What 'stay-at-home' exercise routines look like for the Fittest Loser contestants

  • Neil Madden spends a lot of time on his treadmill, but also lifts free weights.

    Neil Madden spends a lot of time on his treadmill, but also lifts free weights. Courtesy of Neil Madden

  • Contestant Van Dillenkoffer bought a set of resistance bands to use during his stay-at-home workouts.

    Contestant Van Dillenkoffer bought a set of resistance bands to use during his stay-at-home workouts. Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer

  • A smartphone app used by Van Dillenkoffer logs the time and distances run or walked.

    A smartphone app used by Van Dillenkoffer logs the time and distances run or walked. Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer

  • This smartphone program is one Barb Simon is using on her weight-loss journey.

    This smartphone program is one Barb Simon is using on her weight-loss journey. Courtesy of Barb Simon

  • There are a number of smartphone applications to help you meet your fitness goals.

    There are a number of smartphone applications to help you meet your fitness goals. Courtesy of Barb Simon

  • Barb uses barbell weights to increase the intensity of leg squats.

    Barb uses barbell weights to increase the intensity of leg squats. Courtesy of Barb Simon

 
By Colette Harris
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/19/2020 10:40 AM

Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety. Working out may be more important than ever during this extremely stressful "shelter in place" time.

While at-home workouts can't necessarily replace face-to-face interactions between personal trainers and clients, it's still possible to get a great workout in from the comfort of home with minimal equipment, says Joshua Steckler, owner of Push Fitness in Schaumburg.

 

"Of course there are several exercises that can be done with just body weight, but having a few sets of dumbbells, a few different resistance bands and a mat will allow for greater creativity with your workouts," he says. "Dumbbells and bands are good investments because they allow you to perform such a wide variety of exercises and they're fairly inexpensive."

Regardless of where you're exercising, Steckler believes strength training should account for a large portion of your routine. Push recommends doing three to five days of strength training with three days of cardio and stretching mixed in.

Steckler says a home workout might look like three rounds of a strength training circuit consisting of 30-second sets. Exercises include squat to overhead dumbbell press, back-step lunge to dumbbell curl, pushups, alternating dumbbell punches, and a plank hold. If you don't have equipment, you can still complete these exercises without weights or by using household items of a similar weight.

"Complete these five exercises for three rounds followed by a 15-minute outdoor jog," Steckler says.

Fittest Loser contestants are following Steckler's advice and using basic equipment and what's available to them around the house to get their workouts in. The keys to maintaining their exercise and nutrition regimens lie in setting a workout schedule and sticking to it, while leaning on the virtual support of their Push Fitness trainers and their loved ones at home.

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Like other contestants, Neil Madden is exercising while using resistance bands.
Like other contestants, Neil Madden is exercising while using resistance bands. - Courtesy of Neil Madden
Neil Madden

Although working out at home was a struggle at first, Neil Madden now has no problem completing his cardio workouts in his house thanks to his treadmill.

"I don't have to worry about the weather outside or time of day or night. I have no excuse not to walk or run two to three miles a day," Madden says.

While the treadmill serves a key purpose, Madden said not having access to other gym equipment has been the toughest part of exercising remotely.

"From the start of Fittest Loser, I have fallen in love with the StairMaster, elliptical, rowing machines, TRX strength bands, and hitting the heavy bags," Madden says. "I cannot wait to use them again soon."

Due to job demands, Madden's workouts are restricted to the evenings. He begins training at 7 p.m. with 30 to 45 minutes on the treadmill followed by 30-minutes of exercises, including weighted bar squats, pushups, pullups, situps and movements with dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He's grateful he purchased this basic exercise equipment just before the stay-at-home order went into effect. He has enough equipment to keep him motivated and has gotten creative with how he uses it, such as wrapping resistance bands around heavy coffee tables and banisters to increase resistance. Through it all, his trainer, Nicole Caliva, has supported him and offered words of encouragement.

"Nicole checks in with me several times a week. She sends me workouts and gives me motivational texts when I get frustrated that my weight loss isn't what I want it to be," Madden says. "If it wasn't for Nicole, I might have given up."

Fittest Loser Challenge contestant Jennifere Lux switched to a morning workout after the stay-at-home order was issued. She works out 30 to 45 minutes daily, with one rest day each week.
Fittest Loser Challenge contestant Jennifere Lux switched to a morning workout after the stay-at-home order was issued. She works out 30 to 45 minutes daily, with one rest day each week. - Courtesy of Jennifere Lux
Jennifere Lux

Jennifere Lux works out every morning for about 30 to 45 minutes, with one rest day a week.

Without cardio equipment at home, she walks or runs outside. Newly purchased resistance bands allow her to continue doing exercises learned at Push Fitness. The side of the couch comes in handy for pushups and she can use any wall in her house to hold wall squats.

Lux is also using all the Push Fitness resources available to her. She streams workout videos that Push trainers have posted online and does boxing exercises that her trainer, Steve Amsden, previously showed her. Amsden checks in with her after each weigh-in to make a plan for the following week and directs her to additional resources available to use at home.

"I still love boxing, but instead of sparring with Steve, I just spar in the air," Lux says.

Barb Simon works out at home with three-, five- and 10-pound sets of weights.
Barb Simon works out at home with three-, five- and 10-pound sets of weights. - Courtesy of Barb Simon
Barb Simon

Barb Simon quickly realized she needed to create a workout schedule she could stick to if she was going to stay on track while working out remotely. She now does her strength-training routines during every lunch hour and walks and runs right after work.

"Strength training consists of doing both weight-bearing exercises utilizing kettlebells and dumbbells and body-weight exercises for about 30 minutes," she says. "I walk or run outside for about 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer, depending on the distance of my walk and run."

Although Simon doesn't have all of the equipment that was available to her at Push, she's fortunate to have three-, five- and 10-pound pairs of dumbbells and 10- and 20-pound kettlebells at home. They reside in her home office, which now doubles as a gym.

Simon sends her trainer, Patrick Stille, pictures of her daily food and workout journal to help with accountability and Stille sends her workouts to do at home.

"Patrick has been an awesome part of my support system," Simon says. "He's been great to have on my side as not only a personal trainer, but as a friend."

While recording calories burned using a fitness tracker on his wrist, Van Dillenkoffer goes on lengthy walks with his wife each day.
While recording calories burned using a fitness tracker on his wrist, Van Dillenkoffer goes on lengthy walks with his wife each day. - Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer
Van Dillenkoffer

For Karl "Van" Dillenkoffer, time is on his side when it comes to fitting in workouts during quarantine. He is able to schedule workouts regularly and take advantage of working out outside on the warmest days.

His goal is to burn 1,200 calories a day. To achieve that, he and his wife walk five miles every day at the same time. Dillenkoffer then does an additional hour or more of cardio on his elliptical machine before dinner. He also completes strength-training workouts his trainer, Michelle Jeeninga, sends him and other workouts streamed or downloaded through multiple apps and websites.

"I am still committed to maintaining my weekly workouts and encouraged by my weight loss thus far," Dillenkoffer says.

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