How to Friday – how to workout at home…..


with three little kids…who always want to work out with you…and need water and a snack as soon as you lift a weight…and then need to be taken to school…which is totally overrated, all that schooling and reading and academia.  I’m kidding.  School is super important.  So is reading.  And all things academic.  

Workout – today is a rest day, so I took it easy.  25 minutes on the stairmaster and a little P90X yoga that I’ve had an intense craving for this week.  Or my hamstrings had an intense craving for.  I am doing 19-20 miles tomorrow, and didn’t feel the need to kill it today.  Not like I have been killing it all week, but whatev.  Just not my week.  It happens.  At least I’m trying.  Next week will be my week.  I have big plans to make big plans on Sunday for the coming week, including workouts and meals so that I don’t go to the grocery store and wander the aisles aimlessly trying to figure out what healthy meal to prepare for that evening’s feast.  It’s all about getting into a groove.  When I’m in the groove of planning, I plan.  When I fall out of the groove, I’m a mess.  Time to get back into the groove.  It’s fun to have it all planned out.  What a stellar revelation.

I joined my gym when I was 14 years old.  I worked out at the gym in between the field hockey and lacrosse seasons.  I worked in the daycare there through high school, and I kept my membership when they changed franchises.  My husband and I had romantic morning workouts together when we were just dating.  I went back to the gym after I had each of my girls.  I give the gym daycare credit for getting me through those first couple years when my girls were really little and we had lots of time and no activities.  It kept my sanity as they safely played for an hour while I ellipticaled away.  That is a word. 

The gym and I go way back.  The downward spiral started when they cut the time limit in the daycare to 1 hour.  It was not nice.  And then they put a limit on 20 kids at a time in the daycare.  If you didn’t get there 5 minutes before they opened, you were turned away with an 21 month old and a seven month old and dashed hopes of an endorphin lifting workout.  Then, if you can imagine, they cut the childcare program all together.  Tragedy.  Truly a sad day.  But everything happens for a reason.  I wasn’t willing to pay $135 a month for the other gym in town.  So I cancelled my membership.  After more than 10 years there.  For more than 2 years I did not set foot into a gym.  I worked out at home and started running.  I rejoined this past fall.  I love the gym, but now I have a much easier time working out at home and have no anxiety about not getting to the gym.  Now, the gym gives me a good balance to the home workouts.  I daresay I got into the best shape I had ever been in NOT working out in the gym. 

Some people need the gym, trainers, equipment and the motivation of going somewhere to workout.  But, it is completely possible to get a great workout at home as well.  The workout is only part of it – remember, physical exercise is only 20% of the fitness picture.  Nutrition makes up the majority.  Whether you work out hardcore at the gym, or at home – none of it will matter if your diet, or I should say nutrition, sucks.  

The following is How To Workout at Home – Katie Style.  which means minimal equipment.  minimal investment.  minimal fuss.  maximal fun, excitement and sweat.  You can totally go crazy with all sorts of different paraphanalia, but right now I’m just talking about baisc, old fashioned, standard fitness equiptment.  Nothing new and trendy.  No bands, bosu’s or other things of the sort – although I like all of those things.  I just don’t have time to talk about every single different option out there.  This is what you will need to make your home workout environment a success.     

1. Weights

Have some basic weights on hand.  You don’t need a fancy shmancy weight set to get toned and buff.  Or not buff, just toned.  A five, eight and ten pound set should be good.  Maybe a 15.  Another good thing to have on hand is a kettlebell or two.  This will lend to some variety in the home workout.  Last thing – a medicine ball is always fun.  If not to just let the kids play with while you try to get the real work done.     

2. Videos

I love working out with videos.  Like I said above, there are a lot of new fangled fancy internet workouts that I just can’t and don’t have the desire to get into.  If I tried to copy a workout from my computer, we would end up on watching and playing The Cat in the Hat games (by the way, happy bday to Dr. Suess!).  Not gonna happen.  I’m sticking with the DVD’s and the TV.

Have a handful of videos to rotate so that you don’t get bored and you don’t plateau on them.  All different types.  A couple of my favorites ladies to workout with are: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30.  

I don’t actually follow this from start to finish.  I just pick one that I want to do.  I like this because it incorporates some exercises that get your heart rate up.  It’s a 3-2-1 method of strength, cardio, abs.  And I like the random Jackie Warner one that I bought. 

