An At-Home Workout for the Gym Averse

Because it's January, and you were thinking maybe you should get out of your chair


I don’t work out. It’s really just not my thing. For one, it’s hard to find the motivation. I mean, yeah, I want to be good looking as much as the next person, but I like the way I look just the way I am… and I don’t go to the gym now, so why change? It’s so much easier to admire my wife Julie’s muscles from the corner of my couch, while eating cheese and crackers.

However, I do read quite a bit, and I listen to the news, so I am aware of the health benefits of exercise. And I enjoy some things that could qualify under the category—I hike, like a good Coloradan. I like to swim, it’s just that I lose track of my laps at the pool, because I’m thinking about brunch. I don’t mind yoga, in theory. I love team sports, with all their sporadic periods of chatting and inactivity and the tantalizing possibility of happy hour afterward. But sometimes those things aren’t possible. And I don’t know if this is true for any of you, but I’m thirty now, with a fairly sedentary job, and if I don’t move around a little bit a couple times a week, something happens with my hip and I start walking around like a pirate with a dog. Which is not cute, and doesn’t fill me with effervescent energy. And makes me a little concerned for how my body is going to treat me when I’m seventy-five. So I try to do something with my body, but I don’t always have the time or the access to the fun things I like to do.

And that’s where I’ve married well. People ask us, together and separately, if we workout together, or if Julie helps me out with training, and the answer is an emphatic no (although, thank you, I’m flattered that you think I’ve been working that hard). But she has exposed me to something I can abide—the Tabata workout. It’s high intensity, so that I don’t feel like I need to toil endlessly to stave off the effects of immobility. It’s also over quickly, usually around sixteen minutes, which means I don’t feel like I’m in pain for an hour, I can remember what it is I’m supposed to do, and I don’t get bored. Plus, I have room for seconds of mashed potatoes at dinner after I do it, so I call it a win-win.

None of you can marry Julie (she’s already married multiple times. To me.), but this style of movement works really well for me, and I wanted to share some of my wife’s prodigious skill with you. However, this is a wedding website, so I feel like I need to offer a disclaimer because I was recently planning a wedding, and I know firsthand that, sometimes, that experience can shake up your confidence with the barrage of the things you should and you must do.

Here’s my disclaimer: you do not need to workout for your wedding. You do not need to diet for your wedding. Your looks are already perfect for your wedding, and if you need to work on anything emotionally in preparation for this big commitment you’re making, you and your partner get to decide that—but you do not need to change anything about your body before your wedding. This workout is in case you travel for work, and get bored in hotel rooms, and needed to move your body after a constricting plane ride. Or in case wedding planning, or your commute, or remodeling your kitchen, are making you want to punch somebody and you need a physical outlet, but aren’t really pumped about joining a gym. Or if you just realized you maybe want to stay alive longer (for you, or for your family). Or maybe you, like Julie, genuinely enjoy working out and are psyched about a new fitness routine. But this is not about changing your body for external reasons.

The APW Intense-But-Speedy Workout from Julie Shiller and Fortitude Fitness

This workout can be completed anywhere and requires zero equipment. The intervals are only twenty seconds each, so they are meant to be done at a high intensity. However, high intensity is a personal thing! If you haven’t worked out for awhile, or if your particular body makeup makes certain movements more challenging, you can just do the exercises below at a moderate pace, and then amp it up as you feel ready. Please modify the exercises as needed. For example, come to your knees on pushups if you cannot complete a standard pushup, and take out the jump in the squat jumps if you have an injury.

Warm up: 10 minutes of dynamic drills (high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, bear crawls)

Tabata Workout

Each exercise is meant to be performed for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest before moving onto the next exercise listed. If you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises, check out the accompanying videos. (Special thanks to Kai Wheeler for the online demonstrations.)

Pushup Bird Dog (pushups can be completed on or off knees)

Squat Jumps

Cross Body Mountain Climbers

Split Jump

Do eight rounds of the list above, with one minute of rest between rounds.

Finish with five minutes of cooling down and static stretching. Hold each stretch for 10–30 seconds.

The traditional Tabata format involves eight completed rounds of each individual exercise before moving onto the next exercise. This variation should help with boredom. I suggest you find someplace pretty to complete this workout and get after it!

P.S. Did you see that you didn’t have to do any burpees? That was from me. You’re welcome.

Disclaimer: Please be aware of your own physical limitations before starting this (or any) exercise regimen. It’s high impact and may not be appropriate for all readers, such as those that are pregnant, for example. Always consult your doctor first.

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