Pre-lockdown, I was no stranger to home workouts. However, the lockdown period means I’ve now done more home workouts than I’d ever have anticipated when I went home for the Easter vac. Even though they’ve definitely served their purpose, and I’ll probably still do them on occasion in the long run, I plan to return to the gym as soon as I feel safe in doing so – and here’s why.

Two major advantages of home workouts are their flexibility and convenience; you can do them from anywhere, at any time, without factoring in travelling to the gym. This makes them perfect for our eventual return to Oxford. Tute’s in 40 minutes? That’s 30 minutes to exercise, 9 minutes to shower and change, and 1 minute to run to your tutor’s office.

Home workouts are also very accessible because you can easily do them without equipment – you literally just need a bit of floor space, and you’re good to go. I’ve also loved how customisable home workouts are compared to gym classes, as you can add circuits or combine lots of 10-minute videos to tailor your workout to suit you.

All that being said, I am hugely looking forward to getting back to the gym. The average home gym set-up probably includes a gym mat, maybe some weights and a resistance band if you’re quite serious about it, and perhaps a treadmill if you’re really going to town. A gym, however, has far more on offer – even our small college gym has rowing machines, a leg press (how many people do you know with one of these knocking around the house?), a range of heavy weights, a lateral pulldown machine, and more. If you don’t use much kit then this isn’t such an issue, but for me, a lack of equipment means home workouts haven’t been as satisfying.

I also find that the quality of exercise is usually better in the gym – there’s something about being in a space dedicated to exercise that allows for better focus. I’m more likely to ignore Chloe Ting telling me to do crunches on my mat in my room, than I am to give up on an exercise in a class or on the gym floor.

Nonetheless, home workouts should not necessarily be kicked to the curb; here are some tips for trying them out as a gym accompaniment, or a gym substitute, depending on what you think would suit you.

  1. Explore all the resources available – check out Instagram, YouTube, livestreams, pre-paid plans, and more to find what works for you.
  2. Don’t stress if you can’t do an exercise straight away – just pick another exercise, do a modification, or do as much as you can then take a rest; focus on your own fitness journey, not how much a fitness influencer can do.
  3. Make the workouts work for you – combine short and long, arms and abs, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or LISS (low-intensity steady state). Don’t feel constrained to only livestreams or official programs, unless you find that helpful.
  4. Workout with a friend – as long as you can trust your friend to not give up and switch to Netflix party with you (and that you can trust them not to take screenshots at sweaty moments), you can do home workouts over Zoom – and it’s social too!

And if you enjoy structured workout videos, here are some recommendations on the best places to start:

For the Beginners:

POPSUGAR Fitness is a good starting place for home workouts. In my experience, the ongoing chatter as various trainers walk you through the exercises can be a little grating, but the workouts should be manageable for a newbie. They often also have multiple trainers, one of whom does ‘modifications’ (i.e. a slightly easier version of the exercise, also more suitable if you have an injury).

For the Intermediates:

Chloe Ting’s workouts are worth a try. Don’t be afraid to use her content in a flexible way to suit what you need – you could do arms one day and abs the next, instead of her ab challenge for two weeks.

I would also recommend some of MadFit’s more recent videos for this level, particularly her dance workouts, which are a lot of fun. Her older content is more suitable for those who want a challenge (especially her ab workouts!), but newer content is definitely manageable.

For the Advanced:

Pamela Reif’s workouts are an excellent choice for those who want something that will push them; personally, I’d recommend her leg workouts. She often does live workouts as well, so you can participate in real-time! I’d also suggest, as above, MadFit’s older content.

Natacha Océane also produces some very good, short but intense HIIT workouts, although the options on her platforms are a bit more limited because she produces paid guides as well. I particularly like how she explains the science behind some of her workouts (e.g. how HIIT actually works) drawing on her background in Biophysics, making the exercise feel more meaningful.

I hope this guide provides you with some insight into home workouts, and some food for thought if you’re deciding whether to head to the gym or persist with exercising at home. Whether you’re a budding bicep-curler or a practiced pull-upper, hopefully this has helped you work out the best type of workout for you!

Jessica Searle

Jessica Searle is a third year PPE student, and she loves reading - so much so that she once read 140 books in a year!