Best shape EVER!!!! Snow flurries.
December 3, 2015 9:17 AM   Subscribe

I am looking to get the healthiest I have ever been. I am specifically looking for workout assistance. I am absolutely not looking for any diet advice. My schedule is a little weird and my anxiety over being around others while working out is also a little weird, but I'm also open to many new things. Snowflakes....

1. I want to get strong. I love being strong and right now I'm not at my peak at all.
2. I could use a cardio routine as well, since my endurance is lower than I'd like right now.
3. I leave for work at 5 a.m. and get home at around 3:30 p.m. While I have tried going to the gym at 4 a.m., it hasn't really worked for me. I rarely have "must do" activities after work. No kids. One very happy dog that gets walked daily.
4. Gyms in my area are packed after 3 p.m. (L.A., the city that never works) and I'm not really willing to work out after work at a gym and I'm not super enthused about classes either.
5. I don't have a DVD player at home.
6. I don't know how to ride a bike. Really. And I'm probably not going to start learning now.
7. I enjoy outdoor activity and am perfectly happy outside, especially doing hard work.
8. I live in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, so today it's going to be a high of 74 in my area.
9. I love a routine, something that happens every Monday, Wed., Friday; i.e., regularly.
10. I'm a bit afraid of Crossfit as I feel like most trainers have no freaking idea what they're doing and picking stuff up and throwing it as far as possible is a great way to fuck up my back.

I could use some ideas. Fun ideas, crazy ideas, out of the box ideas. Go to it MetaFilter!!!

Please no diet advice at all. I'm in recovery for an eating disorder and I eat what I eat. Period.
posted by Sophie1 to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Nothing has done more for my own self-esteem (and strength) and that of my clients as bodyweight exercises, including getting all flexible with yoga.
There's something so empowering about being able to lift your own damn body, so to speak.
Maybe design your own little boot camp, where you hit the Valley, do some brisk walking with interruptions of pushups, situps, squats, sun salutations and planks? After about an hour of that, you should be pretty tuckered out.

Wear something olive drab or camouflage for the full effect!
Have fun!
That part is SO IMPORTANT.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

If you have steep hills around where you are, just walking up and down inclines as fast as you can may be good cardio.

I personally shout the praises of exercising in the wee hours because it leaves me blissfully free from having to encounter other humans while working out, but I see that you say it hasn't really worked for you.
posted by XMLicious at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I actually really like the app Sworkit (I ponied up for the Pro version; it was $3.99. There's also a lite free version). It gives you a variety of bodyweight exercises that you do for a minute or 30 seconds or whatever in a random order. I play my own music.
posted by purpleclover at 9:35 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Spending 20-30 minutes a day with something like the Yoga Deck could be good. I like it because it's analog and you can randomize it and/or create specific sequences and routines. Lots of poses, done repetitively, can be done as cardio too.
posted by witchen at 9:40 AM on December 3, 2015

If you have a tablet, smartphone, or laptop there are many many ways to do videos (apps, youtube, purchased/downloaded from iTunes, Amazon, Gaiam) that you can take anywhere you can throw down a mat.

For bodyweight exercises, I have tried The Betty Rocker's free 30-day bodyweight series, which was challenging.

I have a couple of yoga video downloads from Gaiam (Rodney Yee's Yoga for Back Care is a great great video, sadly they do not have his Abs Yoga video available) that I bought to replace old beloved VCR and DVDs, and I have just this week download their Yoga Studio app to try out. Most of their DVD purchases get you a free download, but they also have some of their videos on iTunes and Amazon video.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:51 AM on December 3, 2015

I started a boot camp that was pretty serious when I was 50, having never run before and having previously been either doing workout videos (in the 90s) or being entirely gym-bound (in the 00's). I Fucking LOVED it. I know you're scared of crossfit, and I am too, but if you yelp around for a good boot camp, I recommend it. I hated the very idea of group workouts. I was old. I was in barely okay shape. But I was motivated. And the people were awesome and I ended up feeling amazing about myself.

