No gym? No problem!

Contributor: Karen Carlson, Owner YESKaren! Fitness

At-home exercising has come a long way since Jane Fonda sported legwarmers on the boob- tube. We have so many options today for gym-quality, instructor-led workouts that deliver a low or no- cost option to commercial gyms. The gym is a great place to interact with a community that encourages our fitness goals. HOWEVER, the gym isn’t the be-all and end-all for a successful fitness journey, so I want to offer you some at-home fitness ideas and exercises you can incorporate into any budget, schedule, and lifestyle.

Before we get started, there are a few key aspects of working out at home I need to address. First, you’ll need to educate yourself! Know your body; know your muscles; know what exercises you need to preform to work them, how many, and how often. A great, free, accredited resource for everything fitness is It has awesome video tutorials for any muscle group performed by expert trainers who will teach and motivate you. It also has great information about nutrition and supplements to help jumpstart or maintain a healthy fitness lifestyle.

Second, you need to find your own motivation if you’ll be working out at home, so get a buddy. Even if you can’t work out together, share your weekly exercise plan and check in with each other often. You will work harder, longer, and more consistently if you partner up, but stay focused and on-task to get the most out of your workouts.

Lastly, know what workouts you like and what you want to accomplish… but they may not align! So often people have goals of weight loss or body transformation, but they get stuck because they stay doing what’s comfortable or familiar with their workout routines. It may be cliché, but it IS important to find something you like or you won’t do it; however, depending on your goals, you may need to incorporate workouts you don’t love, like weight training or HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio, in order to accomplish what you want. Usually once you make something a habit and see results, you choose to like it.

Now here are some options for the budget-conscious, at-home fitness buff. To start, the internet is your best friend. You can find great workouts for any fitness level and taste. There are endless options, but here are some I recommend.

If you’re best motivated in a group setting, you can subscribe to any number of live or recorded online fitness classes for a low monthly fee. One that has received much acclaim and has partnered with 24 Hour Fitness is For a low monthly rate, you have access to their entire library of fitness classes led by trained professionals in a class setting. You get all the benefits and motivation of a class in the privacy of your home within the confines of your schedule, and you can sign up for a free trial to see if it’s right for you. If you want to do free Daily Burn classes, just subscribe to their YouTube channel and get notified when a free class is posted, then press play when you have time.

That brings me to YouTube. YouTube is a fantastic resource for the at-home, budget-conscious fitness enthusiast, but try to stick with channels supported by certified professionals or organizations. There are many noteworthy fitness channels, but one geared toward women I recommend is Athleen- XX for Women. There is a multitude of workouts for strength and cardio endurance by certified, female trainers. You can do one workout video or combine videos in your own playlist for a longer and more challenging workout.

That leads me to a fabulous feature of YouTube… the ability to create your own playlists! If you love to dance, search for fun and challenging dance fitness videos and add them to your own playlist. Make several playlists of different durations with different dance fitness videos that will challenge you. Each video will play consecutively, and you can add, delete, and drag videos around within your playlist easily from your PC. On my channel, I offer 30-Minute YESKaren! BOOTCAMPS that include challenging YESKaren! Fitness choreographed strength videos. I also have dance fitness playlists with different dance fitness videos that create complete one-hour classes that include a warmup, strength, and stretch, so anyone can enjoy a YESKaren! Dance Fitness class anytime, anywhere.

Create different playlists for your different workouts: Dance, Strength, Cardio, HIIT, Yoga, Kickboxing or combine genres…the possibilities are endless. Once you have your repertoire of playlists, just press play for whatever strikes your mood and achieves your goals in the time you have. You are the master of your workout!

Finally, you will need some basic equipment at home to get started. In my opinion, you will need:

  1. 2 Sets of Resistance Bands: long bands with handles & loop bands
  2. Sliders: big enough for your hands/feet for carpet & hard floors
  3. 3 Sets of Dumbbells: light, medium, and heavy (the weight is dependent on your fitnesslevel) OR an adjustable set with removable plates

Dumbbells can be pricey, so start with the bands and add the weights as you’re able. My two sets of resistance bands together cost me less than $35, and the versatility is endless. I’m able to duplicate many of the exercises I perform at the gym on machines and with free weights. Just make sure your long band set includes a door anchor, 1-2 ankle straps, and removable handles. On my YESKaren! Facebook page, I post links to my band sets as well as videos of me performing band exercises to work a variety of muscle groups. Remember, when doing any exercise, ALWAYS make sure you perform EVERY exercise with proper form at all times, and work your muscles to failure.

Don’t let the lack of a gym membership stop you from achieving your fitness goals. Get educated, grab a partner, find workouts you love and that achieve your goals, and invest in some quality home equipment that is durable and versatile. Get started with this at-home triceps circuit that’s challenging using only bands and sliders. Let this be the starting point of a wonderful journey of putting yourself and your health at the top of your to-do list. My hope is that fitness becomes more than a “must do” but a “can do” and a “get to” because we all are worth it AND have the potential to be someone else’s inspiration. Aspire to Inspire.

Follow Karen:
Instagram: @yeskaren_fitness
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The SO Edit, created by Salwa Owens to inspire, uplift, and support women in all aspects of their lives.


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