With New Year's resolutions just kicking into gear for a lot of people, the gym gets awfully crowded in January.
Some gym-goers might want to sit out the mad rush—let newbies learn the ropes—or lose their will—before heading back to the health club. The good news? It is possible to get a full-body workout at home. Here are some tips on maintaining your fitness routine during the New Year's gym crunch:
“It’s kind of cliché, but it’s about the New Year’s resolutions. It’s a little break, and gives you a bit a clean slate,” says Gina Gutierrez, general manager of Diakadi Fitness in San Francisco. “People get the feeling that ‘now’s the time,’” she says. During January, Diakadi will see everyone from experienced triathletes to beginners looking to lose weight living out their New Year’s resolutions.
During January and February, gym-goers and trainers alike can expect an increase in crowds around the elliptical and treadmill. But don’t let the crowds deter you from working out, even if standing in line at the treadmill sounds like a new level ring of fitness hell. Whether you decide to adjust your workout schedule or to fit in a workout at home, recommitting to personal fitness is a great way to kick off the new year. (Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.)
If You Decide to Brave the Gym
If you’re new to exercise, Gutierrez recommends heading in to see a trainer at least once before starting at-home workouts, even if it means braving the gym rush. You’ll learn proper workout technique, which can help prevent injury later. “Head in to see a personal trainer for an hour or an hour-and-a-half session. Consider it a bit like going to the doctor for a checkup. They’ll write out a program for you that you can then take home,” she says.
During the post-resolution craze, choosing a time to head to the gym requires a bit of strategy, in addition to any motivation it normally requires. The busiest times, for both personal trainers and membership-based gyms, are the before- and after work-shifts. Think between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and then between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. If possible, plan around those times.
“If you can get a workout in during midday, like on a lunch break, that’ll be best,” Gutierrez says.
Get a Full-Body Workout at Home
Waiting in line for a cardio machine when you don’t really want to be there in the first place is enough to dissuade anyone from working out. But you can get a full-body workout at home, with no equipment.
Block out 30 minutes for this great beginner’s bodyweight circuit. For more advanced exercisers, Diakadi’s blog offers different progressions for some of these moves to increase difficulty. “With bodyweight exercises, the idea is to build a solid foundation,” Gutierrez says.
Make sure to wear comfortable workout clothes and exercise shoes, and find a soft, carpeted surface. If you have a yoga mat or large towel handy, lay it on the floor. Gutierrez says to do 10-12 repetitions of each move, and 3-5 sets of the entire circuit, depending on your fitness level. Consider a “two-two count” for each move, counting “one, two” going into each move, and “one, two” getting out of each move, she says.
Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart and your back straight, reaching the crown of your head towards the sky. Hold your arms out straight in front of you, with your hands pointing forwards. Slowly lower for a two-count, bending your knees and keeping your arms out, until your thighs are parallel to the ground—or as close as you can get. Hold for a two-count, and then straighten again for a two-count, until you’re standing straight.
Stand with your feet hips-width apart and your back straight, reaching the crown of your head towards the sky. Place your hands on your hips and slightly bend your elbows out (or for a harder alteration, hold your arms out to the side, with your elbows bent so your arms are at an angle). Step forward with your right foot about three feet in front of your left foot. Lower down for a two-count, bending your right knee, until your right thigh is parallel to the floor—or as close as you can get. Keeps your left leg straight and in place, holding for a two-count. Rise back up for a two-count, and bring your right foot back to meet your left. Repeat the move with your left leg to complete one repetition.
Lie on your back, with your arms by your sides, but your hands raised towards the sky. Bend your knees up and bring your feet about a foot below your hips. Raise your hips slowly for a two-count, keep your shoulders and head on the ground. Hold for a two-count, and then lower for a two-count.
Lie on the ground and place your hands under your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward and your feet hips-width apart with straight legs. Push up for a two-count into a plank, so that your arms and back are straight and your hips are in line with your shoulders. Lower back down for a two-count, bending your elbows by your sides, until your arms make a 90 degree angle. Repeat pushing up and down for full repetitions.
Sit with your back against a chair or bench, and your legs out straight. Bend your arms behind your back so your hands rest on the seat of the chair or bench next to your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward. Push up for a two-count until your arms are straight, lifting your hips, and lower back down to sitting for a two-count. Keep your legs straight throughout.
Lie on the ground and place your hands under your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward and your feet hips-width apart with straight legs. Push just your upper body up, keeping your elbows in, for a two-count, just until your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Lower back down for a two-count. If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, stop.
Lie on the ground and place your hands under your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward and your feet hips-width apart with straight legs. Hold for 30 seconds. Push up for a two-count into a plank, so that your arms and back are straight and your hips are in line with your shoulders. Lower back down to the floor for a two-count. For alternations, try a forearm plank by clasping your hands in front of your face and supporting your upper body with your forearms on the ground.
For a final full-back stretch, start in a plank. Push your hips up towards the sky and your chest towards your thighs, but keep your hands and feet where they are. Stretch out and loosen up by pedaling your feet. Repeat until you feel relaxed.