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Making the Most of Your At-Home Workouts

Season 11, Episode 11  | April 12, 2020

Just because we’re more confined to our homes right now doesn’t mean we can’t prioritize our fitness. We have the opportunity to form new habits or adjust our routines to reap new benefits by trying new things. In this episode, Danny King, national manager of team development at Life Time and personal trainer, offers his advice for maximizing your at-home workouts — no matter your starting point.

Woman Doing An At Home Workout.

2:17

Jamie Martin and David Freeman discuss how they’ve adjusted their personal workout routines during this time of sheltering in place.

3:55

Our guest this episode is Danny King. He’s been a personal trainer for more than a decade and is the national manager of team member development at Life Time.

4:16

Even though health clubs are temporarily closed, there are still opportunities for us to remain active and continue moving. As you think about how to get started or how to adapt your routine, remember that something is always better than nothing.

5:36

Many of us are spending a greater part of our days being sedentary. Making space for even small bits of movement is critical for your health.

8:18

Community can be a powerful fitness motivator. King discusses how you can virtually maintain those connections and accountability.

11:52

Outside of the benefits of weight loss, muscle tone, or other things we typically think of when it comes to exercise, it can serve as medicine, too.

13:01

Is now the right time for people to go all-in on an exercise plan?

15:58

King talks about body-weight workouts, including where to start if you’re a beginner and how to maintain your fitness if you’re more advanced. No matter your level, there’s a lot you can do at home with no or minimal equipment.

17:48

King offers suggestions for equipment substitutions using things you likely have around your house.

19:37

During this unprecedented time, King has been inspired by the number of people who are prioritizing their health and fitness, as well as the resilience people have shown.

Transcript: Making the Most of Your At-Home Workouts

Season 11, Episode 11  | April 12, 2020

Jamie Martin

Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor-in-chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman

And I’m David Freeman, the signature program lead for Life Time’s Alpha program. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we are working towards, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin

In each episode we’ll cover the foundational elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, health issues like sleep and stress management, and mindfulness and community.

David Freeman

And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

Jamie Martin

Hey everyone, David and I are so glad to be back with you, even though it’s a little sooner than we were planning. In early March, we were just starting to finalize details of Season 2 for Life Time Talks, and then all of our lives were turned upside down by coronavirus.

David Freeman

So, we decided to extend Season 1 and bring you some additional episodes on coping with this new normal. With all the worries, the changes, the challenges, and the opportunities.

Jamie Martin

Like many of you, we’re in our respective homes. I’m in Minnesota . . .

David Freeman

And I’m in Texas . . .

Jamie Martin

And we’re recording in the quietest rooms we could find. I’m in my home office and there’s a good chance my daughters will come knocking sooner than later.

David Freeman

And I’m in my man cave. My kids are probably thinking I’m playing hide and seek, and they’re “it.”

Jamie Martin

We know that a lot of people are concerned and worried about coronavirus and its effects on our family and friends, our communities, our world. We are too. It’s impacting every aspect of our lives.

David Freeman

And while we’ll be leaving it to the local and state officials, along with public health experts and the CDC, to revive the latest information about the illness, we’re here with the intent of offering some ideas, information, and inspiration that we hope helps you navigate the days ahead.

David Freeman

Jamie, we’re back, and this time around we’re going to be talking about at-home workouts, so super excited about this. We’re always talking about the five pillars of health and fitness, this one being movement, so having fun at home with workouts and what that actually looks like. So, tell me a little bit about what you’re thinking about today’s episode.

Jamie Martin

Well, I think it’s like we’re all having to adjust our routines with all the time that we’re spending at home. I mean, I just want to share a little bit about like how I’ve been handling it. So, like this morning for instance, I woke up and I did one of the Life Time on-demand workouts, I did Strike. I had never done that class before, but I tested that out, and then I got out for a little walk for 20 minutes, and that’s kind of been my thing is like getting outside for movement as often as I can throughout the day, whether it’s a bike ride, a walk, my kids are rollerblading as my husband and I are running with them, and it’s just like you know, how do we squeeze in those moments of movement when we’re kind of confined to a certain space for this period of time. So, I’m just doing different things like that every day and using the equipment that I have at home: I have a kettlebell, I have a TRX, I have some dumbbells, and so I’m just making that work. How about you? What are you up to?

