Fit Tip: Substitute Workouts

Posted On Feb 2, 2021 By Tom Holland

A person using the Explore the World app while using their Bowflex treadmill.

By now it’s become abundantly clear that COVID has changed our lives in myriad ways, including the ways in which we work out. We have been forced to adapt, whether we want to or not. Depending on where you live you might not be able to take your favorite group exercise class, to swim in your favorite pool, or to simply go lift weights at your local gym.

When it comes to exercise, this poses a unique challenge. Many find it extremely difficult to commit to a regular routine in the first place so, once you have finally found something that you truly enjoy, it can be extremely frustrating to have it suddenly taken away. You may feel like you have to start completely over, that all the work you have done is for naught, and this will prevent some from starting back at all.

I completely understand this well-founded frustration. You discovered something fun and rewarding that you enjoyed doing, oftentimes on a regular basis, and you no longer have that healthy outlet. Add in the additional stressors that come with a worldwide pandemic and the effects can be overwhelming, both mentally and physically.

The good news is that there are numerous options, other ways for you to get in that workout until you can get back into your normal routine. The goal right now is to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot, finding new ways to get those feel-good hormones flowing and keep your body moving. For example:

Swimming: Are you a swimmer whose local pool is temporarily closed? Walking is a great alternative, providing a similar low-impact form of exercise that will strengthen your heart and help clear your mind as well.

Yoga: If you are unable to take your favorite yoga class in person, consider practicing meditation at home in the meantime. Meditation will allow you to continue to work on things such as mindfulness, stress-reduction, focus and breathwork.

Racing: If you are someone who loved to participate in organized races including running, cycling, triathlon, Spartan races and the like, the lack of these events can seriously affect your motivation to exercise. Two temporary alternatives include either participating in the numerous new “virtual” race options or even creating your own challenging events, ones you can do by yourself or with others.

Indoor cyclists.

Gym Workouts: If you are still unable to go to the gym for your strength workouts and don’t have the equipment you need at home, consider trying out the numerous bodyweight-only workouts available online. Many are free, including those on the Bowflex YouTube page, and you can still get in a great full-body workout with no equipment whatsoever. Variation is one of the main keys to success in your strength routine and there is nothing like doing a non-stop sweaty circuit consisting of push-ups, planks, burpees and more.

Remember that, while change is indeed challenging, it is exactly what allows us to grow. Embrace a new form of exercise until you can get back to your regular routine. If you do so, when life returns to normal (and it will) you will be even stronger, both in body and in mind.


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A woman performing a plank.