"I'm scared of facing life without the gym!"
That's what a friend texted me last week — before the-virus-that-shall-not-be named shuttered gyms across Sydney and much of the country. For us fitness addicts, the prospect of months without the gym is almost as dire as a global pandemic.
The good news is you really don't need a gym to stay fit, healthy and strong. Yes, you'll have to massively adjust your fitness routine, and that in turn will change your goals and your body. You're probably going to some of those hard-earned gains, while adding a bit of fat. But there are worse things.
Here's three ways to stay healthy in these crazy times.
Buy a resistance band and tube
The former looks like a giant rubber band, the latter like a stretchy tube with handles on both ends, and they are the best bits of fitness kit you can own. Even if you're deprived of a full set of dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, a resistance band and tube can keep your muscles pumped.
"Resistance training doesn't have to be weight training — it is simply any kind of exercise where you are working against a resistance," points out Sam Wood, the longtime trainer behind the health program 28 by Sam Wood (oh, and you might also know him from a minor reality TV show.)
If you can no longer get to the shops to buy a band and tube (or if they're sold out), Wood recommends using the weight of your own body to charge up your resistance workout.
"Ideally we move our body every single day," he says. "That doesn't mean you have to do a high-intensity workout every single day — I would recommend three to four more challenging workouts per week, and a stretch or at-home yoga to balance it out."
Use the internet — wisely
The internet isn't just good for piping Netflix and Stan into your home during lockdown. A few seconds of Googling turns up unlimited fitness resources: Wood is currently running free online live workouts, Chris Hemsworth's fitness app Centr has extended its free trial period to six weeks (Fitness First members get three months' free access), and F45 is providing its members with bodyweight workouts to do at home.
YouTube overflows with free full-length workouts, and Instagram's trainers are all running sessions that don't require any special equipment. The usual caveat applies: follow the online PTs who have actual qualifications and experience, not just the ones who have a lot of followers and/are really ridiculously good-looking.
Watch your diet
I admit: I'm really not practising what I preach here, because last Monday I stockpiled a week's worth of quarantine snacks that I literally finished by Tuesday afternoon. Working from home should more accurately be called Eating from home while also occasionally working in between snacks.
Wood recommends aiming to eat three quality meals a day made from minimally processed ingredients.
"Ensuring you eat enough quality protein and good fats will definitely curb the cravings and make you less hungry," he adds. "It's also really important that you stay hydrated."
That advice may not be enough to stop you eating a whole packet of Tim Tams as you anxiously read today's headlines.
"If you can't beat the temptation, it may simply be a matter of removing the foods from an easily accessible part of the house," Wood says.
And though it's not a health tip, please...
Support the Australian fitness industry
It employs tens of thousands of people who are now facing very tough times. If you're privileged enough to spare the cash, drop it on a local trainer's online program or pay for their workout advice.
20-minute at-home workout
No equipment needed, other than an interval timer app on your phone: Set it to do two 30-second rounds of work, followed by a 20-second break, and repeat that cycle five times. In the 30-second work intervals, do these exercises:
- A1: Seal jacks
- A2: Stepping OR jumping lunges
- B1: Push-ups (on knees OR toes)
- B2: Bodyweight squats OR squat jumps
- C1: Mountain climbers
- C2: Switch climbers
- D1: Frog squats
- D2: Side lunges
- E1: Low-impact burpees OR burpees
- E2: March on the spot OR high-knee sprint
Repeat that circuit for a 20-minute workout.
According to Sam Downing, the secret to wellbeing is just to keep it simple. A qualified personal trainer, fitness instructor and nutrition coach, Sam is also a writer focusing on everyday health.
Follow him on Twitter.