Right before quarantine started, I had just started going to my (free, at work) gym three times a week. I started doing /r/bodyweightfitness’s recommended routine.
This was pretty good. I relied heavily on the TRX suspension system in order to do assisted push-ups, pull-ups, and rows, though.
As we moved into lockdown, I thought it would be 3 months top, and I’d be back to being a busy, city-living girl who walks a few miles a day and does strength training at the free gym.
So uhh… here we are, 5 months later.
I finally caught up on some other habits I wanted to get better at (specifically balancing my eating), so I was ready to start thinking about working out again.
I wanted something I could do at home (obviously), and bodyweight… despite its claims… wasn’t it. You need some equipment:
- Pull-up bar. I was afraid of hurting my (rented apartment) doors with a bad pull-up bar.
- Gymnastic rings. You need enough vertical space to use these properly, and I couldn’t see where I could do this in my studio apartment.
- Somewhere to do dips, rows, etc.. They say you only need a sturdy table and two sturdy chairs. I, once again, live in a studio. I use TV Trays + my couch as my dining tables for friends.
It just felt risky. I wanted to try something else.
I got an ad for resistance band strength training on YouTube, and at the same time asked a friend for advice. He also said resistance bands. I could replicate weights in a way that’s comfortable and less prone to injury.
I also got pulled into the jump rope side of YouTube. Apparently, jump rope is really good cardio. It’s low-impact and high-intensity.
I decided to go with both! Maybe it’s a bit ambitious, but strength training alone just feels way less healthy when we’re all leading such sedentary lives in such a small radius. I want more cardiovascular health, and I want to work on getting stronger.
Here’s a list of equipment I got/use for each:
- Jump Rope. I went with the Wirecutter recommended rope, which was a pain to adjust but it seems fine. I guess any beginner jump rope seems fine. One thing to note is that this was originally $7, but during the pandemic the price has been upped to $11. I think that’s okay, but it’s definitely a huge percentage increase.
That’s it. We’ll discuss more about what I maybe should get in the future down below.
- Resistance bands with handles. I’ve used loop bands before for physical therapy and the like. I think the handled ones are more akin to weights. The convenience makes the form pretty good. They REALLY jacked the price up on these. You should only spend between $20-30 on resistance bands. I got these refurbished for $20.
- Yoga mat. I bought a yoga mat for the gym at work back in February. I wanted something that I could sink into because that’s my preference! I got mine for $16.
For the resistance band strength training, this is all I need! YouTube covers the workouts. There’s no other equipment necessary for the next year, which is awesome.
So with both, I spent around $40 since I already had the yoga mat. I think that’s amazing compared to a gym (assuming they last!).
YouTube for fitness
This all started on YouTube. I don’t remember how it all started. I think I was looking for ways to do bodyweight exercises without equipment. I either got ads or got recommendations in the sidebar that led me to my two newest subscriptions:
- ACHV Peak for resistance band training. This couple seems super chill which is why I like them! I’d never seen follow-along aerobics DVD-style workout videos on YouTube before. I really like the style, the editing, and the humanness of seeing two people work out with you, (sort of) live.
- Jump Rope Dudes for jump rope. I don’t like following along with their workouts since I work out outside. But, I like their style and delivery. I like keeping up with the weekly videos just like any other channel I’m subscribed to.
I fell down a rabbit hole for HOURS last weekend to settle on these two channels. I’m happy I’ve reached this point now. I feel like I’m okay with this commitment.
Schedule and routine
I started working out on Monday. My jump rope arrived on Sunday and it took over an hour to adjust (I kid you not). Now that it’s done though, I’m happy with it and I like how little friction it requires to get out there and do it.
The best thing is getting up and getting it out of the way first thing in the morning.
I just get up, grab my rope, go outside on the deck at around 8am, and go. I’m wearing my PJs and athletic shoes.
Right now, I’ve been focusing on just going for 10 minutes. I’m trying to work on my form so that I don’t get bad jumping habits. This means I’m not even jumping much and I’m still fairly worn out.
It’s been good, but despite being low-impact, my shoes are fairly thin and I definitely need my inserts. I just put them in yesterday, but the inserts are new. They’re stiff. It’s going to hurt for a while, but I hope I’ll adjust.
I’m jumping rope every day that I’m not doing strength training. The resistance band training happens 3 days a week — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Resistance band training has been much easier as far as adjustment process goes. I need to learn some more form (quickly jumping into push ups is hard when I’ve never done a raw push up before), but other than that, I think it’s pretty easy! Especially since it’s indoors.
So, currently my schedule is as follows. All workouts are limited to around 30 minutes (but I’m starting a lot lower):
M-W-F: Resistance band training
Tu-Th-Sa-Su: Jump rope
I really like this. I know I’m only in week one, but I haven’t had much trouble sticking to the routine and I hope that I can continue to do this for a while yet, even after gyms open up. I’ve never felt better about workouts.
So, with that in mind, if I’m sticking to it ,there’s a few upgrades worth considering:
I don’t really need anything for this. My resistance bands will eventually break, at which point I may want to switch to a more premium brand like Bodylastics.
If I need more flexibility in resistance levels, I should probably switch to loop bands. I’ll figure out how to deal with loop bands when I get there. For now, the handles are very convenient and I want to stick with them as long as possible. (I’ve seen some options where you can hook handles onto loop bands, though!)
I expect this to cost ~$60-80. Not bad.
All cardio has its limits! There’s a lot more upgrades here.
- Jump rope. Apparently, cheap jump ropes wear out within a few months. There’s this super premium brand called Crossrope which comes with weighted ropes and steel band cables. They’re supposed to last ~2 years for ~$100-150. I don’t mind spending more for the better workout… once I get to that point.
- Jump rope mat. Concrete is terrible for our joints and the jump rope. I have a deck right now. Wood isn’t as hard as concrete. However, I may move or I may reach the limits of this soon. I think my family has an extra treadmill mat at home I can use instead. It all just serves the purpose of having a thin, softer landing pad for the rope and my feet.
- Sporta bra. Jumping can get really high-impact. I bought a cheap $20 sports bra off of Amazon. I’m not going hard enough right now to need anything more than a normal bra as is. But, if I’m jumping 4x a week, I definitely need one more sports bra, and I’ll probably opt for Athleta or Lululemon.
- Basketball/training shoes. My shoes are thin right now. I definitely need better shoes if I’m going to stick to this. Something flat like basketball shoes is probably best.
This is going to cost a lot more to slowly upgrade to. I don’t even have an estimate, but a few hundred dollars. Just for jumping rope! I thought this would be a lot cheaper. It’s cheap to start, but not cheap to stick to.
It’s fine, I’ll get what’s needed when I need it.