At home cardio - What worked for you?
May 21, 2021 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I have become aware of how not leaving an apartment for a year has killed my cardio. I would like to fix this before the fall when I can get out to my gym classes again. What has worked for you? Complications inside.

These are the complications:
1. I would like to do this indoors because it is getting hot and I don't deal well with the heat at the best of times, and also I am a woman with light skin, dark hair and if I have to shave to do the activity it's not going to happen (social expectations of women's grooming is beyond the scope of this question).

2. We have small second floor apartment, no jumping or thumping. I have some basic kettlebells and approx 1 yoga mat of floor space in the makeshift home office.

3. I want something mindless and with low barrier to entry. I've tried youtube yoga, that involves kicking partner off the TV, moving the coffee table, carpet, setting up the mats, which means it rarely happens. Kettlebells basically gets me 5 minutes of activity before I can't think of the next thing to do.

4. I want the thing to be able to go away when we need it to. It'll probably live out most of the time, but in instances when we want to 'clean up' I basically need it to be able to fit under the couch or in a cupboard.

5. Apps are welcome but as I've been basically been sitting on couch/deskchair for a year it's gotta start light and also be pre-set routines that allow for minimal space and no thumping, because if I have to choose or modify too much I'm going to think to hard and not do the thing.

6. I'm willing to spend approx $300 cad on this issue. I'm hoping someone has some recs for some quiet, foldable bike/treadmill/rower thing, but am open to anything. I know at that price range it's not going to be perfect, but it just has to be good enough to last 4 months.

I know there are a bunch of qualifications but I've spent the past year telling myself I'm going to do yoga, or go for walks in the morning/lunch/after work, or break up my day with random moments of kettlebells, and that has Not Happened. So instead of expecting me to change to the activity, I'm hoping to find the activity that will fit me.
posted by platypus of the universe to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I would suggest YouTube searching “apartment friendly cardio.” I know Blogilates has quite a few videos in that area, but she might not be your style. You will pretty much just need a mat.

If you do choose Blogilates, she tells you what to do and chitchats throughout the videos so it’s pretty mindless. I find it to be the right balance of upbeat & not too serious. If you’re sensitive to body image it might be best to look elsewhere— she seems overall encouraging but doesn’t focus specifically on body acceptance and some errant ideas slip out here and there.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:42 PM on May 21, 2021

It's a bit out of your price range ($400-500CAD), but an Oculus Quest 2 with Thrill of the Fight is an amazing cardio workout.

I have TotF on a PC VR headset, and I can vouch that it's been great for my fitness level and my actual willingness to do cardio. The no-jumping thing might be tough, as I find myself trying to throw my entire body into my punches. But that's just a self-discipline thing.

And there's a bunch of other VR stuff you can do on it as well.
posted by Hatashran at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Do you have some kind of computer screen in the home office? If so, you could do yoga-type videos there instead of in the room where you'd have to move the coffee table, etc. The screen doesn't have to be big for you to follow along.

Feel free to join me this Sunday.
posted by brainwane at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm an old living half way up a hill with a 10% slope. I love my sofa but I find a brisk walk up the hill when it stops raining has done wonders for my cardio this year. How is the stairwell in your building? Would it freak everyone out if you ran up the stairs on some sort of incremental schedule? In my last job but one the lab was four floors up and I don't do lifts and I refused to do trudge so I always ran up the stairs; which was fine so long as I didn't [puff] have to [puff] speak [puff] to anyone on landing.
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:15 PM on May 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This suggestion may suuuuper not work for you but it has turned out to be more fun and motivating for me than I expected and now, all of a sudden, thanks to this, I'm working on a couch-to-5k plan and that definitely wasn't in me even a month ago. So....

Any interest in trying out Ring Fit with the Switch? You can find this as a bundle, it will be likely over $300. The switch itself is about $300. The game plus the necessary accessories is around $80. There's an adventure game which has you basically jogging in place and doing a bunch of other exercises along with a story line. You don't think, you just fire it up, do a short warm-up stretch and then you're off. I like to continuously jog or move even when it's working through the storyline. I also have a small trampoline that I use to run on for most of the workout. There's an "apartment mode" which I think just has additional exercise without the running. I mean, it's tough to do real cardio without some jumping around, you know? But, so far, the only exercise that it does other than the jogging that "bounces" that I've encountered is high knees.

