Wednesday 18 March 2020 6:18 pm

Home workout: Easy ways to stay in shape amid Covid-19

I write a regular fitness column for City AM, covering everything from the best ways to work-out to how to stay on top mental form

What a crazy few weeks it’s been. The City is quieter than I’ve ever seen it – it’s like a ghost town out there. Few of us have ever experienced this kind of mass uncertainty, and that makes it more important than ever to look after ourselves. Thankfully, although we might be locked inside, there are still loads of things we can do to stay active. Here’s how to get a thorough home workout.

The fitness industry, like many others, has been hit hard, with more and more people staying at home and avoiding the gym. On Monday the Prime Minister recommended people practice social distancing and this has meant many gyms have now closed for the time being.

If you are still able to go to the gym, it’s vital to make sure hygiene is top of your agenda. Bring some of that near-mythical hand sanitizer with you and make sure you use it before and after touching any equipment. Wipe all machines down after use with the disposable towels provided and throw them away after use. And for the love of God don’t leave your dirty towels lying around the place. This is all pretty standard stuff, but there’s nothing like a global crisis to kickstart good hygiene habits.  

For those who can’t get to a gym, it’s still important to keep training. For a start, those working from home will probably find themselves moving much less, so training becomes even more important. There’s also the constant temptation of opening another packet of biscuits, especially if you’ve stockpiled half an isle’s worth of non-perishables from your local Asda.

More importantly, exercise can help keep your immune system functioning properly, which is especially pertinent today. I’m not saying doing a few sit-ups will stop you from getting coronavirus, but it certainly won’t do you any harm.

There are a few areas you should focus on; let’s start with exercise.

Exercise

Being at home can be quite limiting in terms of space and lack of equipment. The good news is that the best bit of kit we have is our own body. There’s so much you can do with it: press ups, lunges, squats, planks, jumps, stretches. 

I’ve been doing the following simple circuit, completing each exercise five times, which should be enough to get your heart rate nice and high:

• 10 Push ups

• 5 Burpees

• 10 Side to side lunges

• 5 Burpees

• 10 Forward lunges

• 5 Burpees

• 10 Squats

With this workout, focus on your form: keep moving all the way through each exercise rather than jerking your body. If you want to introduce some equipment to your home workout, look at a suspension kit like the TRX, a resistance band and a pair of dumbbells.

Motivation

More than half of the problem is starting your exercise in the first place. The strain of uncertainty is difficult. Your gym routine probably connects to your commute or lunch break, so positive habits are likely to be broken. 

Another problem is that with many events being cancelled, such as the London Marathon, people have fewer things to train for, which lowers your motivation. 

The good news is that my clients who have been working from home over the last week have commented on how it’s helped keep them sane. My advice is to set small goals and reevaluate them on a week-to-week basis. Plan ahead and write down when you are going to train – then stick to it.

If you are struggling for motivation, there are other options. At No.1 Fitness we have had to think of strategies to keep our clients training. Online training has become popular over the last few years. We write programs for our clients to follow as well as coaching them on other areas of their life, including nutrition and daily habits. The trainers check in with the clients regularly to keep them accountable. 

One step further is virtual training. We have been using a platform called Remote Coach to train our clients virtually. Using a live call and heart rate monitoring, we are able to train our clients through a tablet, and coach them in real time, just like a PT session. The technology has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years and it’s ideal for times like these. If you work with a trainer, this could be a great option for you.

No.1 Fitness will also be launching virtual group training sessions next week, which is a similar concept to the awesome Peloton, but one of our trainers will take people from all over the world through a session without the need for any equipment.

Nutrition also plays a huge part when you’re working from home. With the lack of movement, it will be very easy to put on weight if you are not paying attention to your food intake. Using an app like myfitnesspal will help you stay on top of what you are consuming. 

The type of food you consume will also play an important role in your health. Supermarkets are bereft of toilet paper and hand wash, yet the fruit and veg isles are full. This is baffling: this virus affects the immune system, so it’s essential we do everything to keep it working at its best. Getting your five a day is more important than ever, and try to stay away from junk food as much as possible 

If you’re unsure how much food you should be eating, search online for a BMR calculator and enter your information. This will provide you with a daily calorie target. Multiply it by seven and that will give you the net amount of calories to aim for in a week. This is a great approach, because there will always be days you over consume, but you can then balance it out over the next few days.

Finally, rest and recovery is as important as the training. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you are working from home, focus on maintaining similar sleeping patterns each day. Going to bed and rising at the same times will help your energy levels up throughout the day.

• To book a session with No1 Fitness, visit no1fitness.co.uk or call 0207 403 6660

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