In the articles I write for Southeast Living, I often talk a lot about what NOT to have in your home but there is a list of things I either have made a priority to have in my home or are on my grand wish list because they are important to creating a healthier living environment and supportive of healthier lifestyle choices. One of those that recently skyrocketed to the top of the list is a home gym.
Some of you may know that my first professional certification was that of a personal trainer and I briefly managed a community fitness center before going back to college to finish my bachelor degree in Exercise Science. I loved being in the gym! I had an all clubs membership to 24 Hour Fitness from 1995 – 2005 despite moving 3 different states over the years, and only gave it up (with extreme distress) when we moved to Bellingham, where there was no affiliated gym. I thrived on the ability to literally be at the gym any time of day or night. I also worked out at my school gyms, participated in other group fitness classes and used a few personal trainers to train me. Despite that, I would never have considered myself an extreme fitness enthusiast and my physical results were only fair. I followed some very basic theories I had been taught about fitness and exercise that have over the years proven to be not very accurate. Despite choosing to attend Naturopathic Medical School – largely because of the focus on diet and exercise as key to health, I found I really still got caught up in a standard attention to labs, and tests, and medications (both prescription and natural) while forgetting to major on some of the foundations of health like nutrition, movement, mind-set and sleep. My understanding of exercise and physical medicine has evolved significantly even in just the last year. I still love being in a gym, but I’m finding that creating space and having a few tools at home are critical to my renewed commitment to intelligent exercise. I’m going to share with you just a couple powerful quotes that I’ve been re-learning to apply myself and a couple of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment to have at home that do not require an entire room, but can be used in a small shared space. Hopefully they will help you have more success at incorporating exercise into your home.
One of the most important pieces of adopting a fitness protocol is your mind-set. Something my friend from medical school and a leader in the fat-loss world, Dr. Jade Teta, ND, says: “Easy is Earned”. Truth. Let that sink in. We look at people who seem to have “it” all together and think, “Not Fair! They make it look so easy when it is soooooo hard!”…. and sometimes (most times) it is hard – very hard. I’ll let you in on a secret -nothing is too difficult if you want it bad enough. Nothing is impossible when you have the right mind-set, knowledge, tools and support. The key to success (IMO) is laying a foundation for success. Health and fitness are far easier to maintain than to achieve. It will get easier. It will become your lifestyle, your character. So every morning commit to making choices that serve your goals. Those choices made consistently become habits that cultivate results. Seek out experts. Recruit friends and family or bring in new like-minded people to your tribe. Then get started. Repeat. You will find this process is like a dance – one step forward, two steps back, then maybe leap ahead only to shuffle back. The important thing is that you keep learning and moving. Which brings me to the second quote by Dr. Teta, ND: “You are building a body, not trying to win a race.” The greatest creations take time and attention and refinement. So will your path to health, wellness, and fitness. Let go of the antiquated reliance on counting calories, numbers on a scale, pounds lost, how long your cardio workout was or if you set a new PR (personal record) with your weight training. Please do not fall victim to the quick fix or latest miracle cure fad. None of that leads to lasting change and often does more damage to your health and long term success. Instead focus on steady results. There is a long list of quality markers that are of far more value to consider. A few are: How is your vitality improving? Have your labs changed? How is your body shape different? Do you sleep better? This is where someone with extensive training and experience in the fields of Exercise Physiology and Nutrition can be your greatest asset. They will guide you to smart programs based in science and proven to be both effective and lasting. You want programs that are about lifestyle changes, not temporary protocols.
It’s not always possible to get to the gym. So for those days, you need a way to keep moving at home. We currently live in a little condo on the top floor of the building. No yard to utilize and no extra rooms. I keep a yoga mat, a foam roller, a set of kettle bells, and a set of dumb bells all tucked into a dedicated place. They hardly take up any room at all and are easy to take out and use and put right back. Of course I have more on my wish list! The other thing I have is a couple of good short workouts on my laptop that I purchased from Dr. Jade Teta, ND at www.metaboliceffect.com. He is an expert on rest based training and smart training. These are great for when I have limited time and need “someone else” to keep me motivated and moving. Otherwise, I have written out a few series of workouts that I can do right in my little home that predominately combines cardio and weights. No, I don’t have room for heavy weights here – I do use those at my gym. What I do have is a my own body weight. No excuses – you only need yourself to get a great workout! A book to get you started that I recommend is You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren. My current favorite body weight exercises involve squats. They are a primal and essential movement that we have abandoned in our daily lives; it’s just not part of our culture. People think they can’t squat because they have a bad back, or bad knees or bad hips – I would argue those joints often hurt and don’t function the way they should or could because we are deconditioned. Squatting (properly) will restore both strength and function while alleviating pain. Find a healthcare professional to help guide you into starting safely. The other thing I highly recommend doing as often as possible is simply walking. A stress reducing, leisurely walk has profound effects on the endocrine and nervous system.
The take home message is this: your body is your home. You are building that body everyday with the choices you make to keep moving with intelligent exercise. You are capable of great physical health and it does take work. You may need a coach or a trainer, or other healthcare provider to guide you – but you can do it. It is the best investment you’ll ever make.
Dr. Summer Beattie, ND is a graduate of Bastyzr University. She has over 8 years experience as a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in women’s health with an emphasis on environmental medicine. Having served two terms on the board of directors for the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians, she has also worked in the medical aesthetics field since 2008. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or