Work out from home with tips from fitness professionals

Some of the comforts we can cling to during the global coronavirus crisis include snacks and sweatpants, but don’t let extra pounds creep up on you during quarantine by implementing some practical WOFH advice.

By Alyssa Morlacci | @alyssamorlacci

March 20, 2020


If you’re wearing an elastic waistband right now, you’re not alone. As millions are told to work from home in a national effort to slow the contagious spread of COVID-19, usual business attire has been traded for the daily donning of athleisure — even if, in many cases, we’re not wearing it with the intention of actually working out.

This week, multiple US states including New York, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania imposed tough measures to shut down “non-essential” businesses, which include gyms — a last-ditch effort to combat the coronavirus’ lethal spread. Doing so has deprived millions of access to workout classes and equipment, and one-on-one training sessions.

A trainer in Spain leads multiple apartment dwellers in doing jumping jacks on their balconies—maintaining the rules of social distancing without sacrificing the energy people share when working out with one another.


As the country learns how to WFH, people are navigating the challenge of learning to work out from home, too. “I think people have a tendency to complicate working out, and it’s literally about moving,” says Manning Sumner, 42, CEO and president of Legacy Fit, a chain of gyms which closed down six locations in Florida on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, fitness companies are doing their best to keep their clients moving, even if it means shifting classes online. This week, OrangeTheory Fitness launched At-Home Workouts so members and nonmembers can take virtual classes for free every day until all of the studios reopen. Yoga Joint will release 10 new Online Classes this weekend, free for anyone to access.

The good news is that, according to experts, there are still plenty of other ways to get your blood pumping from home. Here to inspire us are three fitness professionals with tips for starting, and sticking to, a workout regimen that’s quarantine-ready.

  • Put yourself on a schedule. Since her studios closed on Wednesday to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Paige Held, founder and co-owner of Yoga Joint, has started each day by doing guided meditations on Spotify or using the app Calm with her 13-year-old daughter. “People need predictability and consistency in their lives, because what we do with our time every day does make up our entire life,” says the 41-year-old resident of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While Held says it’s been important for her to implement some structure for her family, she’s also allowing herself some grace: “We don’t have to be rigid; we don’t have to be harsh on ourselves at this time. Do your meditation, do your workout, take advantage of [exercises on] social media, apps, go for a walk, do something for your brain.”

  • Set small goals. Held, who’s been practicing for 20-plus years, says even taking deep, conscious breaths while lying in bed counts as yoga. “Doing a few poses, if you take 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and you do three or four yoga poses that you can get online, that can be what you’ve done for the day,” she suggests. Incorporating a few of these movements during the day can help unleash yoga’s many benefits, like a release of dopamine and oxytocin, and reduced cortisol levels.

  • Take advantage of apps/social media. Utilize free online resources like fitness apps and social media influencers who are providing virtual workouts — that’s the advice that Manning Summer of Legacy Fit is giving to his members. Plus, he says, inspire your online community by sharing your own workouts on social media. “The more we share and the more we uplift people, you also benefit from that,” he says. “So, if you find something that worked for you, share it.”

  • Improvise when necessary. “Stop focusing on what we can’t do, and focus on what we can do,” Sumner tells his clients — and other trainers like OrangeTheory fitness coach and former NFL player David Hinds agree. If it’s still possible to pick up equipment from a local fitness store like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Hinds suggests buying a 10- to 20-pound resistance band, a mat, some 10- to 15-pound dumbbells, and a medicine ball. However, if stores in your area have already closed, the 30-year-old Fort Lauderdale trainer recommends makeshift equipment: Gallons of milk or water jugs can easily substitute for dumbbells, and a melon can fill in for a medicine ball. Some other fitness equipment hacks include putting two chairs together in order to do incline pushups or dips, or using a stool to do step-ups or high knees. “All you need for the idea of exercise is to move—and some music,” he says.

  • Reframe your mindset to see isolation as an opportunity. For Sumner, the quarantine might be a chance to adopt new routines you’ve always wanted to implement, like reading more frequently, working out for 30 minutes per day, drinking more water, or limiting time in front of the TV. Held also notes that it’s a perfect time to reflect on healthy habits, even after we emerge from social distancing. “If this is teaching us anything right now, it’s to be healthy—and it isn’t just what we eat,” she says. “It’s about sleep, exercise, and who we surround ourselves with.”

Above all, embrace this time and toss out old conventions around physical fitness, experts say, whether that means dancing around your living room or doing 100 squats. “This is really a wakeup call,” Sumner says, “so, instead of making it worse by eating junk food and watching TV, be intentional with this time.”