While I’ve never really been a fan of working out at home, of all my relationships in life, my relationship with the gym has (mostly) been one that’s happy and thriving. We’ve had our ups and downs, but honestly, I’ve never had much to complain about.
That is, until the pandemic hit.
I was an athlete in high school, then got into a good groove with exercise in college and packed my schedule with group fitness classes that I looked forward to every day to blow off steam. After graduation, I became what the Dance Moms moms would have labeled as a “studio hopper.” I tried out memberships at just about every fitness class you can think of, from yoga to barre to Orange Theory. I always was consistent about supplementing the classes I took with running, but never realized how much I relied on the atmosphere of a class to push me until it was taken away from me, and I was left with a corner of my apartment, my yoga mat, and a brain scrambling to find a crumb of motivation.
Over the past 15 months, I’ve tried everything I could think of to get into habits that gave me a consistent, fun workout routine, and with a little trial and a lot of error, I can honestly say I’m so happy with my routine that I don’t see myself going back to classes or the gym any time soon. Here’s what I learned, and why it’s changed my mind about working out at home:
1. I came up with a schedule that works best for me
Much to my dismay, I am very much a person who works out best in the morning, which is the opposite of what I want as I am very much not a morning person. But over the past year, I’ve found that waking up and moving before I start work completely changes my day, and for that, it’s worth getting out of bed a couple of hours earlier than I’d prefer.
When you’re taking classes, you’re bound to a schedule that the studio you go to creates. There are usually one or two morning classes at the crack of dawn, and if they’re filled up, you’re pretty much out of luck. Quickly into the pandemic, I realized how nice it was to have my workouts completely on my own schedule. I didn’t need to be up as early as some studios’ schedules forced me to be and I figured out a time that works best for me. The best part? If I oversleep, I don’t get fined for not showing up to class and can work out on my lunch break instead.
2. I took care of my body in new ways
My primary workout is running, but for me, that’s always come with a lot of aches and pains. With nothing else to do this year, I vowed that I’d prioritize stretching and taking care of my body to get it in in a place where pain was no longer a factor.
Equilibria’s Relief Balm has been a long-time favorite of our editors, as it’s loaded with CBD that helps target achy joints, cramps, and soreness (our wellness editor swears by it to help her period cramps). After some particularly painful runs in the shin department, I put the creams from my knees down to my ankles, and worked it in by massaging my calves with my gua sha. The next day, I felt like I had teleported out of my body and into a new, fresh one of someone with the pain-free shins of a 10-year-old. It made such a world of difference that it’s now a part of my weekly routine, and two nights of my week are dedicated to my Relief Balm and gua sha duo.
If you’re new to the Relief Balm, you can use it anywhere you’re feeling discomfort, be it from soreness from a tough workout or aches from pushing yourself a little too hard. While I mainly use it on my shins, I also slather it on my knees after a particularly tough run, and then rub it onto any places that feel tired and in need of a little TLC.
3. I got outside
Sure, it isn’t always possible to get outside, especially considering that I live in finicky Chicago, but any time it’s even remotely possible, I do. When the alternative was my living room in the five feet between my couch and dining table, I bundled up and got outside to exercise in ways I never would have in ordinary times.
If exercising makes me feel twice as good, exercising outside makes me feel double even that. The fresh air and joys of being outside for my workouts made me never want to enter the alternative of a sweat-filled, humid gym again for the rest of my days.
4. I found extra guidance
If there’s one thing that fitness classes offer, it’s a dose of motivation that you might not be able to find without a room filled with other people and an instructor telling you exactly what to do.
Last summer, I stumbled upon guided runs on Spotify, and when I say that my life has done a 180 since, I mean it. I’ve always been a music-blasting-the-entirety-of-my-workout girl, but being coached through my runs through my headphones left me feeling a calm and peace afterward that I didn’t even know I could, not to mention that it gave me accountability and motivation that’s hard to find when it’s just you trying to run. Rather than messing with my music the entirety of my runs, I found myself easing into them in a way that felt almost like meditation. Be it on Spotify or through fitness apps, guided runs are, in my opinion, the key to becoming a runner in adulthood and they give me all of the encouragement that classes used to.
5. I found joys in the solidarity
After I initially mourned the loss of my beloved boutique fitness classes, I learned that there were a lot of benefits of working out alone that I didn’t realize before.
When you’re in a class, trying a new move that you know is going to take a few tries to master can feel intimidating; at home, I found myself doing things that I would have thought twice about before, like yoga poses I knew I didn’t have down just yet and would have modified if I was in a studio.
As someone whose brain never takes a second to breathe, my solo workouts have turned into a time that’s just me and my body, where my thoughts take the back seat to what I’m doing physically. I’ve found such a comfort in being able to do workouts that are on my own, and it’s made me come to terms with—and even enjoy—not doing them around other people.
This post is sponsored by Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.