Home CommentaryStudent Life Be your own personal trainer

Be your own personal trainer

by The Concordian September 20, 2011

Graphic by Sean Kershaw

Do you feel like Tom Davis? In your downtime, do you only want to slump down on the couch and watch a Mythbusters marathon? If you are like Tom Davis, an electrical trade student, your only form of exercise is getting up during commercials to get more cookies.
It is normal for busy students to feel intimidated by the gym. Either it is out of the way, too pricey, or the other members make you feel out of place. “People at the gym seem to know I don’t want to be there,” explains Davis. “I end up feeling worse about myself, like I had stayed home and watched television instead.”
So how can someone possibly exercise without any concerns? Not to worry!  Do-it-yourself workouts will solve this dilemma. From creative equipment made out of household items to routines that only require your body as a tool, at-home workouts have never been easier.
First of all, it is important to take all the other factors of exercising into account. Dominic Pilon, a personal trainer at Physical Park in Vaudreuil, says to “never underestimate the benefits of stretching.” Apart from preventing various injuries, he explains, stretching prepares the body for any sort of effort and also helps keep muscles supple. Another element that should not be underestimated is breathing. During an exercise, it is necessary to inhale while tensing up your body and then to exhale while releasing the tension. A complete breath (inhaling and exhaling) should be completed for each repetition.
Sets and repetitions are also important to consider for a beneficial workout. Michelle St-Onge from Énergie Cardio in Valleyfield suggests that beginners start with 1 or 2 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.
“Someone who is more advanced could do 2 or 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions,” she says. “These are necessary points to keep in mind while working out at home since no one is there to watch over you.”
As for the exercises, the ones that do not require any equipment are the easiest to incorporate into a routine. Both Dominic and Michelle are adamant about cardio as a prime factor in staying healthy.
The most convenient and fast idea is to go for a jog around your neighbourhood, increasing your speed or time according to your comfort level. Popular exercises to perform after your heart is pumping are crunches, push-ups, squats and lunges. Other effective ones are the plank, the bridge and leg rotations off the ledge of a couch. To add some creativity, Pilon suggests using canned goods as weights. To add difficulty, you could also wear a school bag filled with books while squatting. If you think you might get bored, invite a friend to join in and blast some upbeat music to help you stay focused and energized.
Seeing people spend hours on end at the gym might lead you to believe that long workouts reap better results. Luckily, the same results can be achieved in twenty-minutes. As an example, here is a workout Pilon suggested. Begin by warming up with 15 repetitions of squats, split squats, 15 for each side, push-ups, burpees followed by a 30-second deep squat and another 30 seconds of running in place. Then continue with 20 repetitions of push-ups, crunches, single leg hip extensions (pushing off the wall to raise your hips while lying flat on the ground), 30 side to side lunges with weights of your choice, 15 single arm bent over rows (lifting weights one arm at a time while leaning over a bench), 15 single arm front raises with weights, a one minute front plank and 30 supermans (while lying face down, lift your arms and legs up at the same time).
Post-workout stretches are crucial to wind down.
Hopefully, these guidelines will help some people view their couches not as a place to pass out but to work out. “Creating my own workout helped me a lot,” Davis said. “I can focus on my exercises instead of everyone around me.” At the end of the day, you are the one that understands your needs the most. Besides, this alternative beats the smell of gym lockers any day.

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