Countless disruptions have come from the coronavirus outbreak. Many office workers are now restricted to electronic communications, and children are home all day. A less noticed disruption is happening to those who are used to regularly working out at gyms that may now be closed.
Even though gym equipment can be disinfected, many trainers and gym operators are closing fitness centers out of the same "abundance of caution" cited by many officials and businesses during this pandemic. The risks of spreading the virus at this time may just not be worth it, they say.1
A few days of not working out may not be cause for alarm. But no one knows how long the coronavirus quarantines, which are often called "sheltering in place," could last. They could persist for weeks or even months. Those who have worked for years to acquire their top fitness don't want their hard work lost.
While we have reached the golden age of fitness where quality gym machines are available for the home, many do not have such equipment or even the extra space such equipment requires.
Luckily you don't need anything more than a mat or soft surface to maintain an effective exercise routine. Here are some ideas top trainers suggest if the gym or fitness center you have been going to has closed its doors for the time being.
Start Your Home Workout With Burpees
At the top of your home workout list should be burpees, says personal trainer Bryan Goldberg.2 "No matter where you are in the fitness spectrum, there aren't many things [that] are so simple but have such a profound effect as a burpee," he says.
What is a burpee? Also called an — "up-down," "front lean," "jumping pushup" or "squat thrust" — a burpee is essentially a squat, a kick of the feet backward into a pushup plank, and jump-back into the squat position followed by a stand.3 Burpees are named after Royal Burpee, who perfected the maneuver in 1939 while working on his Ph.D. in physiology. Mel magazine writes:4
"According to an interview with Burpee’s granddaughter Sheryl Dluginski that appeared in The Huffington Post, the physiologist had intended the burpee to serve as an exercise that could be used to quickly elevate a trainee’s heart rate after baseline resting measurements had been taken, providing a good picture of general cardiovascular fitness.
It became a part of a general U.S. military fitness test in 1942, during which trainees attempted to complete as many burpees as possible in under a minute. Forty-one was considered excellent."
Burpees work most of the major muscle groups while simultaneously boosting cardiovascular fitness, balance and coordination, according to Coach magazine.5 Moreover, it’s an exercise you can do without going to the gym or having gym equipment. Coach magazine adds:6
"All that’s needed is the steely determination required to get you through them … and perhaps an understanding neighbor who won’t complain about the frequent jumping up and down."
Craig Peters, who performed an astounding 67,000 burpees in one year, says, "I do feel fitter — I’m much leaner, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time." Peters said he used to have back problems but not since doing burpees for a year. "It’s made my body stronger and more flexible. It’s little things like running for a bus or going upstairs — you certainly feel a difference. It’s a hell of a lot easier."7
You don't have to do 100 burpees to receive their benefit, says Goldberg. He suggests starting at your fitness level, perhaps doing only 10 burpees, and following them with a similar amount of pushups and squats for a total body workout.8
Burpees Can Be Made More Difficult or Easier
If your gym workout is tough and you want to maintain an equally intense home workout, here are ways to "turbo charge" your burpees according to fitness magazines.
Chest-to-floor burpee — This burpee is the same as a standard burpee except that you lower your chest to the floor during the plank position for the press-up before you jump back up.9
Burpee tuck jump — This burpee is the same as the standard burpee except that you raise your knees to your chest when you leap into the air afterward. This will ensure your jump is as full as possible and it increases cardio benefits.10
Dumbbell burpee — For this burpee, hold a hexagonal (not circular) dumbbell in each hand and perform the burpee the same way.11
Burpee to box jump — This starts out as a standard burpee but you jump onto a box when you rise, landing in a squat position, then standing up straight.12
One-legged burpee — This differs from a standard burpee in that you only use one leg to assume your plank position and to get up from it and jump. You then do the same thing with your other leg.13
One-legged burpee with skater — This differs from the one-legged burpee since as soon as you stand up on one leg you do a "skater's jump" to your other leg and then execute another one-legged burpee.
All these burpees enhance the muscular strengthening and cardio benefits of the exercise. But there are also ways to make your burpees less difficult when you practice them — at least at first.
• Walk back squat thrust — This is a standard burpee without the end jump.14
• Half burpee — This is a standard burpee but you do not rise to a standing position; you stay in a squat before doing the next half burpee.15
• Squat thrust with support — This is a standard burpee but your arms are on a box for elevation, not on the floor.16