If you do this a couple of times per week, you will be getting the exercise that you need without going to the gym, and you will find yourself feeling a lot better than you have been in ages. Yoga is amazing for keeping to your fitness goals, try it and see for yourself.

Walk A Little More

Or, you could try walking a little more. This could be walking with music in your ears just for fun, or walking somewhere that you would usually drive if it is within a reasonable distance of course. Walking is great for keeping you fit and healthy, and doesn’t require you to do anything intense, which is always a bonus if this type of exercise is not for you!

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see how keeping fit doesn’t have to include the gym. Good luck, we hope you see the results that you are looking for.

Do you go to the gym?

Do you try and watch what you eat during Christmas? While I do like to keep somewhat healthy, I’m a big believer in enjoying this time of year. Don’t go mad and eat 17 mince pies every day, but equally don’t restrict yourself to the point of missing out and not enjoying the happy times.

Do you exercise over Christmas? I generally stay with my usual routine around Christmas as I enjoy it, and on Christmas Day I try and go to the Christmas parkrun as it’s just so festive and fun.

My knee and I

So what is going on then with my running, or lack thereof?

Well, as I said in previous posts, not a whole lot. I haven’t run properly since Chicago – six weeks ago. I’ve attempted to run to see how things feel, like an “up the road jobby” with Alfie or an attempt at parkrun.

The attempts to run were never with any real belief that I would be OK. My knee doesn’t feel right but I wanted an insight into what exactly felt wrong. Does that make sense?

I went to parkrun on Saturday in my running gear but with the very low expectation of finishing. I had my jacket on a nearby branch to fetch when (not if, but very much when) the discomfort would begin.

My knee hasn’t been right since the week before the Chicago marathon when it randomly became swollen the Monday after the Bournemouth Half Marathon, despite having felt nothing wrong with it at the time or after. Since the marathon it’s been very stiff and achy. It also has a rather disconcerting click from time to time.

Seeing my physio helped to a degree but ultimately it remained stubbornly the same. I had tape put on it to see if it was a tracking issue of my kneecap but it didn’t really improve things. I also took time off completely from leg exercises (such as squats and lunges) and cardio.

The stair machine and swimming weren’t really bothering it but I couldn’t say for absolute certain. I mean it felt OK when I did it and afterwards, but who knows really if it was just prolonging the issue? So I stopped. But again, there was no improvement.

So after the recommendation of a sports therapist, I booked an appointment with a knee consultant and went to see what he thought. I did this privately. While I have a huge amount of respect and love for the NHS, I realised I’m not really going to be seen very quickly due to the nature of this injury. It’s a very low level issue compared to what I imagine other people might be suffering who need to be seen more urgently. I acknowledge that I’m very privileged and grateful to be able to take this road and get seen so quickly.

So last week I had my appointment. The outcome of which I knew would be needing to have an MRI. There’s only so much that can be diagnosed from the outside, an MRI would (hopefully) clearly show what was wrong – or at least cross out a bunch of things. I had my MRI on Friday… and now I wait until Thursday for the results.

In the meantime I’ve still been going to the gym. I’m avoiding squats and lunges but I can still work on keeping my glutes strong with hip thrusts, kickbacks, resistance band work etc. As Kyle has now been coming to the gym too I’ve been able to work on my bench press and get to a new PB of 34kg for 5 reps. I’ve never had the confidence to really excel in this area because the fear of dropping the weight on my face has been STRONG.

I’ve added cardio back into my routine again in the form of the elliptical machine, which doesn’t cause my knee any issues. I’d like to do the stair machine but because there is so much knee flexion in it I’m worried it might be hurting it without me realising. So basically, I’m just tootling along for a bit with no running or major leg strength work.

I’m itching to find out what Thursday will bring with the results. Worst case is that I need surgery. My meniscus might be slightly torn (which would explain the disconcerting clicking). Or it could be something else. If it’s surgery I’ll deal with that as it comes.

My plan of action is…well, to get a plan of action. I want to know what I can do and what I shouldn’t do. If they tell me I can’t run for 6 months but I can do X and Y, then you better believe I will be doing that with the focus to come back stronger. I just need to have a goal and a focus. I want to run so badly but equally I know I need to sort this issue out.

I have days where I feel like crying and pounding my fists because it doesn’t seem fair. I work so hard in the gym. I’m not stupid with my training. I eat well and recover properly. Why can’t I run all the miles and marathons like everyone else? But I give myself a little shake (well, in reality Kyle and my parents talk me back to reason) and I focus on the good stuff. Because there’s a lot of that in my life thankfully.

Have you ever had surgery?

What do you do instead of running?

Everything I’ve learnt with my hamstring injury

I wanted to write a post about my hamstring tendinopathy experience.

This might be fully pre-empting things but I feel somewhat confident I can write this post and that I’m mostly out of the woods).

