While under quarantine in her native Madrid, Siobhan Colgan is sharing her experiences and offering advice on how to stay fit when you're stuck inside, how to keep your kids engaged during this tough period, how to eat healthy when supplies are limited, and more.
I stood in my living room last Sunday with my partner. We were both holding 2-liter water bottles to use as weights for our workout. Just three days prior, I would have been training in my local gym, but unfortunately, on March 14, the government imposed a nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus in my native Madrid, Spain. I needed to get creative to stay fit at home.
Essential businesses such as grocery stores, banks, and pharmacies are allowed to remain open. However, other establishments like gyms, bars, and restaurants are temporarily shuttered. And the country’s population of 47 million has been ordered to stay home in an attempt to slow the pace of the virus.
Of course, Spain isn’t the only country in quarantine. Every day around the world, national and local governments impose restrictions and lockdowns on their citizens.
But just because we can’t go out, it doesn’t mean we can’t work out.
All You Need Is You
You can turn any environment into a workout space, says Eduardo Olive Calderon, an SGX coach and Spartan Race ambassador based in Malaga, Spain. “All you need is your body.”
Calderon typically trains his clients in outdoor environments similar to those that they’ll face in a Spartan Sprint or Super. The streets are empty and no one is allowed to race along Malaga’s mountain trails, but what this has done, claims Calderon, is force athletes to find other ways to stay fit.
If You Want to Stay Fit, Be Flexible
First off, you have to be flexible, he says. “For example, I’d recommend skipping rope, as it’s a great aerobic exercise that supports cardiovascular health and also burns calories,” which is important for those who can’t get out and move around.
“But if you don’t have a rope, you can jump for 45 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then start again," Calderon adds. "Do this in repetitions of five. And mix it up, too, by alternating jumps with skipping.”
Calderon also suggests adding a series of 30-second isometric squats aimed at keeping muscle strength intact. “If you find them easy, grab some weights like a 5-liter bottle of water, and alternate with burpees and weighted static strides.”
Make the Burpee Your Bestie
Bernard Courtney, a UK-based SGX coach, maintains that the burpee is one of the best exercises to do if you want to stay fit when stuck at home.
“It’s the go-to bodyweight exercise in any Spartan-based training system for a reason,” he says. “The combination of training the stability and strength of the upper body, core activation and development, leg power, and the fact that it provides a significant aerobic and conditioning workout make the burpee a great one-stop workout.”
But Courtney doesn’t advise only doing burpees if you’re exercising at home. “One of the keys to maintaining interest in and commitment to a training regime is to add variety,” he says. “No two workouts should be exactly the same.”
“With people self-isolating or being quarantined, they should aim to be creative in designing their individual exercise programs,” the Spartan coach explains. “The focus should be on combining different varieties of bodyweight exercises in high-intensity circuits to maximize exercising as many different muscle groups as possible.”
He gives an example of a 20-minute workout that anyone can do if training in their own living room (see below), stating: “The trick is to be creative. Make it challenging, as this will also give a sense of achievement.”
Courtney also notes how keeping physically fit will keep us mentally sane if we’re looking at the same four walls for however long our countries’ lockdown lasts.
“Regular exercise can be very helpful in maintaining physical health, which in turn is directly linked to mental positivity and emotional well-being. And this is important during significant life challenges such as the one we’re currently experiencing,” he says. “So do what you can to keep fit and improve your own resistance to the virus.”
The 20-Minute ‘Lockdown’ Workout
Press-ups (10 reps)
Air squats (10 reps)
Russian twists (10 reps)
Burpees (10 reps)
Pull-ups (10 reps — use a door-mounted pull-up bar or similar)
Do these sets in sequence for 20 minutes.
Finish with a cooldown.