How to stay fit at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Kilter Fitness in Libertyville is empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still ways to keep fit at home.

    Kilter Fitness in Libertyville is empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still ways to keep fit at home. Photo courtesy of Tyler Erlandson

  • Despite the fact most fitness facilities are closed, like Kilter Fitness in Libertyville, you can still stay fit at home.

    Despite the fact most fitness facilities are closed, like Kilter Fitness in Libertyville, you can still stay fit at home. Photo courtesy of Tyler Erlandson

  • Cheryl Gudinas of Naperville, a personal trainer, tells us how you can still set up fitness routines for your kids.

    Cheryl Gudinas of Naperville, a personal trainer, tells us how you can still set up fitness routines for your kids. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Gudinas

 
 
Updated 3/30/2020 8:45 AM

Six feet by about three feet.

That's the space I have in my dining room for my daily workouts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Yep, my dining room, sandwiched carefully between my hutch and the patio door. There are a few dumbbells in the corner, and a place to jump rope on the hardwood floor near the front door.

This is life in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing. Doing the best we can with what we have until life returns to normal.

For those of us who like to work out, who are concerned about our health and fitness and conditioning, these have been trying times. Especially with temperatures outside still rather chilly, how do we exercise and stay in shape when outside play is limited and the gyms we love and rely on so heavily have been shut down due to the pandemic.

We do dining room workouts.

Luckily, my gym, CrossFit Kilter in Libertyville, is putting together online workouts for its members that are perfect for anywhere, even the dining room.

"The biggest thing right now is to give yourself a little grace," said my Kilter trainer, 25-year-old Tyler Erlandson, a 2012 Libertyville High School graduate who has been a personal trainer for the last five years.

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"Everyone is a little stressed. This situation is frustrating. If you don't eat exactly the way you want, it's OK. It's not the end of the world. And if your workouts aren't what you're used to, that's OK. You can do what you can at home, and you can also get creative."

Erlandson reminds us that calories can be burned simply by working in your flower bed, or taking on a painting project inside, or playing catch or tag in the backyard with your kids.

For those who want a more traditional workout, body weight moves are key. Those can be done anywhere, even in the dining room, without any equipment.

"Pushups, situps, air squats, burpees are all really good to do and you can modify them in so many ways," Erlandson said. "You can use your stairs, too. Go up and down the stairs, skip stairs, go two stairs up, and one down. You can do step-ups and knee raises there, too.

"If you want to add weight but don't have dumbbells, use jugs of laundry detergent, or gallons of milk or water. Use a full laundry basket, or pick up your kids and squat with them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And if you're missing the tribe mentality of your gym, even just one workout buddy can fill that void.

"If you need motivation, or you need to be held accountable, challenge people in your family or one friend to workouts so that you still have a little bit of that community feel," Erlandson said. "Find that one person who can keep you accountable and get on the same page as them. Check in with them. Race them on workouts. There are a lot of things you can do together."

Kids need workouts, too

And while you're coming up with at-home workouts for yourself, don't forget about your kids.

Kids are without recess now, and they aren't running around with their friends, or participating in their organized sports. They need daily physical activity, too.

Naperville resident Cheryl Gudinas has been a private personal trainer for nearly 30 years.

While a student at Downers Grove North High School, Gudinas took up racquetball and eventually became the No. 1 female racquetball player in the world. She has taught kids the game, and has also worked with kids on general fitness and conditioning.

Lately, Gudinas has been thinking outside the box, too, when it comes to her own fitness.

The other day, she took a "cold weather" bike ride. She's also researched open parks all over the suburbs that have unique features. She found the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove and traveled all the way there from Naperville just so that she could run the stairs alongside the ski jump hill.

She encourages parents to go "park-hopping" with their kids.

"One of the good things about this is that now you're starting to see kids outside at the parks instead of inside with their video games," the 52-year-old Gudinas said. "Kids can do all the body weight stuff like pushups and situps and abs and planking, but you can also make it fun. You can work on jumping, and skipping and footwork. For cardio, you can give them a course through the neighborhood or the park to run. Tell them, 'turn left on that street, then right and so on.'

"So many people, including kids, are desperate to get out and do something right now. Hopefully, this gives us the chance to teach kids about the value of fitness again."

So whether you're in your dining room or in the park chasing your kids, keep working out everyone. We'll be back at the gym soon and you'll want to be able to keep up.

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