When the Gym Is Totally Yours, There's No One Hogging the Gear
No word on Punxsutawney Phil's plans for next week. There is, however, a strong chance the famous groundhog will poke his head out of his burrow, decide it's still winter and go back to bed, much like a lot of us do during our daily debate over whether to go to the gym.
But even though staying inside is allowed, it's time to toss off the covers and figure out how to get a fitness routine cooking. Turns out that if you're having trouble with the recipe, you can even have it delivered. Yes, like pizza. "I just open the door, and she's there," marvels Kim Romary, who moved her personal training sessions from McLean's STS Fitness (http:/
Besides getting to wear clothes with holes to workouts, the 49-year-old quickly discovered other benefits to the house calls, such as never having an audience for tough exercises or waiting for her turn on a piece of equipment.
Not that her trainer needs much stuff to be effective. "What's important is being creative," explains Michael Lin, co-owner of Verve Health & Fitness (http:/
Plus, you can improvise with the furnishings you've got: Stairs can be used to help with push-ups (they're easier the higher your body is elevated) or jumped up on one leg; the couch back can become a makeshift barre for ballet-inspired exercises and the edge of a bed can come in handy for triceps dips. Linda Rudd, owner of STS, has taken one client into the kitchen for certain moves: "She can balance against the counter."
If beside the pantry doesn't seem like the ideal spot for sweating, call exercise physiologist RogerYasin (http:/
Clients can use it almost like a science lab: Yasin has them experiment with everything to decide what they like and what fits their needs. Then he'll help them figure out what they should buy based on budget and space, set it up and demonstrate how to use it. That way they're free to keep up the exercise routine on their own, and the cost of all this can be much cheaper than membership fees at a gym. (Yasin's clients are also welcome to continue training with him at his place.)
His tiniest gym project? A walk-in closet in a condo in Georgetown. The basis is a bench that can be used for weights, as a step or as an anchor for resistance bands. "I designed a whole workout around it," he says.
The hardest part of developing a small home gym is integrating cardio training. Treadmills and the like are pricey investments that tend to take up serious space, and cheap, portable options (such as jump ropes) are often a problem indoors, especially in apartments. Rudd often gets around the issue by taking a series of strength-building exercises, including such classics as squats and lunges, and stringing them together in a circuit. Try them with no breaks at a rapid clip and your heart'll be pumping in no time. Yasin favors kickboxing, as the swift, controlled arm and leg movements don't take up much room but require a lot of energy.
Jenn Tung, co-owner of Goddess Fitness in Bethesda (http:/
No matter how perfectly you deck out your gym, home workouts aren't for everyone. "If you're looking for lat pulldowns and leg presses, and you don't have those machines, that's difficult," Rudd cautions.
Lin, who has a gym in his house, says he's much more likely to exercise at Verve to get a boost from other people's energy and to take advantage of the expanded options. "As you get stronger, at a gym you have a variety of weights: 8, 10, 12. Most people will go up in five-pound increments at home," he explains.
Without someone knocking on your door, you might lack the motivation to go downstairs, let alone start on a set of bicycle crunches. And if there's a spouse or kids around, along with a ringing telephone, even the most well-intentioned exercisers may never actually get around to the planned routine.
Which is why, Phil, we're hoping your forecast calls for an early spring -- and some encouragement to get our butts out of our burrows.