Home Fitness Trend Continues with Pandemic

‘You don’t necessarily need to have equipment,’ says trainer

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

As ever-changing pandemic guidelines persist, many people have turned to working out at home.

Many gyms have limited the number of people able to participate at a time to prevent crowds and some people do not feel comfortable with exercising at a gym. Winter weather can also make getting to the gym difficult.

That is why it can be important to develop a back-up means of working out at home. For many people, home exercise is not as easy as going to the gym.

“It takes away the social interaction and one-on-one attention from a personal trainer,” said Brittany Rabuano, certified personal trainer and owner of Achilles Heel Training in Camillus. “You may need that guidance. It could get boring. There’s no appointment. The accountability is not there.”

Helen Green, owner of Powerhouse Gym in Syracuse, also said that creating home gyms has become popular, including equipment such as the Peloton bike, which offers accompanying content via its app.

“They can keep up with their routine,” Green said, “but they still need that one-on-one contact sometimes with a trainer. If you don’t have someone seeing what you’re doing, you could be doing it incorrectly. You need that connection of knowing what muscles you’re activating. I have had a personal trainer and without their help, it is hard to know how to do everything. It should not be a fast motion. It helps to have a trainer there to help you with that.”

Still, she added that working out at home is better than doing nothing at all.

Brandon Anderson, certified personal trainer at Blink Fitness Onondaga, said that Blink members can access the gym’s app, which offers 500 at-home workouts.

“The Blink app challenges the one-size-fits-all gym philosophy with curated content and digital workouts that allows our members to workout anytime, anywhere,” Anderson said.

Blink’s app includes healthy lifestyle support with recipes, guided meditation, and audio and video coaching.

When getting to the gym isn’t possible, a popular compromise is accessing virtual workouts with a trainer. These allow participants to sweat at home under the personal guidance of a professional for optimal safety and results, compared with doing so alone. While not the same as the in-person session, virtual workouts provides both assistance and motivation–elements lacking in many home workouts.

Not everyone has the means to access virtual workouts or pricey equipment.

“You don’t necessarily need to have equipment,” said Kevin Webb, certified personal trainer and owner of KW Fitness in Fayetteville. “You can use body weight exercise. Have a space and commit to a time to do something. You can find simple things online to do. Body weight exercises can keep you moving until you get back to what you’d normally be doing.”

Old-school jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, calf raises and planks use the body’s weight as the resistance. Compared with using free weights, body weight exercises have a lower risk of injury.

“Fitness equipment is really expensive right now and most people can’t invest in a whole gym,” said Sara Walls, certified personal trainer at Train Hard Fitness in Liverpool.

If cost is a factor, she advises purchasing just one or two pieces of versatile equipment: kettle bells and TRX straps. Kettle bells are round-shaped free weights with a handle on the top, like a kettle. TRX straps are resistance bands used as part of the Total Resistance Exercises (TRX) System developed by former Navy Seal Randy Hetrick to incorporate exercise bands and body weight to improve strength, flexibility and balance.

Walls said that kettle bells work the posterior chain, enlisting muscle groups from the calves through the waist. Kettle bells also may be incorporated into many different exercise movements.

“If you spend a lot of time hunched over at a desk, those muscles get weak and it leads to back pain,” Walls said. “A kettle bell swing can reverse some of that damage. TRX straps can be modified to work with a door frame. It’s a good way to build strength and core stability and balance.”

To stay motivated, it may help to set goal such as getting in fit for a race or to build up to a certain number of pushups per week.

Walls recommends getting a dog to walk.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do: walk eight miles a day with my dog,” Walls said. “Throw on a good podcast and you’re ready to go.”