My Tips for a Home Gym

Happy Wednesday!  Instead of a workout this week, I thought I'd share a bit about my home gym.  

I often lift weights at my apartment, and use the gym for cardio (especially the pool!) and classes.  I already work from home, so sometimes it's just easier to eat a snack, change clothes, and get in a workout here.  Like most things, there are positives and negatives about working out at home.  Here are my pros and cons.

Pros:

No time wasted by traveling to the gym; you're already there!  This is especially great when you only have time for a short workout. 

No judgement (and I can wear mismatched socks - bonus).

No annoying gym goers to distract me from my workout (you know what I mean - grunters, cell phone talkers, bench hoggers, creepers, etc.)

No waiting for weights or floor space to stretch or perform core work.

Cons:

Space limitations (especially if you live in an apartment, like I do).

Equipment limitations (equipment adds up and items like benches and even kettlebells are expensive).

Potential for motivation issues (sometimes the act of actually getting TO the gym is what propels us to stick with the workout).

I still think it's totally worth it and doable to work out at home.  Here are a few of my tips!

My workout buddy.

My workout buddy.

Tips for working out at home:

1.  Have a designated area in your house to both store equipment and work out.  We have a bookcase entirely filled with exercise equipment.  Yes, it's kind of an odd thing to see hanging out in the corner of one's living room, but it works.  

2.  If possible, include a mirror in your workout space.  Mine isn't full length, but I can at least check out my form when performing upper body moves.

3.  Start your workout with a plan.  Even though I'm at home, I still jot down some exercises or look up a workout on Pinterest that I want to try.  That way I'm not tempted to wander around the house in between sets, or quit early to lie on the couch. :)

4.  Try to build a variety of equipment in your home gym, even if it takes time.  I've had weights and the stability ball and medicine ball for a while, but just got a kettlebell this year.  I haven't been able to use that as much as I would have liked because of various injuries, but am hoping to incorporate it into more workouts soon!  I'd also like to pick up a dynamax ball and maybe a few additional kettlebells.

5.  However, don't let a lack of equipment deter you from working out at home!  There are plenty of workouts you can do with just one piece of equipment, or with just your own bodyweight!  

Medicine ball workout

Bodyweight workout

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Equipment in our home gym:

Yoga mat and foam roller

Resistance bands

Kettlebell 

Medicine ball

Stability ball

5 to 35-lb pound weights

Pull-up bar (upstairs closet, so do have to make trips up and down the stairs when incorporating it into a workout)

Desk chair (don't discount this piece of furniture for triceps dips and bent over dumbbell rows!)

Do you workout at home?  What are your pros and cons?

Meals for the Week of April 20

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!  We're currently cooking our Easter meal, but had a nice morning and afternoon, starting with church and then breakfast at Jack and Zach, and then a quick run before starting dinner.

The Easter Egg hunt in one of the Mt. Vernon parks where all the church and community kids had the opportunity to hunt for eggs :)

The Easter Egg hunt in one of the Mt. Vernon parks where all the church and community kids had the opportunity to hunt for eggs :)

Hands down best pancake ever.  Also love their yogurt and granola topped with fruit.

Hands down best pancake ever.  Also love their yogurt and granola topped with fruit.

Here's what we'll be eating for Easter dinner:

Bourbon-apricot jam glazed ham, buttermilk biscuits, bourbon baked beans, and asparagus

Plan for the rest of the week:

Monday:  Baked maple salmon with broccoli

Tuesday:  Easter leftovers

Wednesday:  Out to dinner :)

Thursday:  Chicken Thighs with Artichoke Hearts and Feta Cheese 

My sister made this recently and told me it was delicious, so I'm giving it a try (she used chicken breasts and so am I).  I've been meaning to try artichokes so I think the jarred kind will be a good start before preparing and cooking them fresh.

Friday/Saturday: Play by ear, as usual.  

What's on your menu this week?

Take 30 + Quick Body Weight Workout

Hello friends!  I'm so glad it's Thursday; this week seems never-ending to me.  

So, confession time - I am the WORST at taking time after work to do household chores.  I would much rather be working out, cooking dinner, or let's face it, sitting on the couch watching TV or reading blogs.

However, this lackluster attitude hasn't helped the state of our house lately.  It's gotten a bit out of hand. Which makes me feel even worse and less inspired to do something about it.

Enter my new goal - Take 30!

I will take 30 minutes an evening to do household chores, such as dust upstairs, empty all the trashcans in the house, clean the bathroom sink and mirror, do laundry, etc.  It's not a lot of time, and I know these are all small chores, but I think every little bit will help, right?  And also make me feel more productive.

I've added a new "Take 30" Reminder List on my iPhone (this is how we keep track of everything in our house!) with chores I'd like to accomplish each week, and remove them when I'm done.  The next week, I'll add new chores! 