Absent bootcamp, my go-to is: (i) running (which I can't do much of any more for intermittent physical problems but I really keep believing it will come back) and (ii) kettlebells. I have a little routine with kettlebells that I can do at home without impact, so no noise to the apartment below. And it's kind of crazy how much good they can do and how quickly. I think it's a good idea to have a trainer get you started so that you know that your form is good, but you can do quite a bit in 20 minutes at home.
posted by janey47 at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2015

For running/cardio: this! I just started it today, and I felt kinda silly but it was a blast. Twelve minutes altogether, can you believe it? You can definitely fit it in.

I am also really, really into the idea of trying Starting Strength: the careful measure/improvement aspect of it, the idea that you're doing the same workout as all the muscleheads at the gym, and if you keep going at a slow but steady pace you might eventually overtake them. I know you said you don't want the gym, but if you wanted to make an investment, you could probably buy a cheap set of barbells to start out and then upgrade to a home weights set?
posted by pretentious illiterate at 10:03 AM on December 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have tried a lot of different things over the last 15 years and the constants that matter are: 1) scheduled routine, knowing that you Do X exercise every MWF unless you are ill or have moved the exercise to another hour, and 2) enjoying it.

When I started I went to my local Y late in the late morning because I was incredibly anxious about trying to exercise (I was at least 100 pounds overweight) and it was quieter then. I alternated cardio and strength machines. I got fitter and less anxious (both in general and about being seen working out).

Eventually I moved to more popular workout times due to my schedule, and discovered that, truly, most folks aren't paying attention to other people working out. Then I moved to classes because a few people said they loved yoga, then tai chi, then boot camp, then spinning, then jump rope, then boxing, etc. I had a better track record of going with classes, because accountability helps to cement that schedule routine.

Finally, I've moved to CrossFit, and have been doing it now for more than three years. I'm still at least 50 pounds overweight, and I've gotten minor injuries a few times, but I'm also stronger and largely fitter (caveat: I need to work on mobility, because I'm middle aged and mostly gave up yoga, which was dumb) than ever. I modify a lot, and my coaches are great about helping me find things that are a good idea for my body as it is that day. With the right CrossFit gym injuries are rare.

But most importantly: what will you Actually do? Will you run? Do bodyweight stuff in the park? What sounds the most fun to you now? Try to get some HIIT, strength, and mobility in your plan if you can. Commit to doing that plan, whatever it is, and see what works for you.
posted by ldthomps at 10:04 AM on December 3, 2015

Running is kind of the ultimate default "I don't have anything, but I want to move my body a bunch" cardio activity.

I find most yoga classes a little too twee, but I've really enjoyed doing the videos on Yoga with Adriene's YouTube channel. She's got a very accepting approach to fitness and yoga. And I haven't personally tried it, but a bunch of people I know who built up some basic yoga proficiency have tried aerial yoga and loved it. I personally prefer pilates, but if you try that I'd recommend going to an actual studio with a real teacher, because form is important for benefiting from that. It regularly kicks my ass and leaves me feeling like an overcooked noodle, in a good way.

Nthing kettlebells.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 10:04 AM on December 3, 2015

I got the Gorilla Workout app a while ago and it's great. It's calisthenics and strength training with zero gear. The app starts off easy and gives you gradually harder workouts. It provides both written descriptions and a video demonstration for all of the exercises, so you can ensure that your form is correct. All you need is a pair of sneakers, a dollar (the cost of the app), and the discipline to do it.
posted by cleverevans at 10:10 AM on December 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I too have anxiety when it comes to working out in front of others and have avoided gyms and fitness classes for this reason. I shopped around for a personal trainer who would develop a program that I could do in the comfort of my own home. It took awhile, but I found a great fit. She works out of a physiotherapy clinic, and I meet with her there once a week, and then take the plan she gives me to workout 3x per week at home. I do cardio on a stationary bike, and get out for brisk walks when I can, assuming it's not too cold or icy.

