How to Adopt an At-Home Workout Routine

As an avid gym-goer and group fitness class participant, I was addicted to the fancy equipment, loud music, elaborate lighting and accompanying cheerleaders that came with a 6 am sweat session at my local studio.  

In Chicago and other major cities, classes are at your disposal – around every corner is a studio with classes running from 5 am to 8 pm so there was no excuse not to make it to the gym. And, my argument for the dollars spent on fitness classes and gym memberships was, “it’s for my health,” deeming it an excusable expense that didn’t require a budget.

I had an abrupt reality check once my day job changed about a year ago and I had to adopt completely new workout habits – namely, working out at home.

At first, I was averse to the idea of working out at home. I thought it was weird to work out on carpet and sweat in my living room. I never felt like the intensity of the workout was as good as a workout I’d get in class. The yogi in me always complained about at home yoga because it’s not a heated studio. My list of excuses could go on. 

It took months of trying, failing and feeling unmotivated and outright defeated about my new routine before I got into a groove. Over time, though, I got to a place where I enjoy working out at home – I sometimes even prefer it.

These are the strategies I learned to go from strictly gym rat to an at-home workout junkie.

at-home workout routine

First, reframe your perspective. 

Once I was open to the idea of changing up my routine and stopped thinking about what I was missing, I noticed more upsides to an at-home workout routine. For me, those include:

  • A warm cup of coffee by my side for every sweat session
  • If I’m in the flow of a workout, I can keep going; class doesn’t need to end just because an hour is up
  • If I don’t have a ton of time but want to do something, I can still get my workout in for however long will fit my schedule
  • I’m more consistent when traveling – it’s no different working out in my hotel room than my basement
  • I have the flexibility to do what I want and need, particularly around an injury or goal

In reframing your perspective, recognize that your workouts might feel very different. Your motivating factors might have to shift. If you feel that extra burst of energy with lights beaming down on you or a trainer in your face pushing you to the last rep, brainstorm what else will do the trick.

Then, set yourself up for success.

Conquer boredom or distaste of working out at home by easing your transition from the studio to your living room using these tips to guide you.

1. Define your space

I define my space with a yoga mat.  I identified a corner of my house that I can walk “into” and roll out my mat. It simulates the idea that I arrived and am here to work out.

Keep your space set up with the essentials for your workouts. Next to my mat I keep two sets of dumbbells, resistance bands, a yoga block and my wireless headphones.

2. Create a routine as if you’re going to leave the house

Just like you would when physically going to the gym, create a routine that makes the effort of getting to your workout mindless. Previously, I had a very specific routine of popping out of bed, drinking water, brushing my teeth and getting dressed in order to make it out the door for class on time. Do the same thing! This requires a lot of self discipline – more than just showing up for a class.

Tell yourself, “My workout starts at 6 am.” Then, make sure you leave enough time to wake up and get ready ahead of your workout.

3. Set a goal

When working out at home without a class schedule helping to guide your every move, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with questions and doubts such as, “What should I do today?” or “Is this a good workout?” or even, “Did that workout event count? I didn’t really sweat…”

Think about what goals you want to achieve and then make a plan that will help you achieve them. I wanted to build strength, particularly in my lower body (in prep for running and race season) and maintain a steady cardio routine. Once I had a goal to work towards, my workouts felt more gratifying because I was building towards something and not just doing random exercises and calling it a day.

4. Find tools to help you with your goal 

It took me a while to find the balance of tools that would help shape my actual routine. Thanks to SweatWorking, I’ve been participating in a Long and Lean four-week program to help build strength, supplemented with bike trainer rides and runs outside.

I found that going all in on one workout program or app led to burnout, but when I was riding my bike and doing random strength exercises the routine got old. Following a combo of strength and cardio keeps me engaged and provides the workout intensity I need to achieve results. Come triathlon race season, I rely on Training Peaks for my race training programs.

5. Disconnect

Disconnecting from my cell phone has been one of the harder challenges in working out at home and one of the benefits I loved about going to class. It was a guaranteed hour that I didn’t look or care about what was happening with my phone.  

Many of the workout apps and programs I follow at home require me to use my phone which also means I can see every text message, call and email that comes through during my sweat session. In order to avoid this, turn your phone on airplane mode and remind yourself that if you were in the middle of a yoga class, you wouldn’t be looking at your phone so don’t look at it now.

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About Kelly Molnar

A marketing manager by day, Kelly Magnus has serious passion for keeping active. Kelly believes in making fitness fun by sweating with friends at events like #Sweatworking, or morning run meet-ups. Aside from her day job, she’s an age-group triathlete having completed sprint to half-iron distance races. She’s also a yoga instructor and you can find her teaching strength classes at Studio Three in Chicago. Kelly's hope is that her writing on aSweatLife inspires everyone, no matter their fitness level, to get moving. Kelly is from Wisconsin and attended the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.