Home Fitness Trend Continues with Pandemic

One advantage of working out at home? “You don’t need any equipment,” says an orthopedic surgeon

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

As ever-changing pandemic guidelines persist, many people have turned to working out at home.

Many gyms have limited the number of people at their facilities to prevent crowds and some people do not feel comfortable with exercising at a gym. Winter weather can also make getting to the gym difficult. That is why it can be important to develop a back-up means of working out at home.

“It’s always a challenge in the winter,” said Brain DeLuca, director of impact sports performance at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Cheektowaga. “COVID has exploited some of those challenges.”

He said that home fitness equipment has become very popular, including the trendy Peloton bike, which offers accompanying content via its app. Peloton connects users, “offering a sense of community,” DeLuca said.

Virtual workouts with a trainer are also popular, as these allow participants to sweat at home under the guidance of a professional for optimal safety and results. While not the same as the in-person session, virtual workouts provides both assistance and motivation, elements lacking in many home workouts.

DeLuca also encourages making a goal to build in accountability.

“Maybe train for something in the spring like running a 5K or starting something new,” he said.

Nick Valente, orthopedic surgeon with Genesee Orthopaedics in Batavia, recommends seeking outdoor activity if possible, like cross-country skiing.

“It’s low impact and is a total body workout,” Valente said. “It’s a good way to start. You can ease into it without a lot of impact on your joints.”

When the weather is bad, he recommends low impact aerobics like jumping jacks, pushups, situps and body weight exercises like squats and planks. Yoga can also work well at home using online videos.

“You don’t need any equipment,” Valente said. “It’s a moderate aerobic workout and good for maintaining flexibility.”

Body weight exercises also reduce risk of injury.

If you have no weights at home, you do not need to splurge on an expensive weight bench or even dumbbells. Katie Vaughn, who earned master’s in nutrition and dietetics from D’Youville College, recommends looking around the house for weights such as cans, bottles or filling up different sized water jugs in lieu of weights.

“You can add sand — dry or wet — or rocks to different containers” to use as inexpensive weights, she said.

Vaughn is board-certified in sports dietetics, certified functional strength coach and owner of Katie Vaughn Nutrition in Rochester.

For those with the means and desire to invest in fitness tools, Vaughn likes multifunctional equipment.

“You can add versatility to workouts, while working a wide variety of muscle groups at once,” she said.

She suggested items such as TRX bands, foam roller for body stretching and mobility, stability ball, medicine ball, resistance bands, sliding discs or Valslides to use underfoot, multi-grip pullup bar, or a regular or weighted jump rope.

One of the big pitfalls of working out at home is the temptation to skip or shorten workouts. To counteract this effect, Vaughn offers the following tips:

1. “Create an exercise schedule at the beginning of each week.

2. Share your schedule with your family or with a friend.

3. Have a friend join you virtually.

4. Take a class with group.

5. Designate a workout area in your house or garage.

6. Keep exercise equipment in plain view as a reminder, i.e. the yoga mat next to the bed for early morning stretches.”

In addition, laying out or wearing to bed your workout clothing may serve as an easier segue into a morning workout session.