David Freeman

Well, the kids are my workout.

Jamie Martin

You’re usually at the club.

David Freeman

Yeah, I usually am at the club, but my kids have been keeping me pretty active. But it’s been very, what I would say, enjoyable. We’ve been doing long bike rides about an hour or so and just seeing my son pretty much say, “Let’s go longer! Let’s go longer!” is like motivation for me, to keep him moving and then as far as my daughter, she’s just starting to learn how to ride her bike, but she’s got a big wheel as well, so they’re both trucking along as far as their exercise. Equipment at home, same deal, I got a kettlebell, I got some plates, need a barbell so our guest today, Danny King, I’m probably going to lean on him and see if he can send me one. But all in all, I’m staying moving and I’m excited to actually speak to our genuine guest, Danny King, today about at-home workouts.

Jamie Martin

Yeah, so with that we’re going to bring in Danny. So, Danny is the national manager of team member development at Life Time, he has also been a certified personal trainer for more than a decade, so I think you probably have a lot of ideas, Danny. Welcome to Life Time Talks.

Danny King

Thank you so much. I’m looking forward to talking to both of you and sharing some tips with everybody at home.

David Freeman

Danny, once again, excited to have you. We got a lot going on right now in the world, a lot. And one thing that has been taken a back seat for most, you probably would think, is health and fitness as it relates to working out. So, being that we are in our houses now and not really able to go to the club to workout, what would you say during this time of what things we probably could be doing still, granted that we cannot be at the club.

Danny King

I think that’s a great question, and I’ve had plenty of people reach out to me about that whether it’s friends and family, clients — I spent a lot of time on social media going through this. And the biggest thing that I’ve emphasized with everybody is that something is always better than nothing. So, you’re not going to be doing your normal routine, regardless of what that looks like, it’s probably going to be disrupted somewhat. But like both of you have mentioned, getting out and getting active, getting moving is the best thing that you can be doing. So, even if that means that your normal hour, hour-and-a-half, at Life Time has turned into a 15-minute circuit at home, you’ve just got to consider that a win and know that something in this situation is always going to be better than nothing. That’s probably my biggest number one tip for anybody out there as they get started or as they’re thinking about how they’re going to adapt.

Jamie Martin

Can you just speak, Danny, a little bit as to why movement and getting up and moving our bodies is so important? Because I find, you know, I’m a pretty active person, but I found that I just am sitting a lot more because I’m home, you know, I’m in my desk chair or I’m on the couch or I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my kids, so what does movement do, and why is that so important for us?

Danny King

Yeah, Jamie, that’s a great question. And I’m going to come at it from two angles. When we think about general movement, just getting up and moving around, or adding those little workouts in, one of the big things that it does is it just creates a level of movement and variety in the body, so moving the body through different positions, that’s going to keep our muscles loose and moving, and honestly our joints warm and moving so you’re going to have a lot less aches and pains, a lot less potential injury. After about 20 minutes in the same position, the body’s muscles actually start to physically change shape, so they start to actually hold in that.

So, ideally, we’d all be getting up and moving about, at least, every 20 minutes. Most people aren’t great about that, but that’s kind of my go-to signal. And so, the ability to stand up, move around, and go through that. And like you said, most people right now are at home, maybe they’re spending more time on the couch to have less reason to. But the really cool part about being at home is you get less funny looks for doing things like getting up and doing a couple bodyweight squats at your desk, you know, or trying any of those things you often wouldn’t in the workplace. So, you actually have a really cool opportunity to add in little bites of movement.

The other thing that I think really matters as we say that movement matters or exercise matters or any of this or that, something that people need to keep in mind is it actually takes way less effort to maintain your fitness then it does to gain it. So, when you think about all the really hard work that you’ve been doing in the gym and that you don’t want to go to waste, the really good news is you’re going to be able to hold onto that with a lot less effort than you got it. So, if you can get, you know, a couple sets of squats in, if you can get one or two tough leg exercises, if you can just do a little bit of things, some pushups or those things, when you get back into the gym, you’re going to find you come back way faster than if you were to do nothing at all, and it’s going to be much easier than when we got to the gym the first time. So, moving keeps the body healthy, and then adding these exercises or these varieties of movements in is going to do a great job of keeping you ready to get back into the club when you can finally do that.