She has a background in yoga and functional movement/fitness. A trainer with similar interests may be able to help you craft a workout plan that involves walks of varying intensity in your area, and suggest exercises that won't fuck up your back.
posted by nathaole at 10:19 AM on December 3, 2015

How about walking, jogging or running from ZOMBIES?!
posted by Cat Face at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Blogilates and 30 Days Challenge - Yoga With Adrienne are pretty awesome and challenging. I also recommend Sworkit Pro, the people who run the app are really nice and even offered to put together a custom workout for me, since I was feeling overwhelmed with it.
posted by yueliang at 10:50 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like using a kettlebell for at home workouts - I hate exercising outside when it's over 70ish (and I'm in LA, so that's most of the year). It is quiet, you don't need much space, and kettlebell are cheap at discount stores like Marshall's. The workouts I've done are simultaneous strength training and cardiovascular, which I like. My favorite youtube workout is fitness blenders beginner kettlebell workout - and it's very focused without any chat, which I definitely prefer.

If you prefer being outside, I'd go for some kind of bodyweight routine in a park, maybe with some hiking as well.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just do a bunch of calisthenics. It falls under the broader category of "bodyweight exercise", and that, along with Olympic weightlifting, is basically what CrossFit is, after all, underneath all the yelling and vomiting and whatnot. Pushups, pullups, situps, air squats, dips, etc. The stuff you did in gym class in fourth grade. Add a jump rope or jogging for cardio, and wrist/ankle weights for additional resistance. Most big cities have parks with some things like pull-up bars or parallel bars if you'd like to work out outdoors. The biggest benefit of calisthenics is that you can do them anywhere, though. Inside, outside, wherever. It's a very flexible program, which makes it very easy to stick to.

If you'd like some guidance, search for Al Kavadlo or GMB. Both should give you good ideas.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:51 AM on December 3, 2015

10. I'm a bit afraid of Crossfit as I feel like most trainers have no freaking idea what they're doing and picking stuff up and throwing it as far as possible is a great way to fuck up my back.

If you'd like to try CrossFit, but it's just your fear of a trainer-bro ruining your back, check out Mike Devaney at Crossfit Darkhorse on Van Nuys and Burbank. Mike is super cool and knowledgeable guy who takes joy in getting people into shape. He also is very good at making sure everyone is only doing what's good for their level, while at the same time creating a team environment where no one feels like they are super terrible in comparison with others.
posted by sideshow at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2015

Don't be taken aback by the name, but I seriously love Kayla Itsine's Bikini Body Guide ( . Kayla's whole take on a bikini body is a body that you feel comfortable in. It's a 12 week workout guide that lays everything out.

It's 30 mins every Mon/Wed/Fri for strength training/calisthenics and then for cardio, you get options.

I think it's about $70 and you don't need a gym to do it. Most of the girls who do it do so at home. There is a large instagram community that does it (search #bbg if you are into that kinda stuff). Feel free to message me if you have specific questions about it :)
posted by whitetigereyes at 12:41 PM on December 3, 2015

If daily is not too much of a routine for you, you might love The Daily Burn:

I'm doing their True Beginner program right now and find it very positive and motivating. A good mix of core/strength building and cardio. It's 14.95/month, which feels like a steal for how well it suits me.
posted by missmobtown at 6:44 PM on December 3, 2015

Barre3 online is $15/month and a great way to supplement your outdoor time. I started a little over a week ago and my booty is burning!
posted by gertrude at 9:15 PM on December 3, 2015

You should flex on 4b, classes really help with 4a, 5, and 9. Even one class a week to give you some structure for the rest of your exercise. (You could totally do spin. No need to know how to actually ride a bike, the instructor will help you adjust it and there is no balancing. Just put your feet on the peddles and push.)
posted by anaelith at 4:44 AM on December 4, 2015

I wouldn't rule out biking. I learned at age 34, wasn't crazy about it, then picked it up again a decade later -- and now I love it & bike my kid to school every day. There can be joy in trying something new to break yourself out of the same old patterns.
posted by judith at 5:53 AM on December 4, 2015

What about rock climbing? It'll work your arms and legs A LOT and there can be an element of cardio.
posted by Brittanie at 5:15 AM on December 5, 2015

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