Editor's note: Part five of USA TODAY's Working Out From Home (#WOFH) series focuses on maintaining your strength at home if you're used to working out in a gym. Sign up for Good Sports, our weekly newsletter that will bring you more home workout tips + stories of the good(!!) throughout the world of sports:
What would be your must-have items if trapped on a desert island? Or if, say, you were stuck at home for the foreseeable future because of a global pandemic? Suddenly, it’s no longer a silly conversation starter.
For most, the list includes a TV, cell phone, toilet paper and maybe alcohol -- and not necessarily in that order.
It’s hard to argue with those, but for me, the first pick is clear: my Peloton (and the wifi needed to operate it).
Peloton is known for its fancy stationary bikes – and maybe its less than pitch-perfect holiday commercial – that allow users to watch and ride with instructors and cyclists around the world. But the company also produces live and recorded classes for running, walking, boot camp, dance cardio, strength, yoga, stretching and meditation.
It takes creativity these days to stay active and engaged. Running the same three miles gets boring real fast. A person can do only so many pushups, situps and planks. Peloton’s app has thousands of classes in its catalog and more than 32 instructors producing new classes, although not as many as a few weeks ago with studio schedules scaled back due to safety concerns. There are musical set lists for just about every taste. I’ve been using it since January 2019 and have yet to repeat a class.
This makes the app a good alternative for those who don’t have a Peloton bike or can’t afford one. Speaking of expense, the app is actually free for a 90-day trial as long as you sign up by April 30.
The other aspect that’s hard to appreciate until you are a part of it, and more important now than ever, is the community – 2 million strong, according to Peloton. Click into a class and you may be bombarded by virtual high-fives, maybe even from instructors taking the same class in their living rooms.
“I think all of us knew we were part of something really cool before, and right now I feel like the Peloton community has become a real lifesaver for a lot of us,” said Denis Morton, a Peloton instructor since June 2017. “Exercise is our refuge now. A lot of times we get into this mindset like, ‘Oh I have to work out, and I don't have the energy for that.’ But then this becomes like a little oasis in our day.”
Morton teaches classes in cycling, strength, yoga and stretching. As part of USA TODAY’s Working Out From Home (#WOFH) series, Morton shares tips on how to successfully “stack” exercises, or take multiple classes in different disciplines on any given day.
“The best way to approach your schedule would be to mix it,” he said. “I would start every morning with some cardio just to really set the tone for your day and get your mind and your body awake. And then after some cardio if you wanted to add in 10 or 20 minutes of bodyweight strength and a good stretch that you use as an on-ramp into your day.”
The cardio and strength classes will leave you in a pool of sweat. At the other end are meditation and restorative yoga, where gentle (or not so gentle) stretches are held for several minutes. Both those types of classes are good to take in the evening and can help with sleep.
“My joke when I'm teaching is that we're going to do like a 20- or 30-minute organized nap,” Morton said. “It helps in supporting the joints and muscles. You start to get into the connective tissue so you actually stretch tendons and ligaments a little bit more. But that's sort of secondary.
“What really happens is you down-regulate your nervous system. You really tap into parasympathetic nervous system and you rest and digest and bring yourself into a space where you're really ready for the end of your day.”
So what is Morton’s typical workout these days?
“The ideal is like 30 minutes on the bike and 30 minutes of yoga. Thirty minutes on the bike gets my cardio in, it gets my heart rate up, it gets my mind awake, and as importantly as anything else it warms up my hips. Then I climb directly onto a yoga mat and with your body already warmed up and your mind already tuned, the bike really prepares you to receive the benefits of the physical practice of yoga. You could even do 20 and 20, but certainly within that 45 minutes or an hour I've got some cardio, some strength, some stretching and some calm. I feel like that prepares you for whatever comes the rest of the day.”