Can a home exercise routine really compete with a gym and a personal trainer? Tiffany Dunk puts it to the test.
Finding time to exercise in a day packed with work, a long commute, family commitments, catching up with friends and just catching up on general life admin is a challenge I'm sure I'm not alone in facing.
Yet month after month I continue paying for a gym membership I barely use and a personal trainer I visit once a week for half an hour. So when I chatted to exercise king Sam Wood about his newly released 28 by Sam Wood app - an exercise, nutrition and mindfulness tool which aims to help you achieve your desired fitness results from home - I figured I'd lose nothing by giving it a go.
"I’m not anti-gyms, I mean, I own a gym," says Sam. "But we all join gyms with the greatest intention to go three to four times a week and unfortunately it's so far from that. Most people are exercising to get quick results – tone up, lose weight, get on with their health and fitness rather than turning their lives upside down and becoming a gym junkie. And home workouts work beautifully for that."
What you need
The best thing about working out from home, says Sam, is that you don't need all the fancy equipment the gym offers to still get an amazing workout. "Just set up your own nice little space at home," he says.
While I've downloaded his app - which at $58.99 per month isn't cheap but does come in a lot lower than my gym membership, covers up to six people and in addition provides daily recipes, exercises, motivational and mindfulness tips - Sam says you don't need to spend a fortune on workout gear or other extras.
"You can do a daily workout in your daggiest trackies and favourite T-shirt," he says. "And you can use things from around the house. We introduce light resistance and for many of our 28ers that can be cans of tuna or baked beans when you start out before slowly but surely progressing to some bands or dumbbells"
For core and strength exercises, sliders are great but Sam suggests substituting ice cream lids for ones you'll buy at a sports store. "They're a slow constant way to engage your core, work your glutes and control movement," he advises.
And your household furniture will become the last substitute for regular gym equipment.
"If you can’t do pushups on the ground you can use the couch if you want to do step ups you can use a little table or stool," Sam says. "We have over 500 exercises on our program that don’t require any equipment so there’s plenty of variety and stimulation that keeps you going."
"The biggest challenge people have when working out at home is that they don’t know what to do to continually create variety because they don’t have the in-depth knowledge of how to mix it up," says Sam of why many people are opposed to working out at home.
The 28 by Sam Wood app offers a different routine every day (yes, which are 28 minutes long), in which Sam gives both video and audio instructions aimed at helping you perfect your technique. On day one, I unroll my yoga matt, grab my cans of chickpeas and ice cream lids and get ready to get my sweat on.
Given I usually do more cardio than weights at the gym, I was sceptical that I would feel any burn in such a short time period. But there was a great mix of strength exercises along with things like burpees, jumps and jogging on the spot which saw my heart rate spike. And by the end of my 28-minute workout, I definitely felt like I'd earnt the break.
"A lot of people think that long sustained cardio is the best way to burn fat and it isn’t," says Sam. "You’re always going to be more efficient at burning fat when you do short sharp bursts of high-intensity exercise. You should continually be pushing yourself and pushing your work/rest ratios so that your heart rate gets spiked. Consistency and variety will always outdo volume when it comes to exercise."
While it's hard to slack off when you have a personal trainer barking commands or you're in a class with an instructor watching on. It's much easier to do the bare minimum when you're only accompanied by your iPhone.So you will need to make sure you stay self-motivated if you plan on doing an at-home workout.
While Sam's video workouts give you feedback with both verbal and visual cues to modify your technique and intensity, at the end of the day you are having to rely on yourself to get the best out of your workout. And I have to admit that there have been some days I've failed to do that miserably.
Sam advises combatting that by finding a like-minded group of people to work with - even if it is remotely.
"I’ve been a personal trainer for 17 years and when I first launched 28 the major unknown was, 'Will I be able to connect with people as well as I can face to face?' Actually, it's been better," he says. "I speak to my 28ers once a day, I help them with their nutrition in a comprehensive way. And we created a community that brings people together so they can spend time with other like-minded people. We’ve got a community that share recipes, communicates with each other. Although you’re working out a home you never feel alone. Being part of a community is really powerful."
It's early days but I can say that while I'm still far from being at my toned and tough best, I do feel fitter for having more regular exercise sessions. Given that all I have to do is roll out of bed to get my 28-minute workout in rather than get dressed and get myself to the gym before coming home and changing again for work means I'm more likely to exercise than not most mornings.
And although I'm not quite ready to trade in my real-life trainer for a virtual one, Sam's tips have helped me better my technique on the days I do make it to the gym - my trainer is definitely impressed by my improved push-up abilities.
"Home workouts do work, especially for people who have time constraints," promises Sam. "And absolutely you can get the same - or even better - results than you do from attending the gym."