How to stay active when you can’t go to the gym

How to stay active when you can't go to the gym

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, gyms and studios have closed their doors. We’ve been asked to stay home, practice social distancing and avoid travel at all costs. We’ve lost March Madness along with other sporting events and the ability to participate in athletics. All of this combined has added up to a lot of screen time and, at the Belmaggio household, watching Frozen 2 over and over (yes, I have all of the songs memorized, and I’m still not sure how I feel about Kristoff’s Peter Cetera rendition of Lost in the Woods).

During this time, it is important to remember we need to stay active – not only for our physical health, but our mental health as well. Fear of the unknown about the virus and the uncertainty of business and finance can easily lead us down a road of anxiety. One way we can help relieve this anxiety is exercise. But, what does that mean now that our access to fitness has been taken away? We have to get creative.

Before doing anything else, we need to prioritize exercise. Once we have it scheduled in our new daily routine, then we can begin to focus on our activity. If you’re a person interested in cardio, a simple run or bike ride might be your go-to exercise. If you are a CrossFitter, then you will need to plan your workout of the day, or WOD. If you’re a weight lifter, lack of equipment may prevent you from doing your favorite workout movements.

Creativity and planning are probably the biggest components of our lack of facility issue. This is where searching on YouTube and Google will help the most. Thanks to the internet, we have access to so much information on exercising it helps takes the guess work out for us. I have listed a few ideas to get you started.

Ideas for home fitness

  1. Walk the stairs to get your heart rate up. Combine it with step taps, step ups, step jumps, split squats and calf raises. Perform 20 reps each, and you will be on your way to a nice body weight workout.
  2. Hold a 1-minute plank each time the President or your governor gives a news update to have a little fun while watching. Use the question and answer session to challenge yourself to plank up when the press in asking questions and plank down when the question is answered. Trust me it will have your abs burning!
  3. Have a dance party during Frozen 2 songs. If you have kids, they will love it! (Personally I’m over it.)
  4. Do push-ups, crunches and glute-ham bridges between Netflix episodes. Challenge yourself to get in 5 minutes of activity between shows because some series you just can’t turn off.
  5. Invest in online or virtual workouts.
  6. For family fitness, set up an obstacle course with agility ladders (use sidewalk chalk if you do not have a ladder), cones or barriers to run around, over or under. Make it competitive, and time it for all your family members to perform and enjoy!

Whatever your goals are, you can make fitness enjoyable and intense just by having a little creativity and making your fitness a priority. Keeping our health a priority will help us deal with our social barriers and the anxiety that can come with it during this time of unfortunate circumstances. Remember: Be healthy, be safe and be active!


Tom Belmaggio, MS, ATC, CSCS

Tom is the coordinator of sports medicine at the Marshall Sports Medicine Institute. Career highlights include serving as head athletic trainer for Marshall University, an intern for the Dallas Cowboys Football Club, a game day EMS crew for the Tennessee Titans and an athletic trainer for the New England Patriots.