Exercising solo: 5 great workouts to do alone

Are you one of those people who prefer to exercise solo? You’re actually not alone. There are various reasons why people prefer their own company when exercising. It may be that you’re too self-conscious to be in a group, or you are uncertain about what to do at the gym, or maybe you just want to focus on your own goals. Whatever the reason, here are some ways you can exercise without having to socialise.

Hire a personal trainer – Personal trainers are not for celebrities only, and they don’t have to be that expensive. For $60 per session, you can hire personal training sessions in your home. Rick Sanders, from Body Force personal training, leaves his clients with a set program designed specifically for them, which they can do in between their sessions. “I design a simple exercise program they can perform without needing to go to the gym. Body weight training is suitable for everyone no matter how heavy you are. If you can stand up and walk around, you can do these exercises,” he says.

Sarah Josephsen, manager and personal trainer at Climb Fit Sydney, says by having a program from a fitness trainer, you can be assured that the exercises you’re doing won’t aggravate whatever previous injuries you have. “Hire a personal trainer and just try one session. Get them to write a program and check your technique. You can update your program with them maybe every six weeks and you can do it at your own time.”

Even though you prefer to exercise on your own, having someone check on your progress helps keep the motivation up. A 2007 Stanford University study in the US showed that regular telephone calls, from either a live health educator or an automated computer system, made a huge difference in people’s exercise habits. The calls encouraged inactive adults into a regular 150-minute exercise program each week.

Exergaming – It’s time to turn your game console into a fitness console. The exergaming world has come a long way since the international hit Dance Dance Revolution was released. There are many fitness games for your Wii, Playstation or Xbox that will get you huffing and puffing in no time. Some of the games you can try out are Just Dance 4, UFC Personal Trainer, Nike+ Kinect Training, Zumba Fitness Core, Dance Central, The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout, EA Sports Active and Wii Fit plus. They’re exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own lounge room, and in your underwear if you prefer.

These games can track your progress based on the time you’ve put in, the estimated calories you’ve burned, calculate your BMI, and even do weigh-ins as you start the game. The American College of Sports Medicine gave its tick of approval to EA Sports Active, saying it has a healthy effect on body composition if used regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle. A study from the University of Wisconsin in 2008 showed that while playing Wii Sports doesn’t burn as much calories as playing the real sport, it can be a suitable workout and a great option for those who don’t want to get out of the house to exercise. Playing 30 minutes of Wii Boxing burns 216 calories, which is 51 calories more than brisk walking.

Jog, walk, hike with an app – Jogging has definitely taken off as one of Australia’s favourite physical activities. A survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2012 revealed that the number of people jogging or running has doubled since 2005-06. Nearly eight percent of Australians over 15 years old participated in running or jogging last year. And like with everything else these days, there’s an app to help you keep track of your progress. Some of the apps available include RunKeeper, Couch-to-5K, and iMapMyRun+.

These apps use your phone’s GPS to measure distance, elevation, duration, speed and pace. The Couch-to-5K app helps new runners move off the couch gradually every day to eventually finish a five kilometre run in nine weeks. The ABS survey also says walking is the most popular activity in Australia in 2011-2012. Maybe because it’s so easy to do – just put on a pair of comfortable sneakers and off you go. “Anything you can do to be active, like going for a bushwalk, or bike ride around the park, can get good results if you do it regularly. The key is you have to be consistent,” Sarah says.

Swimming – Australia builds more domestic swimming pools (per capita) than any other country in the world. It’s not a surprise since Aussies love the water. According to the ABS survey last year, eight per cent of Aussies love to go swimming. Hit your local public swimming pool for a couple of laps, there are bound to be one near your place. You can either pay for a membership or just pay the entry fee, which starts from around $5.

Most of your local swimming pool has an indoor heated pool for those cold winter months, so there’s really no excuse even when it’s freezing outside. Swimming is also a low impact exercise, which means it keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body. It’s an all-over body workout since you’re using nearly all of your muscles. “The more you exercise the more you become comfortable with your body. You lose the kilos, become stronger, more relaxed and get a better sleep at night,” says Rick.

Home circuits – Jealous of Gwyneth Paltrow’s pins? You don’t need thousands of dollars to get the same effect. You can buy celebrity trainers’ DVDs nowadays, including ones by Tracy Anderson, the fitness guru who sculpted Gwyneth’s legs. With DVDs, you can also try out various exercise craze like the Barre Body, which fuses ballet barre conditioning, yoga and pilates. Home circuits are also easily downloadable from the Internet. Sarah gives a big thumbs up to Michelle Bridges’ 12 week Body Transformation, saying most of her clients do the program since it has different levels to suit each person.

To avoid injuries, Rick says you have to focus on the technique and breathing. “Stop when your form deteriorates. If your form breaks down, there is a higher chance of injury. Watch your immediate surroundings and keep a nice tight stomach to help balance the core.”

Daniela Stevens, fitness blogger and mum of four kids, has never joined a gym since having her kids. She is a big fan of resistance and interval training, which she’s been doing for 15 minutes a day for the last six years. Daniela found the Fit Yummy Mummy regime on the Internet after a personal trainer recommended it to her. She does it for 90 minutes each week, which fits in with her schedule as work at home mum.

“My favourite is the Kettle bell swings. Do these fast for 60 seconds and walk on the spot for 30 seconds and repeat 15 times. It gives you an amazing workout.” Daniela finds that exercising solo is the way to go, as she needs flexible hours, and sometimes has four kids watching her do her exercises. “I was so down and depressed with my unhealthy lifestyle that I was the only one that was going to change it. No one else was going to melt my 30 kilos of excess fat off me,” she says.

To motivate yourself, put on some cool music. Remind yourself that you’re going to feel amazing after you’ve done it. Set your goals and track your progress along the way.

However, Sarah cautions about recommending one exercise for everyone. “You can’t say that this one exercise is good for everyone without looking at the person individually. People have injuries or problem areas that inhibit some exercises. It’s hard to say the exercises to do at home if you don’t know anything about a person as some exercises might aggravate injuries.” The safest way to go is to check with your GP beforehand and to always listen to your body when working out.

What exercise do you like to do on your own?

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