If you happened to glimpse through my living room window at 7:30 a.m. on a recent windy, rainy Tuesday, you would have been treated to quite the sight.
There I was with a YouTube aerobics dance video projected up on the wall. I clumsily tried to keep up with the athleisure-clad instructor from Australia and her squad of grinning yes-women.
I was wearing an old T-shirt and shorts. I abandoned my athletic footwear (Crocs) to the corner of the room and danced on the carpet in my socks. I had a hard time remembering each move and I’m not known for my rhythm, but I figured as long as I kept hopping I was at least keeping my heart rate up.
It was not fun, exactly, but it was certainly better than nothing.
These days, at the peak of Alaska winter darkness, it can be hard to motivate to get outside. Add winter storms and periodic thaws, and some days Alaska’s outdoors is not exactly enticing.
In pre-pandemic days I would sometimes spring for month-to-month gym memberships to get me through a long winter or breakup. But for obvious reasons, right now you will not find me within breathing distance of others.
What’s a house-bound Alaskan to do?
Throw aside all dignity and crank up the music, of course.
Here are my go-to’s for at-home workouts:
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
I like HIIT. I also despise HIIT.
The upside: The workouts tend to be quick and high intensity, so I know I’m getting something out of them and they’re over relatively quickly. The downside: It often feels so intense I think it may never end.
There are many free at home HIIT workouts available via a quick Google search, and there are countless paid programs — either guided videos or exercise placards with guidance.
Like any high intensity workout, nail the form before you add speed to prevent injury.
There’s no way any of us mere mortals can keep up with the athleisure Australians on the internet, so don’t try. Keep good form, keep moving, and know the difference between pushing yourself and pain.
A good go-to is the New York Times’ Seven-Minute Workout. There’s even an app. You can complete the workout once, in seven minutes, or as many times as you need or are able to do. (This is also an excellent quick hotel room go-to, because it requires no equipment.)
I’m of the belief that something is better than nothing when it comes to strength training.
Do we have all of the fancy gear at home? The mats, the machines, the metallic-smelling series of free weights? No. We have a few things — a couple of free weights and a yoga mat.
We also have a step-stool (triceps dips, raised pushups, step-ups), chairs (the same), and plenty of wall space (wall sits). Squats, lunges, mountain climbers, sit-ups and more require zero equipment.
I like to write out a series of exercises, starting with a warmup, put on a podcast and complete the circuit. Often I’ll complete three rounds of two sets of three exercises, which takes about 30 minutes.
There are plenty of at-home bodyweight strength circuits available online, complete with photos and brief video tutorials.
Sometime early in the pandemic, I spotted my husband in our office. His laptop was open on the desk, his feet and hands on the floor and his butt was up in the air.
What was he doing? Why, yoga, of course.
Yoga With Adriene has been a shining star for many throughout the pandemic. My husband and his daughter had remote yoga dates, which is what I stumbled onto. Friends do the 30-day challenge, which removes choosing which class to take on any given day even if you skip some.
I’m not a yogi. I’ve barely heard of a “stretch” (I can hear various friends yelling at me). But I can see why taking time to focus on strengthening and healing movement and breath would feel really good right about now.
Raining? Snowy? Dark? It’s not always pleasant outside, but I need to do something physical every day just to keep myself from being a Grinch. There are plenty of creative, in-home options to keep me active, even if I feel and look a little silly.
A Tuesday at 7:30 a.m.? Aerobic dance party in the living room. Why not?
Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and plays in Southcentral Alaska.