After months of gym closures and restrictions throughout the country, chances are you’re used to working out at home by now or thinking of getting started. That said, for many of us, our living spaces are far from ideal workout spaces—but the reality is that at-home workouts likely aren’t going anywhere soon. Luckily, with a few simple tweaks, you can supercharge your home workouts to be more enjoyable and more effective. Here are some expert tips and tricks:
1. Carve out a designated workout space
Even in the smallest of spaces (like city apartments), it may be helpful to designate a specific space as your home fitness area. Doing this can mentally psych you up for your workout.
You don’t have to go wild—a little goes a long way in creating a workout nook you love. Simply placing a nice towel or yoga mat lined with your weights and resistance bands in the corner of your bedroom will do. For a little extra, you can add an aromatherapy diffuser or a vision board with inspirational quotes to help you feel more excited to limber up in your home fitness “studio.”
2. Throw open the blinds
Time to brighten your space. “One of the best ways to enjoy working out at home is to light up the room,” says physical therapist Tim Fraticelli. “Open up the shades and consider adding a brighter light to your room if you’re looking to improve your mood while working out.” While regular exercise has been linked to a number of health-related quality of life improvements, research suggests that adding a bright light could increase the benefits related to mood.
3. Pump up the jams
Whether you’re going for a spin on your home bike or doing an at-home strength training session, high-energy music can make all the difference. “Music can turn an unmotivated mood into a workout-crushing mood in no time,” explains Carrie A Groff. It also takes your mind off of the muscle burn, she adds. So the next time you’re tempted to bail on that sweat, turn on one of the many workout playlists on an app like Spotify and see if it impacts how you feel.
4. Optimize your timing
In working toward your goals for physical activity, choosing a regular “when” can be helpful for staying on track. This will look different for everyone: You may designate a specific hour to work out each day, or you may simply aim to get moving within a broader time window (for example, in the afternoons before dinner).
Whatever your style, make your routine a habit and you’ll be less likely to skip working out—and more likely to look forward to it as a way to recharge and reset during harried times.
5. Move in a way that works for you
If you find yourself dragging through the same exercises every day or feeling intimidated by the thought of hour-long sessions, remember this: The best type of activity is one you actually enjoy, because that’s what you’re more likely to do consistently.
Once you know that, you might find yourself sneaking in activity throughout the day—in the car, between video calls at your desk, or even while you’re brushing your teeth.
6. Wear workout clothes you love
You may not be locking eyes with fellow gym-goers or sweating alongside your workout buddy, but putting on apparel that you love can help fuel your activity.
And by “workout clothes,” we don’t necessarily mean fancy, expensive performance gear. If your ratty college softball shirt makes you feel unstoppable—and you can move comfortably in it—by all means make that your look. It can even be as simple as a pair of socks that make you smile every time you look down!
7. Limit distractions
Even with the proper equipment, clothes, and routine, working out at home can be challenging. Unlike our homes, which have become de facto workplaces, schools, movie theaters, restaurants, and more over the past few months, gyms and fitness studios exist for one purpose: Exercise.
So, the next time you’re really trying to focus on a class or circuit (and not sneak in a few jumps between making dinner), act like you’re at a gym. Try eliminating distractions as much as possible by switching off your email or social media notifications, and letting household members know you’re leaving to work out—even if that’s just in the other room. The best part? You won’t have to wait for anyone to finish using a pair of weights or the treadmill.