Exercise for the hikikomori.
April 23, 2012 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Getting exercise in a limited space - recommendations?

I'm dreadfully, shamefully, terribly out of shape. A few years ago I could comfortably run a long time, but now, I'm winded if I run a couple blocks. I don't have any health problems that should interfere with exercising; I'm just lazy. I want to change this.

Complications: I live in an area terrible for running/biking and I don't want to go to a gym. Driving somewhere just to run is also not going to work - I won't do it. In a few months I'll be moving to a better area with great sidewalks and bike lanes, but ... I'd like to start now! I'm thinking that maybe there is some kind of exercise I can do in my apartment.

I don't have much room - maybe a 5x10 space, in front a TV where I could conceivably play a DVD. (I'm turned off by faddish exercise programs.) I'm thinking of purchasing some weights (suitable for a 5'5" 110lb woman who's just starting out) so I can do a combination of strength and cardio. But I know nothing about exercise ... when I was in better shape I just biked and ran.

What can I do? Where should I start?
posted by Kutsuwamushi to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I was in your exact situation in a Chicago efficiency apartment. I did mostly P90X, Beachbody, and Bodyrock.tv stuff. it's all sort of strength training geared toward weight loss, and when i got back to running after several months I hadn't really lost a step. All of them also have routines that are specifically cardio, and they'll all kick your ass.
posted by cmoj at 10:53 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look into prison cell workouts. Just avoid the parts about the ballpoint pen tattoos.
posted by srboisvert at 10:53 AM on April 23, 2012

I've heard good things about TRX suspension training.
posted by leigh1 at 10:54 AM on April 23, 2012

Here's everyone's favorite Dirty Worker of Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe, doing burpees. Great for beginners, great for experts.
And they are FREE.

Go for it!
posted by THAT William Mize at 10:54 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You want to check out some of the routines here. They are mostly limited-space-friendly and I think the only equipment is a pull-up bar. Skip those for now.
posted by gauche at 10:55 AM on April 23, 2012

Look up some High Intensity Training (HIT) workouts. You can do them in a small space. They are pretty uncomplicated and will force you into shape in no time. All you need is a weighted sandbag or pair of dumbbells.

Or babystep your way into shape with Kafka's favorite The Muller System.
posted by Katine at 11:03 AM on April 23, 2012

Convict Conditioning

I've used this and found it very useful - little room & almost zero equipment required.
posted by trixare4kids at 11:24 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVDs are brutal.
posted by something something at 11:34 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you already have a bike, you could buy a bike trainer (turns a regular bike into a stationary bike). Then when you're done, you can just fold up the trainer and put it under the bed, and put the bike wherever you usually keep it.
posted by miyabo at 12:07 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shovelglove is a great strength/cardio combo workout that can be done in a small-ish space. The downside is that people will ask you why you have a sledgehammer in your living room, and you do risk some minor property damage.
posted by minorcadence at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2012

I like these little workout apps. Extremely small-space friendly. These are Android, but they seem to be available for iThings too.
posted by sageleaf at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2012

Since you're 5'5" and you weigh 110 lbs would it be safe to assume that you don't want to/need to lose weight? You want to make sure that you start consuming more calories when you start exercising a lot. If it's mainly toning and flexibility you want then try yoga or pilates. Borrow DVDs from library or from friends.
posted by mareli at 12:31 PM on April 23, 2012

I asked a question about fitness a little while back, and have some suggestions from there.

Reddit has actually been surprisingly helpful. Based on lots of reading there, I've been working out of You Are Your Own Gym which should meet your needs, and it's pretty cheap too.
This Program Picker was linked off Reddit, and jives with the recommendations all over the web.
posted by piedmont at 12:38 PM on April 23, 2012

Weight loss definitely not a goal. Weight gain, in muscle, probably an eventual goal - but I mainly just want to be more fit and active. I struggle with depression, and now I'm in a good place mentally to start taking steps that will help keep it at bay.

All of the suggestions so far look very helpful. I'm checking them all out!
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:10 PM on April 23, 2012

It sounds like you have enough space for Wii fit, or this compact elliptical.
posted by tinymegalo at 2:00 PM on April 23, 2012

Boring, but it worked/works for me -- a stationary exercise bike.

I listen to music and read while doing 45 minutes on it, fwiw.
posted by bardic at 9:47 PM on April 23, 2012

You may find a kettlebell valuable in your restrictive situation. Swings and Turkish Getups are both great movements that work a respectable portion of your body. Ross Enamait's books on bodyweight exercises are worthwhile as well.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 9:51 PM on April 23, 2012

Oh - and don't go light. Pick a weight that is not too easy, and increase reps and/or weight whenever you can for maximum effectiveness.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 9:52 PM on April 23, 2012

Could you get an under-desk pedaling thing, like a MagneTrainer? You'd be surprised how much of a workout you can get while you are working.
posted by MonsieurBon at 3:06 AM on April 24, 2012

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