David Freeman

I love that, I love that. I mean, so big takeaway right now is doing something is better than nothing and then another thing, I’m using air quotes right here, but also if you don’t “use it” then you’re going to “lose it” to your last statement that you just said.

Danny King

Exactly.

David Freeman

So, let’s talk about community. Let’s talk about being part of something. Us as human beings we all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves and a big piece of that was the community that people were apart of when they were having access to the club. Being that they’re no longer at the club with this tribe and community of people, how does that play on their mental, you would say, because I know you said you had a lot of family members and friends reaching out to you, so, is this an opportunity for us to reconnect, granted we might not be in the physical presence of someone else that we can still hold each other accountable?

Danny King

That’s a huge point. You know, you were both talking about your workout routines — I wasn’t going to mention this, but I am lucky enough to have a pretty extensive home gym, I’ve spent a lot of time putting it together, and it’s pretty great, and I’m lucky enough to have a wife who’s a personal trainer who we do a lot of our workouts together. But I find myself still doing most of my workouts at a Life Time facility, mostly because I enjoy other people around, that energy, and having people, and even if you’re not working out with them, it just feels better. So, even there has been a big change, and I’ve felt the exact same thing that you’re saying. You’re just really disconnected at home.

And to your point, I think this is a great time to find different ways to connect, whether that is, I’ve been trying to, you know, reach out to friends and family and be a little bit fast about responding to texts or emails or phone calls or those things. But on top of that, trying to get really creative with the use of social media and different social tools to keep a little more workout challenge in. So, I’ve actually found I brought working out more into my personal life than I traditionally would have in terms of challenging friends and family. You know, there’s an awesome pushup challenge going around — David, I actually believe you actually tagged me in it on Instagram, to give 10 and do 10, and so there’s all these different ways now that we can use social media, which sometimes can just be a little overwhelming right now or, you know, depressing or sad as a way to create community, and if we can bring all these together and use that community to, you know, help pep all of us up with our workouts and get some inspiration from other people and challenge each other back and forth, it’s an awesome way to stay connected and happy and, you know, have that community while we’re missing it at the clubs.

Jamie Martin

I was just going to add to, you know, David, before this whole thing started, you had kind of started the 40 pushups in 40 days, for 40 days, challenge, and then the 30 squats in 30 days challenge. And I think, you know, it’s so funny how important that is right now, those little bits of inspiration and then the challenging each other. I think, you know, sometimes I think it can be overwhelming to see those challenges, but it’s also a little bit of motivation of being stuck at my desk all day, like oh yeah, I should get up and do those things. So, using that community — which has its pros and cons which we’ve talked about in the past — that social media community to keep us moving has been really interesting I think and there’s more of that to come. I think we’re going to see some pretty exciting ways of people challenging each other in the coming days and weeks.

David Freeman

Yeah and that pushup challenge, it came from an educational piece. And Danny, I don’t know if you remember saying this, I remember you referencing it back in, I want to say it was last year, if you’re able to do 40 or more pushups that reduces your, you know, your health risks as far as cardiovascular disease, so it came from that. And from there, everybody and their mom started joining in and so it was pretty cool to see. But it all came from an educational piece to fight back on cardiovascular heart disease.

Danny King

I didn’t realize it came from that, which is fantastic. I’m now going to take all the credit for starting that. One of the things that I’m super passionate about more and more and more the more I read is the idea of exercise as medicine and what it can do. And what that specifically references is a male who can do 40 pushups has a significantly lower risk and there’s just some really interesting things to that. You know, one of the best predictors, there are two incredible predictors of all-cause mortality: One of them is your VO2 max, the volume of oxygen you can use if you think of your cardiovascular fitness. So, the fitter you are cardiovascularly, but the other thing is your grip strength. And the longer the better your grip strength is, it’s just a really great measure, especially in like older populations that’s easy to do, the higher their grip strength is the better their all-cause mortality is — the lower chance they have of dying for any reason. And one of the best ways you can obviously improve your grip strength or improve your overall strength is exercise, right?

