Back in April, I started a "conversation" here about wellness -- and specifically about fitness, and especially as we age. Based on your comments, I'd say we all pretty much fall into one of two camps:
(1) those of us who have discovered strategies to make fitness a part of our lives, and
(2) those of us who would like to.
I thought it might be helpful to have some of the folks in the first camp . . . share their fitness and workout strategies with those in the second camp. A couple of weeks ago, I shared my sister Diane’s, story – about developing a walking routine for the long term. Today I’m sharing Carolyn’s story. Carolyn has mastered the self-directed fitness/video workout at home routine, and her enthusiasm and tips may inspire you to give it a try, too.
Some of you may already know Carolyn from her blog and business – The Handwritten Thank You Note. Carolyn is in her mid-forties, married, with three kids (ages 15, 11, and 7) (plus 2 dogs and chickens). She’s stayed home with her kids since they were born, working from home in the very beginning, homeschooling for a few years, and starting to freelance now that they’re all on a full-day school schedule. Like my sister, Carolyn is an Upholder (from Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies; you can take the quiz here and see what your tendency is).
Carolyn exercises for the endorphins – and feels anything else is a bonus. She’s been an almost-daily-exerciser since she was 14, when she worked out with her dad (she calls him her “amazing role model for daily fitness”). For Carolyn, exercise is her "normal" – and without even a modest dose of those good hormones, she tends to be restless and (in her words) “prone to crankiness.”
What does Carolyn do to keep those endorphins up? She relies on You Tube fitness videos!
Yes. Carolyn exercises to a variety of YouTube fitness videos for anywhere from 10-45 minutes each day. (This is in addition to “simply being active” – cruising on her bike, walking the dogs, gardening, etc.) During the school year, she starts at 6 am. When her kids are home and their mornings aren’t on a time clock, she can be a bit more flexible. But Carolyn always fits in her video routine before she goes anywhere or does anything for the day, and mentions that it’s always “before I get dressed in my ‘real’ clothes for the day. Because (and I can so relate to this) . . . once she’s up and out for the day, Carolyn knows she “won’t change into exercise clothes to workout at, say 1 in the afternoon. Or 3 or 4. Won’t happen.”
What does Carolyn’s fitness routine look like, exactly? Here’s what she does:
Each day, she decides what she wants to do and how much time she has that day. Then she types it into her Google search bar, clicks on videos, and picks from the list it offers. (Carolyn adds that there might be a tech-savvier way to do this--but this is what works for her.) On any given day she might type in one of these:
- 15-min upper body free-weight workout
- 20-min total body toning no equipment
- 10-min lower body resistance band workout
- 10-min standing ab workout
- 45-min fusion fitness
- 30-min cardio & strength
- 15-min total body stretch
- 20-min yoga for core strength
- 10-min cardio blast (Carolyn says, “never a favorite--BUT--I can do anything for 10 minutes!”)
Sometimes Carolyn just does one video; other times she'll put two or three together. This morning, for example, she reports that she did a 10-minute 'lower body burn' series, followed by 10 minutes of standing ab work and then picked a 10-minute stretch video. She loves that she can tailor her workout to how she feels, how much time she has, which body parts she wants to focus on, and whether she wants stretch, strength, stamina, or a combination. She switches up the workouts all the time so she doesn’t get too comfortable with any of them (and then “get lazy”).
Carolyn’s routine is easy, accessible, flexible, and portable. It works well at home – and also while traveling. It’s easy to use your phone for 10-minute hotel room YouTube workouts – and she always packs a resistance band (such a great idea). In the summertime, Carolyn’s family lives at their little cottage on Lake Erie for 8 weeks – and she manages to keep up her fitness routine there.
Carolyn says, “I've tried a variety of routines over the last 30 years--(literally) hundreds of group classes...gym memberships...running (short-lived)...lap swimming...sprint triathlon training...and workout DVDs from my local library. When I settled into YouTube workouts a few years ago, I have to say I felt like I hit my-kind-of-jackpot. It's the' anywhere, anytime, any gear' of it that works for me. Often, I exercise barefoot in my jammie pants and a tank top! That makes it even harder to find an excuse! I don't have to change my clothes...I don't have to put on my shoes...my heart rate increases and my muscles work hard...?! Jackpot!”
I asked Carolyn if she ever gets bored with her workout. Nope. She doesn’t – because she’s always switching the workout, the length of time, the teacher, the equipment (bands, free weights, no equipment). That's a huge bonus to her 'method.' Every so often, Carolyn thinks of something new to add to her search (most recently, fusion fitness), which gives her even more options. She says, “a few years ago I started doing ballet workouts on YouTube, and that was a really fun way to diversify my exercise. I was a ballet dancer throughout my early years, and practicing something that is such a part of my bones, you might say, brings me great joy. I don't even feel like I'm exercising when I'm doing a barre workout, at least not in the traditional way. I feel like I'm connecting with a part of my former self!”
Carolyn’s advice for others looking to begin a self-directed workout they can do at home:
- First, remember her mantra – “You can do anything for 10 minutes.” Carolyn says there are days when she’s feeling rushed or lacking oomph or just doesn’t feel like exercising. When those times come, she repeats her mantra out loud. And she’s right – we can always find 10 minutes in our day for a short workout! (As Carolyn points out . . . “Barack Obama made time for basketball conditioning when he was in The White House, for crying out loud. If he can shoot hoops for a half-hour, I figure I can work in some free weights or Pilates.”)
- Second, start with 10 minutes: it almost always leads to more minutes. Carolyn says, “Because it feels good and makes me happy and--heck, I'm already on the mat -- why not stay there and just keep going? I benefit so much more from adding 10 minutes with my triceps than, say, scrolling Instagram...”
- Last, don’t compare your workout to anyone else’s. Carolyn says her husband, for example, “does a really intense workout 6 mornings/week. (She says she tried it once or twice. It wasn't for her. His commitment, though, does help her stick to hers.). Other people I know will run and sweat in 85-degree heat or train for multi-day bike races...things that just don't appeal to me. By working out within my comfort zone, setting expectations that I can realistically meet and often exceed, I feel successful--and that's really good motivation.”
What do you think? Is a self-directed/video workout routine at home for you? And if that's what you already do, what advice might you add?