It seems like our whole lives went online last year. Our work lives, social lives and of course, our fitness regimes went virtual too.
As online workouts became the norm, we started to realise the benefits – namely, no more travelling to the gym, saving us time and money.
The downside of online exercise has also now become apparent.
People are missing the psychological mindset change you get from going to another physical location specifically for exercise.
Although travelling to the gym can take time, it also helps us. Once we’re on the road, we know we’re halfway there. We arrive and we do the workout because the space is all set up for the job. It’s unlikely that we’ll turn around and go home.
It’s a different story with home workouts.
The ‘escape’ from home and work into a space full of motivating associations and in-built ‘me time’ disappeared when we relocated our exercise space to our living rooms.
Now after a year of trying to keep fit at home, more people are realising just how important a role our environment plays when it comes to reaching health goals.
This is obvious to those who don’t have space at home to use exclusively for exercise (let alone a home gym).
However, if we can overcome this initial challenge and get our homes to support us, there are many benefits of online sessions, as I discovered through a recent collaboration with Gila Archer, a Pilates teacher based in a completely different part of the country to me.
Gila had actually started to move her teaching online prior to the pandemic. Creating pre-recorded workouts for her students really helped those who worked shifts and busy mums whose schedules didn’t always fit with classes.
As her online community grew, Gila was able to connect more with her students throughout the week and she started to notice the connection between their home and their pilates practice.
Delineation equals motivation
Gila and I discussed at length how the blurred boundaries around time and space at home create distractions and prevented the consistency and habit building that is vital to getting results from exercise.
So, the idea is to create an environment in your home that enhances and optimises your practice in the way that the gym or sports centre did; an environment that means ‘opting in’ to your sessions is your default position. As Gila brilliantly termed it, we’re creating a ‘success space’.
I love this concept, because I often talk to clients about making intentional choices about their home and ensuring things are where they are ‘on purpose’.
So, what should you consider if you want to make a fitness ‘success space’ in your home?
Choosing the right space
Moving from one space to another is ideal. Creating a mini-commute will help you opt-in psychologically speaking, which will get you into a frame of mind similar to going to the gym.
If you don’t have enough room for a permanent exercise space, think about the easiest option, ie, where obstacles can be cleared out of the way quickly. It may even be worth a redesign of the living room or bedroom in order to claim your ‘success space’.
If you have other people in your household, there may need to be a little negotiation around the use of spaces. If you make a contract with them, it can work to your advantage – resulting in them giving you a nudge to do your practice. “Hey, you said you’d be in this room at 6 and I could have it at 6.30!”
Optimising the space
When you have chosen a space, how can you set it up so that exercising is easy?
House your mat and equipment so that it is easy to access. Workout storage could be a whole cabinet, an ottoman or simply a woven rope basket. Keeping the space tidy and ready for your sessions means you won’t be distracted when you enter the room for your next workout.
Think about how you can change the lighting to get yourself in the right frame of mind. With Bluetooth controlled, dimmable, coloured light bulbs you can change the whole mood of a room in an instant, from task to ambient… or disco!
Computer & audio visual
This is worth taking some time to get right. Fiddling around with laptops and mobiles can cause us to miss out on some really great online fitness programmes.
Screen size and position is key. Maintaining a view of a laptop or mobile screen throughout an exercise routine is not easy. Depending on the space and your budget, there are things you can do to avoid moving your laptop around and interrupting your flow during a workout.
You could start with getting a larger external monitor that you can see easily, whether you’re standing upright or lying on the floor. Also, with an added desk arm mount you can easily swivel a screen to any position.
If you’re using a tablet or iPad, you could get a flexible floor stand which you can extend up to eye level.
Keeping a separate device – whether a laptop or tablet – purely for your workouts would be a good way of delineating home time from fitness time, and will make sure you have your workout resources to hand.
Having a good quality audio can be really motivating as well. If loud speakers are not an option, consider bluetooth earbuds which will give you the freedom to move around.
Other things to consider when creating a motivating exercise or wellness space
Hang pictures on the wall of whatever is inspiring or positive for you. That could mean family photos, beautiful landscapes, or an empowering quote in a frame.
Textures: Whether you want a calm, focussed zone, or to feel fresh and invigorated, think about the materials you touch during your session.
Biophilia: Incorporating plants in your home has been shown to have hugely restorative benefits, as do natural materials. Having them in your wellness space will, by definition, add value.
Create your ‘success space’ now and you’ll reap benefits in the long term
“When you can be consistent in your exercise, enjoy it and it’s easy, it just happens as part of your everyday life; that’s when you reap the short and long term rewards of being physically and mentally fit and strong,” says Gila Archer.
If you’re looking for advice, motivation and support in creating space for change, drop me a line.