So, there’s just so many cool things that exercise does outside of the traditional things we think of: weight loss, or muscle tone, or all of these things. And all of those will still happen, even when you’re doing that home workout regardless of, right, maybe that effect of anything else.

Jamie Martin

For sure. So, one of the things I want, I’ve been hearing a lot of people say is like, “Oh I’m going to, I haven’t had a very consistent exercise program, now is my chance.” Is now the right time for people to dive into a, to go full into an exercise program or workout program? Or what are your thoughts on that? Because I’ve been hearing a lot of that, “now’s my time to get fit, I have the time.”

Danny King

Yeah, I think it’s both great, it’s fantastic, and I’m glad you asked because there are some caveats or concerns that we should have in there. Now is a great time to build a habit because, you know, we’re taking away a huge time thing for people. Even if you’re at work right now, you’re probably not commuting. There are all these things, so all of a sudden, we find we have more time then we used to before. So, from that standpoint, great, now we can get, you know, over that initial hump of fitness and get into that routine and get to the point where you can start feeling the really positive, you know, health effects of it, maybe past that.

Now, the scary part is, with that amount of time or with that ability to do it, is we are potentially setting ourselves up for some overuse injuries if we jump in too much too quick too fast. The big one that I think of that a lot of people do this with is running, right. They might not have a lot of equipment at home, so they decide, “Hey, I’ve got some running shoes, it’s getting nice out, I’m just going to go for a run every day.” And one of my mentors in the industry, one of my favorite people always used to always use the phrase, “You don’t run to get in shape, you better get in shape to run.” It’s a pretty impact-oriented activity, it puts a decent amount of strain on the body.

So, trying to do things like that daily is going to be a bit of a problem. So, start the habit, but a couple easy ways to do it is making sure you’re varying the activity you’re doing every day, you know running two or three days a week, mixing that with some strength training, even if it’s just body-weight-based, make sure you’re listening to your body so if you find yourself beat up and sore, you’re taking a day off or taking it easy — just going for a walk, you’re adding in recovery strategies, you’re doing some stretching, foam rolling, or any type of self-myofascial or self-massage if you have access to those tools. I love like a warm Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt is a magnesium salt to let those muscles recover, so just make sure you’re doing things for recovery, make sure you’re not accelerating too quickly to fast, and you’re varying up the types of activities that you’re doing to not put that repeated strain on your body.

David Freeman

I love that. And when you think about it, you’ve heard that saying before, too — less is more. And when you think about, everybody thinks that they might need, like myself, like that barbell, or the kettlebell, or all the equipment, but in reality, when we go to the foundational pieces of movement, is knowing how to move your body in space. So, what suggestions would you say for those people, whether beginner or advanced, what could we do with the basics, as far as just moving our body through body-weight exercise and the benefits behind that?

Danny King

Yeah, so, I’ll take those two as separate. Beginners, it’s exactly what you just said. When I think of things like pushups, when I think of things like body-weight squat, a lunge, a step — these are really fundamental or primal movement patterns. So, just learning how to do that is going to go an incredibly long way to your overall fitness, both from a muscle tone standpoint, from a fat loss standpoint, as well as we talked about a little bit ago, we talked about that ability to move and feel better through movement, getting these very sort of fundamental movements in, some really great stuff can happen there.

When someone gets a little bit more advanced, and we start to think of “Hey, I’ve been strength training for a while, I’m afraid of losing some of my strength or my gains,” this is a great time to play with some stuff that maybe you haven’t done in a while. The best example I can think of is really adding a power component back to your workout. So, what most people are afraid of losing is the strength as you think of it — they’re called fast-twitch muscle fibers. These are the muscle fibers that we recruit when were strength training and especially for anything between — it’s called 3 in 12 reps — so it’s a little bit heavier, this is the stuff that does great for building strength, building muscle tone.

