How I Lost Over 20 Inches Working Out in my Living Room

For the longest time I used the excuse of “not wanting to join a gym” to get out of working out. I didn’t want to make the sacrifice in our budget. I didn’t trust the childcare in a gym. I didn’t want to run into people I knew. Blah blah excuses blah.

Then I signed up with my online trainer and she opened my eyes to the reality: you do not need to join a gym to lose weight or gain strength. The best thing she did for me was help me establish a tried and true foundation of strength exercises that have essentially been growing with me for the past 8 months.

Look at NAVY Seals, for example. They are the epitome of athleticism, strength and endurance right? But do you think they have some top of the line gym at every location they get assigned to? No. Navy Seals are still doing the good ol’ push up! They just do about 100 one arm push-ups as opposed to 15 beginner modified push ups. My point is we all know what a push up is and the awesome thing about push ups is that you can do them anywhere. THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO GET OUT OF A PUSH UP or lunges, squats and planks.

I’ve collaborated with my trainer for this post because she is certified and has years of experience in strength training as she was a powerlifting champion in high school. Seriously, how cute is she?!

((email her at for training details and prices))

Here’s what she has to say about working out at home:

“There are many ways to go from beginner to advanced workouts in the comfort of your own home.

When performing exercises as a beginner it is common to do circuit style with 9-12 different moves, 3-4 sets of each and 10-15 repetitions per set. These usually require 30 seconds of rest between each move. As you start to advance in your workout you can perform more repetitions or decrease the amount of time between each. When you first start it is best to begin with exercises where your body is stabilized. This means both feet are on the ground, you’re sitting, laying down or using a stabilization ball. These moves engage all muscles and help tighten core and strengthen your balance. Examples of these moves include squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, wall sits, crunches, lunges, wide squats, calf raises and tricep dips.

As you master these basic moves you may begin incorporating weights. Exercising with weights requires lower repetitions and more rest between moves. This gives your muscles time to rebuild the energy. As your strength increases this way you can decrease rest time and increase the amount of weight to build muscle mass.

The most advanced form of exercise is plyometrics. You must be able to perform beginner style workouts before getting into these. They are powerful movements such as jumping and bounding that cause muscles to contract and relax very quickly which results in high calorie burn. Examples of plyometric moves include squat jumps, lunge jumps, box jumps and power push ups.

The training known to get the most bang for your buck is called supersets. A superset is when one set of an exercise is performed directly after a set of a different exercise without rest between them. Once each superset is complete rest 1-2 minutes to recover then repeat that superset for a total of 3-4 times. An example of this would be 12-15 squats followed by 10 squat jumps. Rest 1 minute. Repeat 4 times.”

To demonstrate the evolution of these strength training exercises we put together this table that takes 8 of the most basic exercises from a beginner style workout all the way to advanced:

Keep in mind there is hundreds of varieties of these basic body weight exercises and more. I discover new ones every week. I am still not opposed to joining a gym myself, it could happen eventually. To be honest, part of the thrill I’ve gotten out of my Mostly Healthy experience is finding new ways to challenge my body every week outside of the gym. I do still dream of the luxury of  being able to tune into music and have my workouts to myself though. Perhaps you live somewhere where gyms with childcare aren’t readily available or you do have a gym membership but you’re human and aren’t able to make it 5 or 6 times a week. Or maybe you’re just like me and if you can do it without the $75/month sacrifice then that’s the way it is.

My first week of training with Alyssa I had $60 worth of equipment:

3 lb, 5 lb, 8 lb dumbells

Resistance loop bands

As I’ve gotten stronger I’ve ordered  this dumbell set which is what I’m using the most of right now. I love these and incorporate them into my workout at least twice a week.

And that’s it! No crazy equipment, Bowflex (do they still make those?), cardio machines, DVD’s, nothing.

Joining a gym is awesome if you have that opportunity and may be the easier route for some but it is not necessary and definitely should not be your excuse like it was for me. I also need to stress that starting at the appropriate level of fitness is crucial. Alyssa was great because she evaluated my fitness level ahead of time and somewhat “eased” me into the routine. I mean, it wasn’t pretty, trust me. I was (and still am) sore most days of the week but I’ve learned to listen to my body and challenge it just a little bit more with each workout. I did a couple of weeks of beginner workouts prior incorporating weights and resistance. A little back story though– before my wedding I was doing a few workout DVD’s at home that claim to make you lose 20 pounds in 30 days *insert eye roll*. I lost a few pounds during the 2 or 3 weeks I stuck with it, sure, but I was miserable. I was doing exercises my body simply was not ready for and that 24 minute workout every day was not enjoyable. Seriously, in hindsight, I don’t even know what I was thinking but I really didn’t know any better. If you’re wanting to make a long term commitment to this you have to start at a realistic level. 

Lastly, I want to once again stress that finding something that makes you feel good and you learn to enjoy is what it’s all about. You can’t realistically commit to something that you completely hate but by the same token, you will probably go through a temporary stage of discomfort when establishing a new workout routine. Any disruption to your every day life, body and routine is going to cause that. Be open minded, explore different workout styles and find your jam. I love to jog and Alyssa has also taught me how to maximize my weekly run and turn it into an incredible full body workout -BUT- that’s a whole other post!

Until next time…