Okay, so other than the adventure game (no thinking, just going), they have other games and customizable workouts. I've finally gotten around to doing that and it's pretty cool. I made a whole sequence that starts with jogging then goes through my favorite exercises (squats, plank, twists, some yoga stretches) and then adds in a little game at the end focused on abs. I do tend to push back the coffee table and set out a yoga mat and take over the TV but the equipment is easy stashed - a leg wrap for one of the joycon controllers and the circular "ring con" for overhead presses, pulls, arrow pulls, etc.. If you aren't already gaming or have a switch this may be a road too far...maybe someone in your network would let you borrow theirs and try it out?
posted by amanda at 2:34 PM on May 21, 2021

Best answer: Do you have a regular bike? You can buy a turbo trainer which lifts up the back wheel and puts some pressure on it, then you've basically got an exercise bike. There's a huge range of prices but you can get a perfectly fine one for £100. Pop on a YouTube GoPro video of someone mountain biking and you can go for a nice ride somewhere beautiful (or just a favourite show on Netflix). It's not ideal if you use your bike outside regularly as you'd have to disassemble it, and it's definitely easier left out than put away every time, but you can certainly put it away in a cupboard if needed from time to time.

For kettlebells, you can get full routines on YouTube/there are apps. When I did a class, we'd basically do a small cardio warm up (mountain climbers would do it) then some kind of cycle of kettlebell exercises lasting 8 minutes, twice over. Then some stretching and you're done. Alternatively, Turkish Get-Ups are supposed to be a fantastic all-over exercise, so you could just do those for 8 minutes, pause for a drink and a breather, and repeat.
posted by penguin pie at 2:58 PM on May 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

This is somewhat low tech but you could get a Bosu balance trainer and run in place on it in front of a video - it absorbs your steps so it won’t shake the ceiling.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:33 PM on May 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ring fit adventures on the Nintendo switch. It’s been amazing for me and my partner.
posted by LastAtlanticWalrus at 4:02 PM on May 21, 2021

I'm an apartment dweller and last year I bought a cheap recumbent exercise bike - this one - and put it on some interlocking foam tiles. It's been a lifesaver, almost literally. Super quiet, super easy to use, and because it's a recumbent I can multitask if needed. I hop on it for at least a few hours a week.

The downside of it is that it's not foldable, or generally all that storable. It does have wheels you can drag it around on, and I'll sometimes drag it into the closet, but to be honest it mostly just stays set up in my bedroom. It's not that big, though, and may fit into your 1 yoga mat of floor space depending on how that space is configured. Plus, the silver lining is that having it right there and ready to go really makes me use it more often.
posted by ZaphodB at 4:18 PM on May 21, 2021

I love youtube dance cardio workouts. Occasionally someone will jump (like doing a jumping jack) but you can stay on the floor with one foot and it's just as good.

305 Fitness has several joyous, mostly queer, dance cardio workouts on Youtube, many of which are backed up by a live DJ.

Kukuwa Fitness has a bunch of low- and no-impact dance cardio workouts, all to banging African music, many led by the fabulous Kukuwa who is superfit in her 60s

And when I just want a few minutes of dancing I like Fitness Marshall who leads you in full-on music video dance moves (with people of normal dance ability backing up for us mortals to follow along).

Finally, it's not on Youtube but Obe Fitness is a subscription website with visually appealing live and pre-recorded workouts of many styles -- yoga, HIIT, dance cardio, strength, pilates. They offer a two week trial.
posted by hungrytiger at 4:20 PM on May 21, 2021 [5 favorites]

You can get plenty of cardio (along with arm/core tone and stamina) with shovelglove: it's designed exactly for your use case: indoors, small space, quiet, compact, customizable, etc. Also it's fun, inexpensive, and you can use a sledgehammer for many other things too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:50 PM on May 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

Check out Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home videos on YouTube. They all require about as much space as your yoga mat and have no complicated steps. There is a big range of workouts, from 15 mins to longer, a few involving weights or other equipment, but most not.
posted by rpfields at 6:16 PM on May 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

If your building has stairs, seconding BobTheScientist's recommendation for the stairs dash. Time yourself, or count how many you can do. Two stairs at a time for extra thigh strength. Start with no load; work up to a stairs dash carrying a backpack full of books.

