When a self-declared gym rat couldn’t hit the gym

Exercising at home has its challenges. Photo: AnnaStills

Before times, I was a dedicated gym rat and yogi. I used cardio and weight equipment at my gym at least three times a week, took exercise classes several times a week, and two or three yoga classes, too, both at the gym and at a yoga studio. I also walked with a friend weekly. Staying fit is a big part of my life.

Then came the first pandemic shutdown last March. My gym and yoga studios closed. I had time to work out but no place to do it, except, like everyone else, at home. How was this going to work?


I first ramped up my walking routine, taking to the streets and the trails, changing up my route when I got bored, aiming for that prized 10,000 steps a day. Some days I met that goal, on others I didn’t. But at least I was moving.

While I always hated running, I thought the shutdown would be the perfect time to try again. I ordered a good pair of running shoes, and set out for the local high school track, knowing I would need to combine running with walking until I built up my stamina.

Torture. I made myself run/walk for 20 minutes about three times before I confirmed that yes, I still hate to run. 


I do love to practice yoga, though. And within a week of the shutdown, several of my favorite San Francisco yoga teachers were Zooming. This made me extremely happy — live classes at home from familiar teachers — and I didn’t miss rushing to find parking to get to class on time one bit. Zoom yoga has been a lifesaver, and has kept me in touch not only with my instructors but also with friends in my yoga community. YogaWorks offers live Zoom classes ($25 per class), and there’s one practically every hour. 


Although I own dumbbells and elastic exercise bands, and despite knowing enough to create my own workout, I still needed someone to tell me what to do. 

First I turned to YouTube. There are literally hundreds of workout videos of every type. Settling on Jessica Smith, whose free videos focus on full-body strength training, I did several and found them adequate, but soon grew bored. I think this is the downfall of all exercise videos: Without a live instructor encouraging and correcting you, it’s all too easy to find excuses to end your workout early, fudge on the more challenging moves (did someone say core work?), and grow tired of the repetition.

Nevertheless, I was determined to find an online workout that I liked. 


Then I sampled, which offers all-level classes in fitness, yoga, and mindfulness sorted by duration, style, and skill level. I was intrigued by classes like Barre to the Core, Baseline Bootcamp, Sweat and Burn, and Power Yoga Sculpt. Like most online workout websites, Alomoves offers a free one-week trial period. I tried several classes, with power barre, yoga sculpt, and bootcamp among my favorites, and I liked that I could choose workout lengths from 15 to 60 minutes.

Still, while I never got bored exercising on Alomoves, I found the instructors to be so perfectly toned, it was almost intimidating. Like, really, would I ever look like one of them no matter how many workouts I did?


Next I checked out While the format is similar, with different length classes ranging from Pilates, HIITs, yoga, barre, sculpt, cardio dance, and more, I found the site easier to navigate. Classes are also offered live on Zoom, and via a library of on-demand workouts recorded every week, sortable by specific instructors and class lengths. 

While the instructors are very fit, they’re also personable and keep up a running banter throughout classes. This might annoy some, but I found it made the time pass faster even during tough workouts. And these folks are more “human” — their hair slides out of their ponytails; they sometimes admit they need to stop and take breaks; and they drink water during classes and encourage participants to do the same. While some workouts require props like weights, resistance bands, and barre balls, others simply use body weight. Monthly, quarterly, or yearly memberships are available; I have a monthly membership ($27) that includes both live and on-demand classes.

I don’t think my fitness level has suffered much over this past year, but I really miss the comradery of live classes at a studio. Even when I do return, I will also stick with online workouts for convenience. It will be nice to have a choice as things continue to open up. 

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