The affected area was the top of my hamstring, right below my bum cheek. It wasn’t sharp or stabbing pain, more like a throbbing, dull ache. At the beginning I could feel this while walking, while lying down and especially when sitting. Sometimes I would feel an ache in my lower back and down my hamstring.

Running made it feel uncomfortable so at first I avoided this to let it calm down. Though I saw a very good physio who I heartily recommend (South Physiotherapy), it didn’t really help. I had acupuncture, massages, ultrasound… I still felt the discomfort.

I wanted to write this post because during my hamstring tendinopathy injury I read a lot online which was very negative and without solutions. I realise the spirit of the Internal and forums for health issues is not like a diary whereby people write about their issues, solve them and then go back to update people. When you’re fixed, you don’t go back. You just carry on with life. But I wanted something to put out there that might be helpful to someone like me. I know I’d have found this helpful.

Here are some sources that were useful though and hugely helped my recovery –> this journal article and this blog post.

Obviously I’ll preface this saying that I’m not a physio, doctor, coach or any sort of professional who has more than half a brain. I’m merely explaining how I overcame my issue. Whether it’s the full-on correct way or if it’s just something that works for me, I don’t know. But if you can take away anything from this post (if you have this injury) is that there is hope!

Though there appears to be minimal research out there for hamstring tendionopathy, what the two sources above agree is having a three step approach. The first step is to let the hamstring settle a bit. You don’t want to be doing hardcore leg strength workouts and you should probably stop running, especially avoid any sort of speedwork or hills which will aggravate the hamstring directly.

The not running part I was really good at. I stopped running completely for seven weeks. In hindsight, I don’t believe I needed to take this much time off had I not aggravating things further with trying to do too much strengthening and rehab at the gym in the early stages. But I read too much online, got carried away and attacked my hamstring with all manners of strengthening, from hamstring curls, Swiss ball bridges, sledge pushes and glute kickbacks. All of which I felt directly in my top hamstring but believed this was it “working” only to find the next few days it was far more niggly and nothing was improving. I also tried to replace running with using the elliptical machine, but this aggravated things too.

What I should have done at the beginning was focused primarily on isometric exercises. These are when you hold your muscle tightly. Nothing moves, but you’re squeezing the muscle. We’re talking static bridge holds. Eventually once I got past my over-enthusiastic gym endeavours and took a step back and focused on the bridge hold, things got calmer. The niggle was still there, but now it wasn’t getting worse or bugging me all the time and the isometric exercises were providing relief.

So, stage one: only do isometric exercises for the hamstring. The best example of this is literally the bridge hold (with a long lever base so it’s your hamstring working not your glute – so push your feet out further from your bum). Increase how long you can hold. Then when you’re solid with that, move to single leg and push the time on that. You can do this just lying on the floor, or you can do (as well as) putting your feet on a raised platform, like a coffee table.

Avoid at all costs: squats, lunges, glute kickbacks, hamstring curls (lying or sitting) and anything that makes the hamstring feel worse the next day. Tendons are a funny thing – it can take 24 hours before you realise you’ve screwed it up. Try and avoid long periods of sitting; get up and move around frequently. DO NOT STRETCH the hamstring. Don’t be tempted. It won’t feel better, it’ll aggravate it. It is literally the worst thing you can do to it.

Stage two is now where you can do a bit more. I found using the lying hamstring curl machine on the affected leg worked wonders. At first I aimed for high reps low weight but actually what really changed the game for me was low reps higher weight SLOWLY (heavy slow resistance).

What you should aim for is a weight that becomes challenging on the 8th rep. Aim for 8-10 reps. Don’t push through pain though! Pain is NOT a good thing. 3/10 discomfort is your marker. Your hamstring should feel tired afterwards but not painful at the time or later.

This is also when you can start to add a bit of running back in (again, no speedwork or hills though). It will still feel uncomfortable but if you have sharp pain, avoid and go back to stage 1. Mild discomfort that doesn’t get worse and that disappears after 24 hours is OK.

During this stage I also focused a lot on improving my adductor strength. I wanted the surrounding muscles to be strong. I used the adductor machine at the gym (that awful machine that people a few years ago used thinking it would zap inner thigh fat). I also laid down, put a medicine ball between my knees and gently straightened my legs out, then drew them back to my chest while all the time SQUEEZING the ball. This is a killer for the adductors and the core.

I still avoided squats and lunges but ramped up my glute work with resistance band walking, clams and heavy hip thrusts. Basically I was gently rehabbing my hamstring while super-powering everything else.

Running was frustrating (for me and everyone around me who had to hear me moan). It was still uncomfortable. Having a physio “re-align” my hips helped unlock me and changing my trainers definitely helped but it was more of a case of being sensible with when I did the rehab and when I ran. And keeping things easy and short – building up gradually. And trusting the process.

So many times after a run I was lost in my negativity and ready to give it all up. I’m very lucky to have such a patient and loving network of support around me. Even my mum, who’s a big supporter of my running but in general doesn’t care for the details, would ask more questions after every run, worrying for me and wanting things to be better. Kyle of course was a pillar of strength for me during this time.

