When we relocated to Copenhagen, Denmark 8 weeks ago we opted not to seek out a gym membership, at least not initially. With our central location and the great summer weather, we figured it wasn’t something we needed to prioritize.
But, after 18 months of Orange Theory Fitness and then a year of having a state-of-the-art gym right in our building, I felt pretty spoiled and had to put some thought and effort into what my new routine would be without a designated class or easily accessible gym to keep me accountable. Now that I’ve completed two months of independent workouts, I thought I’d share some tips.
I’ll start by saying that I’m more of an independent exercise person than a group workout person, and always have been. I also much prefer to get exercise outside and for function, as much as possible (like walking the dog, biking to get groceries etc). However, the past few years have shown me that making that time for myself is really important and that having dedicated time each week for physical activity does a lot for my mental health and confidence.
Since we don’t have a car I tend to be pretty active on a daily basis, but I decided to set my weekly workout goal at 3x per week. There have been weeks where I’ve done more, and weeks where I’ve done less if we’ve had really active days.
Goal: 3x Per Week
Workout: 1 mile jog + 15-25 minute Circuit
My workout varies each time, but my general routine is to take Walter and do a 1-mile jog. We go *very* slowly (about a 10-minute mile) and my goal here isn’t necessarily speed or to increase the distance, it’s really just to get out the door, get my body moving, maintain some basic cardio endurance, and get some exercise in for Walter.
At the halfway point in the run is a great spot where we sometimes stop to either run stairs or do box jumps. I just see how I feel when I get to that point and how much time I have. It’s about a 50/50 split of when I throw something like that in there mid-run and when I don’t.
When we get home I do a 15-25 minute circuit of varying at-home exercises using only a yoga mat (okay, to be honest I haven’t purchased a yoga mat yet, and I just use a blanket as evidenced by the photo below). I am thinking about getting a 20 or 25-pound dumbbell eventually to supplement some of the exercises, but for now, it’s been fine sans equipment. I use the Bit Timer App (pictured above) to plan these, and highly recommend it! I made a list of exercises that I enjoy doing (various ab exercises, squats, push ups, tricep dips, planks etc) and I select 4-5 of them to do each day.
To use Bit Timer simply tell it how much “Work” you want to do (I have it set to 1 minute), how much “rest” you want in between (I have it set to 10 seconds) and how many times you want it to repeat — I have it set to repeat 12 times, but sometimes do 16 or 20 depending on how long I want to work out. Once you hit “play” the screen turns green and starts counting down your first 1-minute set. I usually do 4 different exercises for 1 minute each (and repeat that 3, 4 or 5 times depending on if I’m doing a 12, 16 or 20-minute workout).
I highly recommend trying Bit Timer if you are trying to do at-home workouts, and especially if you are just starting to try integrating a workout routine. You can start with a workout as short as 6 or 9 minutes (do 3 of your favorite exercises for 1 minute each and repeat 2 or 3 times) and then work your way up. Start with simple exercises that you enjoy, and then modify them to make them harder or work in more difficult ones.
That’s it for my workouts, currently! However, I wanted to share a couple of additional tips about running. I don’t really enjoy running, and I know I’m not alone there. However, doing my little 1-mile jog 3x per week has become pretty enjoyable for me and I thought I’d share some of the products + tips that have been helping.
Get you a cute dog. Duh, running is just more fun with a dog by your side. But really, Walter motivates me to get up and go because I know he enjoys it and that he needs it (he’s lost 2 pounds). See also: “Should You Get a Dog?” before you actually get you a cute dog.
Get a good pair of headphones. I got a pair of Sudio Tres when we moved, and they’ve been a huge game changer for me. Apple Headphones have always been too big for my ears. They hurt and don’t sit right and they fall out the second I try to run. I had never owned a pair of Bluetooth headphones before, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back. The Tres have a small cord that connects the two headphones together, but there is no cord going to your phone. It’s nice not to have a cord flopping around or draped down your arm when you’re jogging. The Sudio Tres have flawless Bluetooth connectivity, are easy to use, quick to charge and come with changeable earpieces in different sizes so that you can get the perfect fit for you. Sudio is offering you 15% off a pair with code THYMEISHONEY at checkout. Bonus: I also uses these when I make phone calls from my phone or computer! Great for conference calls.
Trick yourself into it. If I wake up in the morning and *really* don’t want to go for a run, I just tell myself that I’ll walk the route instead. I get up, get my clothes on, get out the door, and you know what? 100% of the time I end up running anyways. Sometimes ya gotta lie to yourself. I dunno, it works for me.
Trick yourself some more. I know, a 1-mile run is nothing to brag about, but you know what? That’s really far for someone who literally faked being sick whenever they had to run The Mile in school. And it’s sufficient. Being able to run one mile helps you maintain a basic level of physical and cardio fitness (I guess that’s why they made us do it in school). For me, it helps to pick out a destination that is .5 miles away from home (the waterfront) and focus on getting to that. A half mile seems so short and I can tell myself it’s just one good song away. I don’t force myself to run fast. I go at a comfortable (okay, really slow) pace. I always tell myself that if I get there and I’m tired, I can walk home. But I usually run there and back. Definitely not planning to run a mile? Walk it! I love to walk while listening to podcast episodes and walking is great exercise. A walk with a podcast is a wonderful way to start the day!
Include something you really enjoy along the route. My 1-mile route goes down to the canal and comes back home through the royal palace gardens. Both spots are so gorgeous, especially early in the morning when you have it all to yourself. Usually just thinking about taking a few minutes to watch the sun dance off the water or walk through the garden will get me out the door. Try planning your route to include something scenic that will motivate you, or have your run end at a favorite smoothie or coffee shop. No coffee until your run is done? Seems like a good motivator.
Get a good armband. This one is simple, cheap and comfortable, I also love that it is universal and fits any phone so that you don’t have to hunt down a new compatible armband every time you upgrade your phone. I got this Armband Sleeve ($12) on Amazon for my iPhone. I’ve had several in the past, and they were all kind of clumsy to put the phone in and out of, felt HUGE on my arm, and were awkward to jog with. This one is just a simple piece of spandex that the phone slides into and seals with velcro. Taking the phone in and out is fast and easy, it’s comfortable and sleek and has enough room to easily fit a credit card, keys, a few dog treats etc.
Take photos. Screw the people on the internet who like to complain about you sharing photos of your workout, checking in at your gym, or bragging about your gains. Honestly, the internet is a pretty great accountability partner and your camera is more honest than a scale. If sharing that workout clip on your Story or posting that progress pic is what gets you to fit in your workout. DO IT.
Find a friend to yell at you. I have one and she’s really good at this. She’s an avid runner so she is always really great about encouraging me in a gentle way. We check in with each other every week or two and relay what we’ve been up to with our workouts. It’s fun to have someone to stay accountable to in real life, someone who is cheering you on, and someone who will gently remind you not to be a lazy asshole.