Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on equipment you can get in shape and improve strength at home. The problem is that it is easy to get bored or uninspired and start to miss days.
That’s where variety comes in. I use everything from jump ropes and hikes outdoors to indoor strength and yoga videos, and even salsa footwork to stay in shape. There are so many great video programs online I never get into a rut for long.
I work at home as a freelance writer most of the time, so I have to try to keep active throughout the day. I try to work out every day even if I only get in 20 minutes some days. And I have a stand and sit desk to keep me from spending too much time sitting on my butt each day.
Set up your homework area for standing if you can
I stand part of the time and sit at a tall drafting chair half the time for my work.
It is pretty easy to set up a standing desk without spending a lot of money and it can help you avoid overuse injuries by giving you greater variety throughout your workday.
I got my desk from Ikea for under 200 dollars. Just make sure you are working as safely and comfortably as possible if you work at home.
Variety is the key to staying interested in your home workout routines
The body needs new movement and new challenges every day. I try to mix up my workouts so that I am doing different types of movement every day to keep from getting bored or injured.
I Like to do yoga daily, but I also add cardio or resistance training or even 15 minutes of self-massage with therapy balls, if I don’t have time for a full workout.
It is best to learn yoga in person but once you have taken classes and feel confident it is nice to practice on your own at your own pace sometimes.
Usually, I work with my own yoga practice but sometimes I work with online programs that I bought and a mixture of monthly memberships to keep from getting bored.
I have taught and taken a lot of different types of yoga, so I have a couple of sequences to draw from. I do the Bikram series or a modified Ashtanga practice on my own some days from the poses I have learned in classes and from yoga teachers’ training.
Yoga Burn is an exercise routine based on yoga and not as traditional as some types of yoga. If you are a yoga purist you might hate it.
It is a fun program with strength and conditioning blended with yoga. But it gets boring because she has you do the same thing 3 -times in a row for a 45-minute workout. But you can do one set each of three of the sessions to make it more interesting.
Rocky Heron is one of my favorites at Yoga International. He has a nice set of joint warmups and isometrics and novel ways to stretch and condition the body using interesting props to help you go deeper. There are many different teachers to choose from on this platform.
Karin knows a lot about the physiology of stretching. She has a nice prehab set of daily exercises and she has 3 separate courses with a focus on flexibility strength and conditioning.
Other Pilates and yoga resources
Gaia has an extensive library of programs for both yoga and Pilates as well as a lot of material on meditation. Be sure to check out Rodney Yee’s classes if you get a subscription to Gaia
Pilates Anytime has all kinds of great courses: mat classes, barre workouts, and even equipment-based classes if you have a reformer or Pilates chair or springboard set up.
If you have access to a local park or track or hiking trails it’s nice to get out for a walk or jog. To make it more interesting you could add 5-minutes jump rope sessions on soft grass interspersed with a speed rope and heavy rope from Cross Rope.
Tabata high-intensity interval workouts are a fun way to work up a sweat fast, and there are so many classes on YouTube you will never run out.
Dance is a great workout that gets you to move in new ways. You can dance exercise routines, ballet barre classes, Salsa solo footwork lessons or tap dancing, etc.
Kim Constable’s at-home bodyweight training series is intense and fun without having to buy a lot of equipment.
A TRX system is an inexpensive way to get a lot of different strength movements. TRX can be set up on a door or outside using a tree or jungle gym
Exercise Ball workouts are fun for variety and there are plenty of great online resources
Pilates Chair resistance training
I do not recommend getting a Pilates chair and trying to figure it out on your own without taking a few classes with a good teacher who understands the chair first.
The Pilates chair is such an unusual piece of equipment it takes a little getting used to for safety. But once you try it and see that you love it the chair can be an amazing full-body workout gym all by itself.
I bought a portable pilates chair through Pilates Pro Chair and it isn’t bad at all. The Pilates chair is not as popular as the reformer but it takes up very little room and offers hundreds of challenging exercises.
You can get a decent chair to use at home for much less money than a reformer. A cheap reformer doesn’t hold up for many of the exercises.
I bought the bungee cord reformer after teaching in high-end Pilates studios with top-of-the-line equipment, so I was a bit spoiled. But I don’t recommend it.
You can do some of the exercises at home on a flimsy reformer, but it just isn’t the same. The chair is a simpler item to construct and so you get a better at-home experience.
My home Pilates chair isn’t as sturdy as the 2000-dollar chairs in Pilates studios. But I still can do all of the same exercises.
If you have not used the chair before it is a good idea to take a class that uses the chair before you try it at home to get a feel for it. If you are experienced with Pilates all you need is a refresher of the different exercises using videos. There are thousands of good videos on Pilates chair exercises.
The one problem with the Pilates Pro Chair is that it only comes with 2 springs. This is problematic depending on your body weight. But there is an easy fix. You can order 2 heavier springs from Amazon and play with the settings for different exercises.
The 2 larger springs are hard to get on and off so you might want to write down your exercises as you become familiar with the different settings and batch your exercises, so you do all the lighter exercises in a row and then switch out one or more springs.
There are 4 different places to set the springs so with 2 springs you have quite a few settings and it is easy to slide springs up and down. But the two heavier springs are harder to adjust so do those exercises last if you do find you need one or two heavier springs for a few of the exercises.
Some exercises on the chair are actually harder with fewer springs because you are not getting the support from below to lift you up as you do a step up etc., and some exercises are harder the heavier the springs are. You have to play around with it for a while until you figure out what works.
Another great piece of Pilates equipment for home use is the Pilates springboard. You can make it yourself and order the springs or order the expensive unit if you have the cash and don’t want to make one yourself.
Bonus exercise systems to try out
- Hand exercises using a set of resistance balls
- Eye exercises Yoga for Your Eyes by Meir Schneider or Vision for Life by Orlin G. Sorensen
- Facial exercises with FlexEffect by Debora Crowley
- TRX system
- Jump ropes from Cross Rope
- Yoga mat and props
- Foam roller
- exercise balls
- Massage balls
- Inversion sling
- Om yoga inversion sling and frame (I got one on sale for 100 dollars)
- Hand weights
- Exercise bands,
- Pilates resistance ring
Things on my list to get
- Pilates springboard
- Standing bike
It is fun to go to an in-person class now and then when you have the time. But it’s nice to have home workouts available.
Commuting to classes and spending a fortune is no fun. Sweaty heated yoga classes are disgusting though they can be great for motivation and training now and then to perk up your solo workouts.
You might enjoy the alone time. It is a form of meditation for me.
You might also like going to the gym a couple of times a week to take a class and use the larger free weights and machines and to be around other people.
Group exercise, Salsa, swing dance, or ballroom dance classes are nice to look forward to in the evenings after working as a freelancer on your own business or job at home all day alone.
Make sure to keep moving and trying new things so your body stays happy.