Working out the best way of working out at home


The commercial gyms are closed, as are the apartment block facilities managed by the more cautious strata committees. And the fitness gear store shelves have been cleared of dumbbells, kettle bells and bicycle bells … ok, not quite, but the bike shops have mostly sold out of indoor trainers.

The outdoor gyms are taped up and the shouty Boot Camp classes have been  reduced to just one person being berated from a safe distance – and where’s the fun in that?

Some of us are feeling a bit sluggish, and why do they call it comfort food when it makes your clothes too tight. But seriously, exercise is good for our physical and mental health – and it might even help you fend off the coronavirus.

A newsletter from the Harvard Medical School says exercise – any exercise – will boost your immunity, something we could all use in these plague ridden days.

“While we don’t know exactly how fitness and exercise affect this particular virus, we do know that regular physical activity boosts the immune system.” says the newsletter. “One study shows just a single dose of moderate- to high-intensity exercise can bolster the immune system. And a strong immune system can help fight off the effects of viral illnesses.”

It goes on to say: “Significantly, exercise helps people manage anxiety and depression. Even a single bout of exercise can help if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, perhaps due to the fear of becoming ill, financial concerns, and worry about the well-being of loved ones.”

So, even as the restrictions are gradually lifted, we thought we’d take a look at what you could and should (and maybe shouldn’t) be doing when you are deprived of your pump, spin, Zumba, HIIT and yoga classes.


If you are good motivating yourself, you could try one of the popular off-the-peg training programs available for free on the internet (and even in books!)

One that’s had a lot of traction in recent years is the Scientific Seven Minute workout, which we call the hotel room program, because, well you can do it in a hotel room.

Basically, it’s 12 body-weight exercises that you do for 30 seconds each with a ten second break in between – all adding up to your seven minutes. If that feels too short, then you can do it again … and again.

It gets the thumbs up from Flat Chat’s personal training consultant Shannon Cleary (a special guest on this week’s podcast) who likes it because it’s high-intensity and infinitely portable, provided you can find a room with a chair or stable stool.

Our second option is a golden oldie that’s coming back into fashion. The 5BX program, aka the Royal Canadian Airforce exercise plan, was devised by Dr. Bill Orban in the late 1950’s.

The Plan starts you off with relatively gentle exercises – which it insists is where everyone must begin, regardless of how fit they think they are  – and moves you through a progression of difficulty and intensity until you are doing push-ups so well that you can clap your hands between each lift (seriously).

Dr Orban went on to devise the XBX plan specifically for women.  You’ll find a guide to both of them here.

Finally, if you are already pretty fit and/or are having trouble following the social distancing rules, you might want to take a look at one of the Prison Cell training programs.

Look at it this way, if you were locked up for 23 hours a day and were in mortal danger during the one hour in which you were allowed out, you might want to get stronger and fitter quicksmart.

There are a few around but we found this one did not require you to be a psycho-killer in the first place.

Online classes

If you need a bit more encouragement while you’re working out, you could always try one of the many on-line classes provided by commercial gyms to members or free of charge on a trial basis.

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth’s Centr program, is offering a six-week free trial of its online classes and diet advice.

Fitness First members can log on to live streaming and recorded classes, as will other large gym chains.

Les Mills, the global fitness training company based in New Zealand, is also offering a variety of excellent classes that range from Boot Camp to Barre. You can try them out here – you don’t even have to sign up for the free trial, just click on the class you want to do.

And for a bit of fun (or if you want to brush up your Vietnamese), Citigym, the chain that JimmyT signed up to when he was in Saigon last year, has dozens of entertaining fitness classes (and a huge number of very serious yoga classes) on its YouTube channel.

Finally, if you want to hear from a top trainer about what you could and should be doing during lockdown, join Jimmy, Sue and Shannon Cleary on this week’s podcast for a no-fuss, no-frills guide to your fitness.

One Reply to “Working out the best way of working out at home”

  1. Avatar Jimmy-T says:

    This is now being discussed in the Flat Chat Forum

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