A Home Workout for Performers

No gym membership? No problem! Personal Trainer Samantha Rea puts together a workout for performers to try at home. 

By Samantha Rea

When TV presenter Emma Willis wants to sweat it out, she simply strolls into her garden and heads towards the shed, which she’s kitted out as a home gym. Packed with cardio equipment and weights, Emma and her BRIT Award-winning husband Matt have everything they need in their “shed of pain” to burn fat and stay fit.

EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa has waved a wellbeing wand over her garage, transforming it into a mecca for getting toned and trim, while BAFTA winner Jude Law and Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney also fine-tune their physiques in the privacy of their own home gyms.

They’re all well equipped for exercising in isolation - but what about the rest of us, whose salaries are less A-list, more ALDI? Staring forlornly through the window of a David Lloyd or an LA Fitness is the closest many of us will get to a full-body workout during lockdown – but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Even if your living space is barely bigger than a broom cupboard, you can exercise at home. Here’s how to improvise, so you can keep on top of the physical demands of your performance, once lockdown is over…

Resistance Rules

Put your own workout together by choosing a mix of these upper and lower body exercises, doing three sets of 8-12 repetitions for each one.

Upper body

Water bottles or tins of beans will provide light resistance for upper body exercises such as lateral raisespec fly and front raises, if you hold one in each hand.

Lower body

To challenge the bigger muscles in your lower body, put books, tins or water bottles inside a rucksack. Find the right weight for you, and if there’s space, stuff it with newspaper or clothes, so the tins etc. aren’t rolling about. Adjust the rucksack so it fits securely, ideally also fastening straps around your waist. Wear it while doing squats and lunges mixing it up to include lunge-kicks as well as alternate forward lunges - and make the most of any space to do walking lunges.

You’ll also be able to wear the weighted rucksack for tricep dips, planks and press-ups, if you need extra resistance. 

Note: all of these exercises are also great to do without the added weight!

Step Up

If you live in a house – or a block of flats with a communal staircase – incorporate the stairs into your workout. Walk to the top (the more flights the better) and instead of just doing this once, do it three/five/ten times in a row, gradually increasing the number of times you do it.

Challenge your lower body (and raise your heart rate) by wearing a weighted rucksack as you climb the stairs, and/or progress to taking the stairs two at a time.

If you do box jumps in the gym, replicate the exercise at home by jumping onto the bottom step, landing with your knees bent and your feet just wider than hip-width apart, then step (or jump) back down and repeat five times. Build up to three sets of 8-12 repetitions, resting between each set or alternating with an upper-body or abs exercise. To protect your joints, make sure you’re fully warmed up before doing box jumps - five minutes of walking up and down the stairs should do the trick!

You’ll find more ways to work with stairs here.

Watch and Learn

Instagram is great for getting sweaty with your favourite celebrities, with First Dates’ Fred Sirieix and Love Island’s Laura Whitmore inviting followers to join them for live workouts.

YouTube workouts are also free to do, and there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a 20-minute high energy HIIT workout to get your endorphins flowing for a feel-good boost, or an hour slow flow Vinyasa to calm your breathing, and calm your mind, relieving any anxiety. 

Read our article about how yoga can calm nerves.

Use the search function on YouTube to put in the length, style and level of workout you’re looking for. Include keywords such as "low impact” or “no impact” in your search if you have problems with your knees or ankles - or if you’re trying to be quiet so you don’t disturb downstairs neighbours.

Look for “bodyweight” or “no equipment” if you don’t want to improvise with weighted backpacks or water bottles, and search for “standing only” if you don’t have a mat. Alternatively, a thick towel or two can be handy for any floor work, e.g. lying on your back to work your abs, and a cushion can be useful for your knees if you do box press-ups or three-quarter press-ups.

Samantha Rea is a qualified studio instructor and personal trainer. During her brief foray into acting, she featured in adverts and demo videos for exercise equipment, and as a journalist, she has covered fitness fads including Heavy Metal Yoga, the Yummy Mummy Workout, and a Crowd Surfing Festival Fitness class.

Image by Jonathan Borba via Unsplash.