Creating an adaptable home workout

When it comes to the 2020 pandemic, it seems that it's not just toilet paper that we are stocking up on! Gym equipment has also been flying off of the shelves and suppliers cannot keep equipment stocked. Some gym owners are renting their equipment out for a monthly fee while others are just straight out selling equipment to make ends meet. Others with access to equipment are choosing to capitalize on this. People are so desperate they are willing to pay way above retail value in order to get their hands on a set of rusty, old dumbbells.

Silver lining

As a gym owner and fitness coach, it is extremely refreshing to see how people are realizing just how important that hour or so that they spend at their gym a few or more times a week means to them. People are recognizing the value in their personal fitness and the link it has to their overall well-being. Perhaps the days of making any excuse we see fit to miss our workouts will be a thing of the past. This is definitely seen as a mission accomplished for fitness professionals.

No excuses

Now that most trainers are providing streaming class options online, there are literally no excuses as to why you can’t make it to a class even if you don’t have traditional gym equipment. Although online workout classes are certainly not ideal for fitness professionals who thrive on building community and having ‘real’ face to face and hands-on experiences, they do help to keep gym members engaged. At best, virtual classes will help people to appreciate how the simple act of going to the gym on a regular basis was taken for granted.

No equipment? No problem: Improvise

You can safely manage pretty much all of your basic lifting moves that incorporate all major muscle groups if you are ok with a little bit of creativity. I personally have seen people successfully substitute dumbbells and/or barbells and/or kettlebells with the makeshift equipment listed here:

  • Filled backpacks
  • Filled grocery bags
  • Filled suitcases
  • Laundry detergent jugs
  • Water jugs
  • Paint cans
  • Bricks
  • Rocks
  • Wine bottles
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Stairs

Still not convinced?

Grab a chair, a backpack and a couple of laundry jugs or a couple of grocery bags. Load the backpack up with whatever you can find around the house. Soup cans work well. Do the same with the grocery bags if you don’t have laundry jugs. If your jugs are empty, fill them with water to desired weight.


Focus: Full Body / Muscular Endurance
Sets: 3-4
Reps: 10/side
Rest: minimal

1. Squats (backpack on)

2. Elevated chair push ups (backpack on)

3. Step ups (backpack on)

4. Bent over rows (jugs or bags)

5. Reverse lunges (backpack on)

6. Overhead press (jugs or bags)

7. Swings kettlebell-style (jugs or sealed bags)

8. Elevated elbow chair plank for 1 minute (backpack on)

Still thinking about taking more time off?

If you don’t use your muscles, you will lose them. After just a few weeks – depending, of course, on how fit you were previous to your gym closing – you can begin to see a noticeable drop in your strength. You don’t want to be the one struggling the most and starting at ground zero when your gym reopens.

Even if your workouts need to change - and they will - we need to evolve, not quit. Goals can still be met as long as you are open to change. If lifting heavy is your jam then take this time away from your gym as an opportunity to switch it up and work on your muscular endurance. Or load those backpacks and bags up with the heaviest things they can hold. Invest in some bags of sand or a tractor tire! Do what you need to do to feel your best. Bottom line, when there is a will there’s a way.

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a Fitness Professional and a Mother of two with a passion for health and overall well-being. She has spent her entire life in the fitness industry through many family owned and operated fitness centres and has spent the last decade cultivating a community of strong like-minded women. She strives to set an example for women to be the best they can be by channeling their inner athlete and putting up some healthy competition against themselves! #leadbyexample

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.

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