Speaking of taking just a little time each day to be productive, here's a new bodyweight workout that I wanted to share.  It doesn't take long to do, and while focusing on the core, works other muscle groups too!  Again, every little bit helps!

core'n'morebodyweightworkout.jpg

Links to some of the exercises:

Single-leg deadlift 

Plank with leg lift

Side lunge

Shoulder tap plank

Let me know if you try it! :)

Are you a little bit at a time cleaner or total cleaning spree type of person?  What helps motivate you to take the time to clean?

Meals for the Week of April 13

Good evening friends.  I hope you all had lovely weekends and enjoyed some time outdoors!  

At the Orioles game last night...before it got chilly and I was ready for the game to be over!

At the Orioles game last night...before it got chilly and I was ready for the game to be over!

This afternoon we walked to Whole Foods to pick up groceries.  Here's what we're planning to eat this week:

Breakfasts

Oatmeal with walnuts and cranberries (maybe I'll make quinoa breakfast bars later this week)

Green smoothies

Lunches

Skinny Chicken Waldorf Salad 

Whole Foods Frozen Vegetable Lasagna for Wednesday's trip to the office

Snacks

Hummus and carrots

Apples and bananas

Whole Foods brand Greek yogurt (especially looking forward to trying the Fig and Date kind)

Luna bars

Nibnor dark chocolate

Dinners

Sunday - Roast chicken and vichyssoise (French potato and leek soup) 

Monday - Leftovers

Tuesday - Fiesta Bean Salad with garlic shrimp 

Wednesday - Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon 

Thursday - Leftovers

Yeah it was NOT fun carrying all of these (plus skim milk for Victor) 1.5 miles home

Yeah it was NOT fun carrying all of these (plus skim milk for Victor) 1.5 miles home

What's on your meal plan this week?

How to Survive in Indoor Cycling Class...and Still Want to Go Back

Hi friends!  Happy Wednesday!  I've been taking a lot of indoor cycling classes lately as I work towards becoming a Group Ride instructor, and thought it'd be fun to share a few tips of how to survive your first class....and still want to go back for more (like me!).

 

DO ARRIVE AT THE GYM EARLY

Most clubs have a sign-up system of some sort for bike classes, which tend to fill up super fast because the class size is limited by the amount of bikes (and they're crazy popular).  

DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

Proper bike set-up is CRUCIAL to your success in class.  This is another reason to arrive early, so you have the opportunity to ask the instructor for assistance in setting up your bike.  If your bike seat is too low, for example, it can put too much pressure on your knees and cause knee pain.  Then, you'll be much less likely to come back, and you might even hurt yourself.

DO BRING WATER AND A TOWEL

Honestly, I think I sweat more in bike classes than any other class/exercise.  A towel is crucial, as well as a water bottle (this Klean Kanteen bottle is my go-to).  And don't expect an official water break; just grab your bottle when there's a break between songs or when you need to rehydrate.

DO EXPECT TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE

Okay people, truth time:  Bike seats hurt.  A lot.  Everywhere. Got it?  It WILL feel uncomfortable during class, and after class.  Maybe even for a few days.  If the instructor gives you an opportunity to stand during a song, take it.  But I promise - you will get used to it, and it won't bother you after your first couple weeks.  For my training class (and indoor triathlon the next weekend), I bought bike shorts and I think they helped.  However, now, unless I'm taking a lot of classes in a row or spending more time on the bike, I just wear regular workout pants.

DO EXPECT TO NOT BE ON TOP OF YOUR GAME AT FIRST

If you're brand new to cycling class, or returning after a long absence, you may not be able to keep up with the fast pace or resistance changes like the instructor and some of the more experienced students.  That's ok.  You wouldn't expect to be able to just go out and run 5 miles at an 8:00 pace if you haven't run before, or in a while (I'm still working on that myself).  Same thing goes for cycling classes.  If you need to slow down and just pedal your legs for a while, go for it.  Maybe you get your breath back in a few minutes and can jump back in, maybe you spend more time at that easy pace - do whatever YOUR BODY needs.

DON'T FORGET TO STRETCH AFTERWARDS

It's so tempting to climb off the bike and head home and get on with your day (or lie on the couch for an hour or so...), but taking the time to stretch all the muscles you just worked is crucial.  If your class includes time afterwards for instructor-led stretching, stay and participate.  If not, or if you feel like you need a little extra time for stretching, stretch when you get home (before relaxing on the couch).  Definitely stretch your quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors!  Or, try this yoga sequence for after an indoor cycling class.

DO EXPECT TO GET A GREAT WORKOUT 

Bike classes are a terrific workout; beyond just getting a fantastic cardio workout, you are also building serious leg muscles.  Many bike classes include specific tracks for working on your cardio endurance, and also incorporate climbs (simulating hills on an actual bike) to build muscle.  They're definitely one of my favorite ways to work out!

Are you an indoor cycling class fan?   What kind of cycling classes have you tried?