The other thing that can help fast-twitch fibers is explosive movements. Think of a jump squat, an explosive pushup, any kind of almost plyometric drill. So, if you are a little more advanced and you’re going to the gym and you’re in the normal routine, adding some of these really power-based exercises in can be a really fun way to get and maintain some of these things and maybe come back stronger because you’re faster than you used to, because you can move things a little bit faster, probably get really sore in a way that you’ve been missing for the last week or two if you’re used to the gym, and just keep that routine variety in. So, like you said, there’s a ton of stuff you can do with relatively little equipment at home if we can start to get creative.

Jamie Martin

So, Danny, you mentioned equipment, and not everyone is going to have you know, the kettlebells and the dumbbells and the equipment at home, so what would you suggest people use that they may already have in their house or their apartment?

Danny King

Yeah, I think that’s an excellent question — I’m sure a lot of people are thinking about that right now. I will put a plug in that I do think that everyone should have at least a minimum amount of equipment at home, a couple kettlebells, a couple dumbbells. Even when, you know, our clubs reopen and you’re going to once again you get your workouts in regularly, it’s still, there’s still going to be days that you can’t get into the gym or can’t get into your regular routine, so having some stuff at home is always a great plan. That said, there are some things that we can use right now to make sure you’re getting a great workout. I’m a big fan of a backpack loaded with some books or anything you have heavy — that can be used really well for squats, lunges. You can even, you know, you can do a bent over row with it, so I think that’s really my-go to, that’s one of my first things.

And then you’ve got to get creative — look around your house. Some paint cans, especially if they’re empty and you can add something to them, can make a great make-shift dumbbell. So, a paint can or something like that can be fantastic, or go into the yard and anything heavy. I know this sounds kind of crazy, but if you have some heavier rocks in your yard that you can pick up and carry and move around, it can just create a really interesting style of workout that you’ve never done. So, I think it often takes a walk through your house, you know, looking with a new eye for what can be done.

The other thing is a step or a low table can be used for step-ups, or a pushup assist, or to elevate your feet on a pushup. So, it’s often about just being really creative with what you have. But really, my go-to for most people is get that weight vest right away with that weighted back pack and there’s a lot that can be done there.

David Freeman

Love that, love that. So, we’re coming into our power minute, and as you just said, creativity is going to be at its best, and so we’ll see how creative you’re going to be with this last question here. So, we want to know what exactly has moved you the most during these times? Being, what we’ve said throughout this whole podcast, being away way from our norm, what has moved you the most during this time as it relates to workouts?

Danny King

Can I cheat and give two? I’m going to do it anyway. I think one of the things that helps the most, seeing how many people quickly said, “Oh, wow, what do I do, you know my Life Time shut down.” And one, just the outpouring for how many people really identify with Life Time as their place and their want, but how quickly they needed something else. So, just being inspired by how many people really prioritize their health and fitness was a big part of it. I think that really has to probably be the biggest one, which is actually really the second one I came to. And the first one I was going to think of was just the general resiliency of people. You know, everyone’s lives are just in this crazy state of flux and there’s all sorts of things going on, but I’ve also seen some of the best in people. Just in terms of helping out and, you know, doing things for each other, reaching out, you know, we talked about community and spending time with people and just seeing how resilient people have been during this time and some of just the awesome examples of this during social media and friends that’s just been for me, if I’m looking for a bright side, that’s really been it.

David Freeman

Awesome.

Jamie Martin

Well, thank you, Danny, so much for coming on the podcast. We’ll have to have you back when we’re back in normal times, hopefully.

Danny King

Yeah, I would love to do this where we could all be in the same room together hanging out, talking. This is a blast, I was happy to be on, my pleasure.

David Freeman

Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life, what works for you, where do you run into challenges, where do you need help.

Jamie Martin

And if you have topics for future episodes, you can share those with us too. Email us at lttalks@lt.life or reach out to us on Instagram @lifetime.life, @jamiemartinel, or @freezy30 and use the hashtag #LifeTimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at experiencelife.com/podcast.

David Freeman

And if you’re enjoying Life Time Talks, please subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Feel free to write a review and also let others know about it, too. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on social or share it with your friends, family, work buddies, life coach, you get the gist.

Jamie Martin

Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks.

Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Schelper with audio engineering by Peter Perkins and sound consulting by Coy Larson. A big thank you to the team who pulls together each episode and everyone who provided feedback.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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