But gradually things got better. My hamstring would niggle less, become uncomfortable later and later during a run. Afterwards it would feel better. I remember when I ran eight miles and that night I felt my hamstring gently throbbing while I laid in bed and I worried and worried. The isometric exercises helped calm things down and acted as a good pain relief. And taking bigger gaps between each run helped. Then long runs stopped bugging me during the night. My body was healing quicker as it adapted.

Stage three is adding back in things like squats and deadlifts. I’m not quite there yet. I think I could add them back in but with Chicago literally round the corner I want to avoid anything that aggrevates my hamstring.

Stage three is adding back in things like squats and deadlifts. I’m not quite there yet. I think I could add them back in but with Chicago literally round the corner I want to avoid anything that aggravates my hamstring. I’ve ramped my long runs up (two 15 milers under my belt) and feel confident I’m heading in the right direction and not putting my hamstring at risk of regression. Obviously 26.2 miles in a few weeks is really going to test things but my plan is to be sensible. Realistically I am terrified and worried of going back to square one. If this wasn’t Chicago I would have canned it.

Basically my advice for this injury is: it will take time to recover. There is no magic pill, no trainers, no massage technique, no amount of icing or medication, no stretching or foam roll battering that will make everything better.

Rest is also not best. During my injury I had friends and family, who were enduring my continual frustrations, saying I should stop everything I was doing. Stop going to the gym. While I will fully admit that there were a number of weeks I shouldn’t have gone quite as ham on the rehab as I did and should not have tried to replicate my running on the elliptical machine, rest would not have solved my issue either. This injury requires rehab which involves strengthening and monitoring. Gently getting into a position where you can actually build your hamstring back up without reaggravating things. It’s a delicate balance.

In terms of cross training, I found the stair machine to be the best thing. Cycling (including spin – which was horrendous for it), the rowing machine and the elliptical machine really didn’t work. But ultimately it’s the strengthening of the hamstring that is the way forward.

Sorry for such a waffle but I wanted to write down my findings for this. If this helps just one other person, then I’m happy.

Good luck!

A non-running update

So I haven’t been running for about two weeks.

It actually hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Of course I’ve missed it. I’ve missed my lunchtime runs with Kyle, my parkrunning at the weekend and the lovely long runs on a Saturday. It has been sad in that respect.

I had a hard week last week with my granddad not being very well. My parents dashed up to see him in North Wales, while I had to stay behind to look after all the dogs. It was hard only knowing what was happening through phone calls and WhatsApp but there wasn’t much else I could do sadly. He’s such a strong man (he’s on Strava regularly walking and cycling!) and very competitive and strong-willed, so it was upsetting to have things change so suddenly. But because he is so strong-willed I really hope that he can pull through and get back to a relative normal.

Running would have been a great way to kill off some tension and stress, but I had to remain sensible and not make the niggle worse. Instead I was rather over-sensitive and delicate through the week – tough for all those around me I’m sure!

But with regards to the niggle, I’d rather take a bit of time now rather than have that insidious injury cycle that I’ve known far too well in my time. Instead I went to the gym a couple of times after work and the weekend to use the elliptical machine while watching Roma on my phone (a slow, black and white foreign film. Very good but I’m glad I watched it in a place of limited distractions).

What is my niggle exactly? I’m not sure but I know I’ve had something similar before. I’m almost certain it’s to do with my hamstring which has always had a weakness and why I can no longer do heavy deadlifts, It causes my calf to become quite uncomfortable and stiff, and can even make my foot feel a bit off. It’s like a nerve thing rather than a muscle thing. It just takes time and TLC to calm it down, and luckily it pretty much has calmed down.

Kyle has been lovely and helped take my mind off of not being able to run. He even came to a gym class with my on Saturday. Normally I’d be missing parkrun and being a bit grumpy about that, but instead we had a lovely lie in until 10.30am! Though to be fair we had a very late night after watching Glass and then going to Red Dog Saloon for ribs and chicken wings.

We went to a midday circuits class. I love going to the circuits classes. Yes they are super hard and intense, but because you’re only doing one exercise for 50 seconds and then changing you can get through it. It’s so varied and there’s always a good atmosphere with the others in the class, I really do enjoy it.

It was Kyle’s first time going (and I won’t lie, probably his last!). Though he used to do a lot of strength training in the past with his brother, this was an entirely different kettle of fish. Without sounding awfully patronising, he did really well. But he was a little broken afterwards (and a day or so later too). It did make me feel somewhat good that I’ve conditioned myself to not find the classes ridiculously hard – I mean, I’d be pretty rubbish if I was destroyed after each class despite having gone for so many months now! Though I should probably look to challenge myself each class and push up the weights to make it harder…

So I’m going to attempt running today. My leg genuinely feels normal, so I’m feeling rather positive. But we will see. Fingers crossed.

How do you cope with not running?

Have you ever gotten your partner to run or do a workout with you?

What was the last film you went to the cinema to see?