My family and I are approximately 179 days into our shelter in place order. I haven’t been keeping an exact count since I’ve been busy learning the finer points of “virtual learning” and the kindergarten curriculum, but 179 days feels about right. As much as I don’t mind spending more time at home and away from people in general, one of the few things I am genuinely missing is my CrossFit box. Luckily, my box and so many others around the world have been doing an absolutely amazing job encouraging athletes to keep CrossFitting at home.
It’s taken me a few weeks, and a lot of comical WOD mishaps, to feel like I’ve sort of figured out this whole working out at home thing. And since I know there are athletes worldwide that are in the same boat, I want to share some of the things that have been helpful for me. And maybe some of the lessons I learned (the hard way). Here is everything you need to know about CrossFitting, and working out in general, at home.
The Importance of Continuing
Before we get too far, I want to make sure that I spend a little time exploring WHY I think it is so important that we all keep working out, in some sort of way. And it’s not because I’m worried about your summer body, because quite frankly who the hell knows when our bodies will see the light of day again. And it just doesn’t really matter. It’s important for a lot mental and emotional reasons.
First, if you’ve become accustomed to working out semi-regularly, it’s a little jarring to suddenly stop. When we didn’t know how long this whole shelter in place business was going to last, I was all for taking a little break. I was trying to figure out how to be both a corporate leader and a teacher, without committing any crimes or permanently scarring my child. I wasn’t in the right space to add figuring out all the amazing things I can do with a set of resistance bands on top of everything else.
But now that it’s become clear that we’re going to be here (home, we’re going to be home) for a good, long while, I’ve realized how important it is for my mental health that I maintain some sense of normalcy. And part of that is carving out time to workout regularly. I’ve also found that I just feel better emotionally when I workout; it’s how I remind myself that I am strong and worth taking care of.
Working out is a way that I affirm that I value myself, my physical health, and my emotional wellbeing. And in all honesty, what better time is there to take care of my body than during a freaking pandemic? Healthy, strong bodies have a tendency to handle illness better. It’s not a guarantee, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
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All that in mind, I’ve made the decision that continuing to run and workout is non-negotiable. My workouts are definitely looking different, but they are happening.
Home Gym Essentials
When I first embarked on this whole CrossFitting at home business, step one for me was to take stock of what I had available, and decide if I wanted to add anything. In all honesty, the only thing you REALLY need to workout is a small space. A garage is nice, but a living room, a parking spot, heck even a balcony will work just fine.
You probably already have something to step up on in your home like a couch, bed, chair, or my personal favorite, a cooler. You can add resistance with all sorts of things lying around your house, including (but not limited to) water jugs, laundry soap, old college text books you haven’t cracked open in a decade thrown in a backpack, small children, and pets.
If you’re not particularly interested in hoisting your cocker spaniel over your head, there’s a few pieces of home gym equipment that are relatively inexpensive. A few small things that can go along way are resistance bands, a jump rope, and one piece of weight gear (a dumbbell or kettlebell). If you can snag a pair, that’s great. But if two weights is cost prohibitive, you can do a whole lot with just one.
If you haven’t been furloughed, and have a little more free cash flow to play with, you can always consider grabbing a few additional pieces of equipment. A barbell, door jam pull-up bar, and weighted medicine ball can all go a long way. If you’re considering some larger pieces of home gym equipment, you probably don’t need me to go on making recommendations. Feel free to a throw few pieces from my Amazon Wish List into your cart if you’re feeling extra charitable. Just kidding. Mostly.
Body Weight Exercises
If you’re closer to my end of the budgeting spectrum (just slightly north of broke), you might not be interested in outfitting your home gym at this point in time. And that’s totally fine. There’s a lot of body weight movements that you can rotate through to keep yourself moving. And remember, that’s real goal here. Staying physically active, regardless of the circumstances.
Here’s a few movements that you can sub for weighted movements. For strength, incorporate push-up variations, core movements like sit-ups, planks, and glute bridges, squat and lunge variations, and handstand movements. For more of a cardio focus, movements like burpee (ugh) variations, jump squat and lunge variations, running, jumping and hopping, and step-ups (remember you can use a chair, couch, cooler, or a very strong and patient spouse).
What’s great about all of these movements is that there are four million variations that you can incorporate to target different muscle groups and keep things interesting. A quick Google search will show you just how many different ways you can squat: prisoner squat, Cossack squat, pistol squat, split squat…..I’m going to stop now so I don’t feel like Forrest Gump. The same thing applies to push ups, handstand movements, and pretty much everything mentioned. So with a little research and creativity, you really can get in a good workout without a single piece of equipment.
Tips For CrossFitting At Home
After you’ve taken stock in what you’ve got, the space you want to utilize, and have some movement options in your back pocket, you’re ready to start CrossFitting at home! But that’s not where I’ll leave you. Because having the means to workout at home and actually working out at home are two very different things. Here’s a few things that have helped me make sure I actually put in the work.
Having a designated and scheduled time has really helped me stay accountable to myself. I’ve found that my designated time has definitely changed since my son has been home all day, and I’ve also found that I have to take things one day at a time. While I used to get away with scheduling most of my workouts well in advance, that just isn’t working for us right now. I’m having to check the weather to see if we can workout outside together, my work schedule to see if a meeting was moved, and my husband’s schedule on a day by day basis.
But knowing that I want to get in a workout on specific days has helped me to look at the next day and decide where my workout and run will happen, and when it will work well with my family schedule. On multiple occasions I’ve had to employ some creativity in my scheduling so that my son can get in some outside time while I CrossFit outside. And while this has required a little more preparation and planning, Keeping My Kid Active during the corona crisis has been just as important to my sanity as making sure I stay active myself.
I’ve been so happy to see just how many options there are for finding great CrossFit workouts that require minimal equipment. I shared several resources on my recent blog post, Staying Healthy & Sane During Social Distancing, but there are so many options right now. Most CrossFit boxes are regularly posting workouts that are available to the public. Street Parking has shared workouts that require nothing but one dumbbell on their Instagram. Of course, I am also posting workouts on my own Instagram account, as well as my Workouts page.
Pinterest has thousands of workouts available to browse. The blog, Running On Real Food, has some amazing CrossFit style workouts posted on their site and Pinterest account. And I’ve found that with just a little creativity, it can be very easy to modify workouts to match your equipment availability. Find a great workout that includes pull-ups? Try modifying with a towel row or resistance band row.
Remember, the goal right now is to focus on your overall health. Maintaining some physical strength is great, but what’s most important in a crazy time like this is that you continue to honor your body by taking care of it and moving it regularly. For the mental and physical benefits. So if you have to completely modify or change a workout because you don’t have the programmed equipment, that is absolutely no issue.
Related Post: Shelter in Place: Lessons Learned
My final recommendation is to keep connected and engaged with your CrossFit community. Because we all know that being a member of a CrossFit box is not just about deadlifts and power cleans. It’s about laughing at the fact that ring muscle ups are programmed, or cheering for someone who just got their first bar muscle up. There’s so much strength and motivation that comes from being a part of this amazing community.
So post your workouts, tag your box, text your CrossFit friends, and do the zoom WODs if you’re so inclined. Because learning how to CrossFit at home during this pandemic is something that we’re all figuring out together, and it’s a lot easier to laugh at the lengths we are going to to stay somewhat fit if we’re laughing together. Support your box, stay connected to your community, and keep moving.