Lots of people want to do some sort of movement or fitness practice at home on their own. It’s a great idea: you can save money, you don’t have to travel anywhere for a class or lesson, you can do it on your own schedule, and you don’t need any special equipment.

So why is it so hard to follow through and just do it?

Now some folks want the accountability, the social contact, and the instructor feedback of a class or lesson and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Actually, I get paid for that, so I have no argument with it at all.

If you’re 100% happy with the classes and lessons you take, or the sports you’re involved with, or the activities you do regularly, and you don’t want or need to add anything to it, this post is not for you.

But for those who want a little extra but for some reason aren’t getting it done, I have some ideas for you.

I’ve talked in earlier posts about why it’s hard to form new habits and given some general habit-forming ideas there. But today I want to focus less on the habit formation and more on the working out part of working out at home.

Here are some of the obstacles I’ve seen people run into:

  • I don’t know what to do, my mind goes blank.

It’s funny isn’t it? When you’re in a class, it can feel like you’re doing the same old exercises over and over again, so much so you could do it in your sleep with the phantom teacher’s voice floating through your mind. But then you get down on the floor at home and…nothing.

The next time you take a class or read one of those articles with 5 exercises for your hips or see a physical therapist for something, I want you to pick one thing that really resonates with you. Maybe it just feels good or maybe it addresses a specific need you have. But just pick one and as soon as you can, do the exercise while talking it through in your mind. And then write it down somewhere. Give it a name if it doesn’t have one and write down the instructions.

For the next week, do that one exercise daily. If it leads to other exercises, fine, but your goal is just that one.

After a week, choose another exercise in the same way, practice it the same way, and now you have two to do for the next week.

Do this until you have a practice that feels like exactly the right amount where you don’t have to think about it or force yourself to do it.

  • If I don’t work out for an hour, it doesn’t count, and I don’t have that kind of time so I just don’t do it.

I have a pop quiz for you. What’s the better choice from these options: 1) Work out for an hour a day and don’t move for the whole rest of the day until bedtime, or 2) Forget about the hour-long workout and instead add in small movement breaks throughout your day, including a nice walk at some point?

I’m going to go with #2. First of all, if we’re talking home workouts here and not a class or lesson, be honest: how likely are you to do that hourlong workout on your own? And secondly, your body thrives on movement so the more you can scatter it through your day the better.

  • I don’t know where my mat is and I’d have to change my clothes.

I went to China many years ago and one of the things I was most struck by was how many people I saw doing various forms of exercise in completely random places wearing whatever they happened to be wearing. People in parks doing t’ai chi, people waiting for buses swirling their arms around, people shopping for groceries and stretching their calves.

You don’t need a mat and you don’t need special clothes.

However, if those things make it easier for you, then find them and put them somewhere easy to access, where you’ll see them and can use them without thinking about it. This includes any props you like to use. I have a big box and a cloth hamper in the living room with a variety of items to use any time I want them.

  • I have a list in my mind of things I should do in my workout and it’s overwhelming.

I want you to stop worrying about what you should be doing. Instead, can you think of one thing that you can do right now that you know will immediately make your body feel better?

Maybe you’re bent over a screen and you can put it down and stretch your arms up and take a big breath. (I did this just now and I feel so much better.)

Maybe there’s a PT exercise you used to love that you haven’t done for a while and you know it always makes you feel good.

Cat/cow, anyone?

Start your home practice with things that feel great. You can think about adding stuff that’s more challenging for you once you’ve built the habit.

copyright 2021 Autumn Needles Pilates and Fitness LLC