Budget-friendly workouts like exercising at home became last year's top fitness trend, according to a report by the American Council on Exercise.
Here's how a fit couple achieved and maintained fit bodies and a healthy lifestyle by setting up their home gym.
Rep. Sonny Angara, 39, has been exercising since 1990. His wife, Tootsy Echauz-Angara, 36, who gave birth four months ago, has been exercising since 2003. They used to go to the gym to join group classes like Body Combat. Once in a while, they would do Ashtanga or Bikram yoga.
In those days, Tootsy was not doing weights yet because she was afraid of getting muscular. But the couple discovered the wonders of a home workout two years ago when Tootsy finally decided to try lifting weights at home for a change.
The couple has three kids, including a newborn, and she spends more time with them. Tootsy is back to work as the head of sales for ABS-CBN's cable channel and print media. She is still breastfeeding, so strict dieting to return to her pre-pregnancy weight is not an option; she needs to exercise instead to reach her desired weight.
Sonny's schedule as a congressman of the lone district of Aurora got hectic, and sometimes the only chance he has to exercise is past 10 in the evening, when gym hours are over. They cannot spare two hours to go to the gym (including travel and workout time) at this point, so a home workout is their best option.
Setting goals and plans
First of all, you need to get cleared by a doctor before you engage in any exercise program. Then, communicate well as a couple or family and discuss your goals and preferences. Do you want to lose weight or just stay healthy? Do you get more motivated following an exercise video, or doing a 30-minute cardio plus strength program? Do you want to set a fixed exercise schedule, or would you rather exercise according to your availability?
Tootsy's goals include getting leaner and stronger, and maintaining that long-term. She does twice-a-week formal functional resistance training and thrice-a-week cardio exercises at home. If she has extra time, she still attends group fitness classes in her gym.
Sonny's fitness goals include a leaner and more functional body to adapt to the demands of his work. He does basketball, jogging and a home workout, at least once or twice a week of each.
The couple strongly recommends a home workout, since you can exercise any time, before or after work (even late at night) or any time during weekends, in the privacy and comfort of home.
Sometimes, Sonny does crunches and push-ups while watching the late night news. Tootsy can always squeeze in even 30 minutes of exercise on her own any time.
Their home gym now is in their extra living room, and they plan to create a new gym space in the near future.
A home workout saves you travel time to and from the gym, leaving you time to attend to other family obligations or to work and get enough rest. The preparation, traffic, travel and an hour of exercise can take up to two hours.
You can cut this in half with your home workout. But if you have the time and the passion for other exercises that can't be done in your house, like group fitness classes or specialty workouts, you can always add it to your existing home routine.
The couple spent approximately P5,000 when they started their home gym. Initially they bought dumbbells, exercise and yoga mats, a step bench, gym ball, medicine ball, bands, weighing scale and exercise videos, then they just recently added a mini-trampoline, an exercise bench, jump rope and TRX because they got more inspired to exercise at home.
You need enough space in your house where you can comfortably move, preferably six feet by six feet, and you can just use your body weight to perform various exercises like push-ups, squats and core work.
For variety and more results, you need to explore other exercise options like dumbbell or kettlebells, exercise videos, or cardio machines like a treadmill, depending on your budget, goals and space.
An initial budget of P1,000 (S$28.40) for a pair of dumbbells and a mat is already sufficient. You can always incorporate other cardio activities like dancing and shadow boxing. Outside the house, you can walk the dog for a free cardio workout.
You can cover all the essential components of fitness like cardiovascular, resistance, core and flexibility training at home. However, it is always recommended to consult a fitness professional or at least be familiar with the safe and correct programming, form and execution of exercises to avoid injuries and achieve your goals faster.
I started training Tootsy in her place two years ago. At first she was hesitant and was afraid of getting bulky, but when she got a leaner and stronger body, she got more inspired-until she got pregnant last year.
She was just recently cleared to resume her exercise program. She does full-body functional training, suspension training and core exercises. For cardio, she does the cardio boxing home exercise video.
I monitor her weight, body fat and measurements regularly, and she gets motivated when she sees progress. Lifting weights before pregnancy helped her return to her pre-pregnancy weight faster; she just got her body back.
One of the biggest challenges of a home workout is how not to become lazy. Strategies to beat the laziness and lack of focus include having a goal, monitoring your progress, varying your workout, and having your supportive motivator (trainer or spouse), so there's still accountability and commitment.
For Tootsy, exercising at home has become a family affair. "We motivate each other-if one is lazy, the other one pushes," she says. "We get to spend time and talk while doing different exercises, and we give each other positive reinforcement. Instead of leaving our kids for two hours to go to the gym, they are in the room with us. Sometimes they even join us when we do our yoga video. We get to bond as a family."