Pretty basic.  She’s not very high energy or anything like JM, but it is a good workout.  Another one I love is the P90X, which I also don’t follow in any order or the way it should be.  I don’t like following directions.  I like to do things my way.  A couple of my favorite P90X ones are the yoga, and the plyometrics. 

You can get individual P90X dvd’s on ebay.  You can buy anything on ebay.  True story.

When I was doing one of my long runs on the gym treadmill with no headphones, I was stuck watching and reading closed captioning for this workout series….

I almost bought it.  If I had my credit card.  It was that convincing.  And I never had a single thought about needing to lift my rear before being subjected to this informercial.  And I would have ordered one for my sister, my mom, my friend, my friends mom and anyone else who has a rear.  I refrained.  Those Saturday morning treadmill long runs are dangerous.  Too many infomercials. 

Point being, have a variety of different workout dvd’s on hand.  Keep it fresh.              

3. Magazines

We all know how I feel about SHAPE magazine.  I rip out the workouts and put them in pretty little sheet protectors and stick them in a binder for a rainy day.  I like to do my own fun circuits at home, and these help ignite the workout with some ideas, if I need them.  The fun thing is that SHAPE always has different types of circuit workouts.  So, I  have quite the selection of exercises to choose from to give me ideas of what to do.  Some of them are really good.  Some, not so much.  I don’t rip those ones out.

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I even labeled the binder.  That way I don’t forget that I’m not in highschool anymore and that flashy pink binder is not my chemistry homework, but my spectacular collection of exercises.  Magazines are a great source for at home workouts. 

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4. Yoga mat

This is just a good thing to have on hand.  You can find them anywhere, for pretty cheap.   

5. Water bottle

Hydrate.  done.  no explanation except get it ready before you begin your workout so you aren’t stopping mid session to gulp down a glass.  leaving you with a horrible cramp and the excuse that you can’t finish because you feel like your stomach is ripping apart.  or you have bubbles sloshing around while you are doing jumping jacks.  

6. Snacks

This would be for the kids, if you have them, and are trying to keep them occupied while you are toning and buffing.  Set the kids up before you start with snacks, games, books, activities to keep them busy while you are doing your thing.  Think ahead of anything they could possibly want or need and take care of it first.  minimize interruptions.    

7. Convenience

Store your at home workout accessories in a place that is convenient to use and easy to get to, yet out of the way.  The last thing you need to be doing is gathering weights from the recesses of  your home, trying to find that 2lb dumbell and yoga mat.  Keep them all in a place that you can easily get to them to get going.   

8. Back to the basics and multi-task

Don’t underestimate the basic exercises; pushups, pullups, planks, tricep dips on a chair, etc.  You can use a lot of household items to assist in getting in shape.  Babies work pretty well too.  Strap that little person in a front carrier and start working.  Sit him on your belly and crunch time!  You think I’m kidding.  I’m totally serious.  These all work wonders for the muscles.  You can do a lot with your own body weight as resistance training and no weights at all.  I am all about multi-tasking my workout as well.  I don’t like to work just one body part.  I like to use different balance positions to challenge different muscle groups at the same time.  It’s like getting the most bang for your buck in terms of time spent exercising.  Why workout just your biceps when you can be doing quads at the same time.  No brainer to me.  In this recent issue of SHAPE, they had one of my favorite ways to do this – plie squats.  I will do plie squats with any and every upper body exercise.  Those, and lunges.  Fantastic.       


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 9. Timer

If you do like to do your own circuits at home, or out of a magazine or from a website – a timer is a must. 


This is a gymboss timer.  I don’t have one of these.  I just use an app on my phone that is a timer and it’s a pain in the butt because I have to physically stop, reset and pay attention to it.  I tried a bootcamp class, and this is what the instructor used.  It seemed like it worked pretty well.  You set the intervals – the workout and rest period that you want to do and it beeps when you are supposed to change.  No stopping, checking and resetting a stop watch.  nice.  and it’s pink.  even better.     

10. Cardio

If you are like me, and you like to get a GOOD cardio workout in, too – take it to the streets.  Put on the sneaks and get outside.  I have put many many miles in walking and running with two kids in a double jogger.  That’s pushing minimum 75 lbs.  That’s a workout.  Brisk walking is a great workout as well.  You could also think about investing in a piece of cardio equipment for your home.  My stairmaster has a very special place in my heart.  I’ve had it as long as I’ve had my oldest daughter.  Yes, she has a more special place in my heart.  Do not worry.  But, it was a good investment, and we bought it used.  It was a top of the line used, though.  So it’s not breaking down weekly.  Something to think about.   