I'm recovering from a sprained ankle and dammit, I miss my stairs dashes.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:18 PM on May 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m surprised at how consistently I’ve been doing the workouts in FitOn. It’s free and beginner friendly, have guided workout series if you want that, and they’re mostly pretty short, so you can do them if you only want 5-10 minutes or stack a few together. A few I modify in consideration of my downstairs neighbors, a mat helps too.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:44 PM on May 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

+1 to 305 Fitness!

How heavy are your kettlebells? I feel like doing many sets of somewhat heavy swings is decent cardio, and it's the ultimate in no-impact apartment-dweller workouts.
posted by batter_my_heart at 7:36 PM on May 21, 2021

Aerobic steps might work if you put a rug down to soften the noise. Trying to step quietly helps with good form, anyway.
posted by Comet Bug at 7:40 PM on May 21, 2021

I am another one who has a stationary bike and finds it very helpful.

Another thing that works is to simply put on some music and dance to it. Dance on a carpet or yoga mat to avoid annoying the neighbours. It's all in the play list you pick and what you do to it. You need something fast enough to get your feet moving, but not so fast you get out of breath right away. Start by looking for some pieces that are only two minutes long, and if you can dance to one without getting badly out of breath, work your way up to longer pieces of music. If coming up with a new play list is a problem, use a kitchen timer and dance for two minutes, stand and sway slightly for one minuted, dance for another two minutes.

If you don't know how to move, go with the sort of music that has a dance style associated with it. Do some kind of quasi ballet moves to classical music, footwork to Irish dance, hip hop moves to hip hop. You may want to watch a couple of videos with dance routines to get an idea what you might do that counts as hip hop or Irish dancing, or the Charleston or the cancan if you can't picture whether your arms are involved or what a dancer would do other than careening around the room.

Don't plan on getting good at dancing, just plan on feeling that you got moving and enjoyed the music. If you want a dance partner, a doll or a baby works just fine.

For additional respiratory training, try singing along, not the words which would mean learning them, but simply, "Da-da-da-da-dah-da-dah-da-da..."

To deal with heat try pointing an electric fan at yourself while you dance and doing it while your hair is wet from coming out of the shower, or while wearing a wet button down the front shirt. (Button down the front shirts are easiest to get into while they are wet.)
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:32 PM on May 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

posted by Iris Gambol at 10:19 PM on May 21, 2021

I second rpfields recommendation of Leslie Sansone, I've found in addition to being able to do them anywhere you can take a few steps in any direction, a lot of her videos are simple enough in moves you can have her video playing on a tablet or similar at the corner of your vision and be able to follow along well enough while you keep your main attention on a TV show or movie you're watching on your TV or computer. Makes the time go by much quicker.
posted by mochi_cat at 2:42 AM on May 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Marked the Ring Fit and bike trainer as best answer as I can use pick those things up today (both! I can have options!) but I'll be going through the video suggestions.
Still open to more suggestions though :)

Stair running is a good suggestion but unfortunately our stairs are on the front of the house, twisty metal, and vibrations on them clang through the front wall of the house and that's where our downstairs neighbours new baby's bedroom is. I think they'd rather have me doing jumping jacks in the dining room!
posted by platypus of the universe at 5:01 AM on May 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yay! Enjoy! :) I bought my turbo right at the start of lockdown in case we went into a hard lockdown and weren't going to be allowed outdoors, thinking I'd never be able to cope without exercise. Shortly afterwards got covid which turned into long covid and haven't been able to exercise since. So I'm glad my impulse shopping has at least benefitted someone!
posted by penguin pie at 12:03 PM on May 22, 2021

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