While sheltering-in-place can limit our options for physical fitness, it is not a closed door when it comes to building strength and maintaining good health.
Whether working out every day, or thinking now is the time to start, reaching fitness goals without spending a dime is possible even in the time of COVID-19.
Taking the first step
Brian DeCarli, a longtime advocate for physical fitness, health, and wellness, teaches physical education at San Benito High School and has worked with students of all fitness levels for 13 years.
DeCarli spoke of how starting or continuing a fitness routine during these uncertain times is a way to create balance.
“Being physically active allows us a positive and healthy outlet to work out all of the stresses that life is throwing our way,” DeCarli said.
He stressed that people just starting out should listen to their bodies and focus more on form and building endurance, rather than trying to push too far too fast.
“Do less, but do it right,” DiCarli said. “The more fatigued the body gets, the more it forms breakdowns which can lead to injury. Build yourself up, don’t overtrain, and most importantly practice good nutrition. They go hand in hand.”
DeCarli recommended 15 minutes of continuous work, mixing cardio with strength training. Start with cardio and a set of exercises such as 120 jumping jacks, or two minutes of cardio followed by 20 sit-ups and 20 air squats. Repeat the circuit four times, and log the total time it takes to complete the entire circuit. As a person progresses, they can use the logs to challenge themselves to best their previous time.
For those further along in their fitness journey, DeCarli suggested adding more exercises into their training routine. Workouts to do at home that don’t require equipment include body weight squats, scaled/elevated push-ups, wall sits, planks, lunges, tricep dips and curls.
“Know your body,” DeCarli said. “You always want to leave something in the tank.”
Taking a well-rounded approach
Mary Margaret Lanning is the creator and owner of Overall Fitness and Nutrition in Hollister. She is a certified personal trainer, clinical medical assistant and nutrition consultant, and has worked with clients to optimize their health for over two decades.
When approaching fitness, Lanning stressed a three-step approach to overall health: strength training, cardio conditioning, and proper nutrition.
“Mentally and physically it is a necessity to keep our muscles, heart and brain strengthened,” she said. “This is a good time to reset and be aware of what needs to change and make some changes.”
Like DeCarli, Lanning recommended starting slowly when beginning to exercise and making a commitment to the fitness journey.
“You have to get your shoes on and your clothes on and just start, even if it is just five minutes,” she said. “Pretty soon five minutes turns into 10 minutes, which turns into ‘I can do this a little longer.’”
To get the body moving, Lanning recommended cardio exercises such as jumping jacks, running in place, and jumping rope. If able to go outside and adhere to social distancing standards, there’s also rollerblading or walking.
By rotating a minute of high-intensity cardio followed by a minute of strength training, Lanning said a person can get a quality workout in 40-45 minutes.
Stretching should not be used as a warm-up before working out, she said.
“You want to warm up first with maybe three to 10 minutes of cardio. Once your heart rate is up that means your muscles are warmer.”
For strength training, Lanning mentioned at-home exercises using body weight as resistance, or by incorporating a household item.
“You can use cans or jugs for dumbbells,” Lanning said. “You can use table tops for pushups and dips. Or you can do this in a chair.”
Just as important as cardio and strength is nutrition. “We have to make sure we fuel our body,” said Lanning.
When deciding on what types of food to eat, she said a good rule of thumb is to think about what children eat to stay healthy and grow strong.
“If you would not give your child that, why would you eat that,” said Lanning. “What is good for them and a healthy choice for them is also the right choice for you.”
Lanning provided several videos demonstrating exercise techniques that can be done at home. See videos at bottom of article.
Having fun and staying positive
Carolyn Homan, who opened Live to Cycle Fitness studio in 2011, had to recently move her business online as it was deemed non-essential during the shelter-in-place order. She came up with a plan on a March 20 flight back from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
She called 15 of her most loyal customers to see if they would like to rent a bike from her and continue cycling classes online. By March 22, all bikes had been delivered and online classes started the next day.
In an attempt to reach more people, Homan teamed up with her personal trainer husband Erik to host a free virtual class every Sunday at 9 a.m. on Facebook Live.
“I wanted to make sure that I help as many people as I could to stay healthy, stay fit, and stay positive,” Homan said.
Homan described the all-ages class, a 30-minute mix of cardio and strength training, as “quick and fun.”
“I didn’t want anyone to feel that they didn’t have a place to turn to,” she said.
Homan’s formula of an upbeat, accessible fitness class is paying off. She said her video sessions are receiving 250-300 views each.
Working out “helps you forget about everything going on outside the walls at home,” she said.
BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.