Some other fun tidbits from SHAPE mag today.  This is one reason I love the stairmaster – I can read while I’m stepping.  Thank God I picked it up in the grocery store yesterday, otherwise I never would have known this useless but necessary information.

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  I guess I’m happy to be below average on that one.  At least for another 5 years!

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 43% less likely to catch a cold if you exerciseAnother reason to keep it moving.  150 minutes a week.  minimum.  you won’t get sick.   


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More proof that I MUST get some good earphones that like my ears and a good playlist going.  This might have confirmed that I should run the end of the marathon with music.  I better start training with it. 



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This ties in with the How to Friday post about being Happy.  Some of the things listed there are avocados, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, peppers and walnuts.  I have all of those things in my home right now.  I should be beaming with joy.  eat up! 

That’s all the fun I have for this Friday.  I was very excited about my long run tomorrow until I saw the weather forecast is 80% chance of rain.  I really love New England.  But I really want warmer weather.  Without rain.  blah.  It will not keep me down, it just might send me to the gym for 20.  can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning. 

Talk to me!

What are some of your fun workout at home tips and tricks?  Favorite workout DVD’s?  I’m always looking for good new ones!

How many of those ‘happy foods’ are in your home right now?

Who has races coming up?  Long runs this weekend?  Totally relaxing and enjoying life?



About msfitrunner

I am a 29 year old stay at home, hardworking mom to my three little loves! My oldest little darling is 5, little sis is 4 and baby brother is almost 2. I have been married to my Mr. Wonderful for almost 7 years (ahhh!). My faith and my family is my rock, and I have a newfound LOVE for running. Maybe it's more of a necessity at this point - to maintain household peace and my own sanity, but whatever it is, it's working for me and I'm loving the racing. The vegan world has been calling my name, so I am testing out those waters as well! That's a tough one with three little picky eaters at home, but I am having fun coming up with new recipes and trying out new things. Follow along as I chronicle this crazy running life, and ALL the craziness that goes with it!

6 responses »

  1. Using those stretchy exercise bands is always a good workout. Brandon seems to really like those! Personally, I find that I don’t do as well when I workout at home. But I’m sure after I have kids, I’ll change my tune due to sheer necessity!

  2. I had a gym membership for years, but since having kids, I have my own little gym in my basement. Much easier and more convenient.
    I also have that Jackie Warner dvd. It’s ok. I thought it was going to be a really tough workout (I mean, look at her!) but found it to be average. I have the Jillian Michaels trouble zones dvd, which is a decent workout.
    As for the “happy” foods, I have them all except the sardines (have never tried them) and the walnuts. I like almonds better.
    Enjoy your long run!

  3. I agree it is so important to get the kids set up. With my daughter I usually put together 4 or 5 different “stations” and have her rotate every 15 minutes or so. Then when she gets through all the stations, she gets to watch a short show. Works great. And with the baby, well, I just put him in his nap station and pray he stays asleep! That system is not as realiable…

    Planning on running the Knoxville 1/2 Marathon on April 1. Since I am new to the area, I actually went to a local running store to join a group training run of 10 miles. Going to a group run was definitely out of my box, and it was great!

    Always have avocados, chickpeas, peppers and walnuts around.

  4. I always had to work out before the kids got up. I know it meant a lot of early mornings. My kids are older and more self sufficient now but I still enjoy waking up early to get my workout in while the house is quiet, me time! I too like Jackie Warner’s DVDs and do pilates, along with the elliptical and running.

  5. It was a great post! I made my 4-year old do jillian Michaels with me…and the 9-year old used to do pilates with me – its the best way to keep them occupied and somewhere near me ( I just do not trust them when they are out of sight)
    Working out early does not work well with us – 1. my husband is grumpy because he ALWAYS claims I woke him up and 2. the kids get the wind I am up and get up as well grrrrrrrrr. We definintely need a HUGE house.
    But I basically have the same system of back-ups: DVDs and magazines (shape and runners world) to make up for gym, home trainer (bike) to make up for missed runs/do some alternative trainig.
    I admit I need to work on the nutrition, because I still tend to have sugary snacks at work and junk on my way home.
    A question: can you post your meal plans and approximate cals you consume/amouns of food? I am struggling in this area a bit and as I am training for my 1. marathon, I do not want to make too many mistakes! I actually need someone to kick my butt out of eating the crap, so feel free to do it! 😉


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