This really has nothing to do with houses (other than it takes place in one) but inquiring minds want to know about my workout routine so I’m sharing all the details – and awkward photos – below.
Welcome to my home gym! Haha. I gave up my pricey gym membership when we decided I would quit working as a pharmacist to stay home with the kids. And, honestly, it’s been for the better. It forced me to find an alternative workout method. Before, I went from machine to machine at the gym and it was so boring. I was stuck in a rut and I really had no idea what I was doing.
I’ve *mostly* exercised regularly (you can see my equally embarrassing pregnancy workout routine here) during and in between pregnancies. Thanks to that and breastfeeding and sometimes diet restrictions during periods of nursing, I’ve never had a problem gaining too much weight during pregnancy (I gained 30-35 lbs with each pregnancy) or losing the baby weight after giving birth. But after Mabrey was born, I noticed a huge difference in the consistency of my body. Everything was mushy and I lost a lot of muscle tone. I felt different too. I was more tired than usual (it probably had something to do with the fact that Mabrey didn’t sleep through the night until she was almost a year old) and weak. I wanted to feel strong again.
I didn’t have the funds for a class or a personal trainer plus a babysitter so I read a bunch of reviews on post-pregnancy workouts that I could do at home and ended up trying Tracy Anderson’s post-pregnancy workout. I loved it! During a good week, I would manage to get in three workouts. But two workouts per week was probably my average for the first year of Mabrey’s life. Once Mabrey weaned and started sleeping regularly, I gained more energy and was able to carve out more blocks of time to devote to exercising. Eventually, the post-pregnancy workout became less difficult and I knew it was time to move on.
Since I had a good experience with the post-pregnancy workout, I looked into some of Tracy’s non-pregnancy material. After reading hundreds of reviews, I opted for the 1-hour mat workout and precision toning DVD’s. You guys, these are the real deal. I’ve been doing them for over a year now. Here’s what I LOVE about Tracy’s method:
*I can work out at home…or pretty much anywhere. Just figuring out the childcare logistics for three kids is enough to turn me off to a gym or class. Not that I have anything against them but I know me and I know I’m much more likely to workout at my convenience. Getting three little people loaded into the car to go anywhere is an ordeal in and of itself. I make it a priority to work out and it usually happens in the afternoon during Mabrey’s nap time (the boys are either in school or at home reading / having screen time / watching a movie) but sometimes I wake up early to sneak in a workout before the kids are awake.
Likewise, the workout travels well. When the weather allows, I work out on the deck in our backyard. When we were on vacation last week I brought my laptop, DVD’s and weights along and worked out on my grandparents’ screened porch.
*I don’t need a ton of space or equipment. As you saw in the first photo, my living room doubles as my gym. I push everything up against the sofa to give myself plenty of room and pop in the DVD. If the boys are watching a movie, I play the DVD on my laptop and prop it up on the coffee table.
I stash what little equipment is needed (light weights, adjustable ankle weights) in a basket on the living room shelves. I used canned food as weights starting out until I decided to invest in legit weights. I have 1 lb, 3 lb and 5 lb free weights.
Some of the exercises require a chair for support. I grab my wishbone knockoff from the dining room and it works perfectly. I do the floor exercises on my living room rug but a yoga mat would work, too. I love that I don’t need an entire room devoted to large, expensive exercise equipment.
*It’s inexpensive. I would probably enjoy Tracy coaching me in person but I’m guessing I’ll never be able to afford her. (She’s been known to train the likes of Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow.) Over the past two years, I’ve spent less than $100 total on workout material and equipment. That leaves me with more money for pillows! or wine! or cute workout chairs! Bottom line: it’s cheap.
*There’s a subtle ballet / dance reference. I am NOT an athlete. I know. Shocker.
Fun fact: In high school I was demoted from track team runner to statistician after my coach learned that my body’s natural reaction to running was passing out. I ended up being diagnosed and treated for a cardiac arrhythmia later in life. But, whatever, I was good at math.
However, I did study ballet for over a decade. Tracy started out as a dancer and some of the arm and leg positions (plié, attitude, fourth position, etc.) are reminiscent of ballet and it’s funny how after all these years the positions still feel familiar. They’re almost like second nature to my body. That’s not to say someone without dance experience wouldn’t like the workouts or wouldn’t be able to do them. It’s just something I notice and like.
*It’s challenging. These DVD’s are not easy. But they aren’t impossible either. If I can get through an entire workout on the first try then, in my mind, it’s too easy. It took me MONTHS to get through the entire precision toning DVD without dropping my arms or a leg at some point. To this day, I am dripping with sweat and winded at the end of my workout. A year later, it’s still challenging.
FYI – Steve is a certified CrossFit trainer so he’s crazy fit. I begged him to try just the arm section of the mat workout with me a few weeks ago and HE COULDN’T DO IT. “This is stupid,” his words exactly.
To keep from burning out or plateauing, I alternate between the two DVD’s regularly.
*It isn’t trendy. Oprah and Gwyneth made Tracy a hot commodity several years ago but don’t assume her methods are outdated. Tracy is constantly creating new material. There are also little things (changing positions, adding / increasing weights, doubling up on sessions, controlling more, etc.) you can tweak within the workouts to make them more difficult as you get stronger and the workouts get easier. I’ve heard Tracy is training men now too and she recently released the pregnancy project after giving birth to her second child. It almost makes me wish I was pregnant again just to try it. Almost. At any rate, I’m totally bummed it wasn’t available when I was pregnant.
*It’s effective. The number one reason I haven’t moved on to something else is because this method really, well, works. I am stronger. I am toned. I like the way I feel. I like the way I look. I’m not ripped but that’s not my preferred body aesthetic anyway. The workouts focus on accessory muscles – as opposed to major muscle groups – to create a lean but toned profile. If I ever get to the point where I don’t feel challenged or I stop seeing results then I’m open to trying something different – Tracy Anderson or otherwise.
So that’s what I’ve been doing to stay fit. I try to work out every other day. Some weeks it’s more (rare!); some weeks it’s less. I will say that between the two DVD’s I like the precision toning more. It’s more difficult (the planking is ridiculous) and begets results more quickly. There’s more verbal direction, too. But both DVD’s are effective. My ideal workout would include the warm-up, arms, legs and cool-down sections of the mat workout paired with the butt and abs sections of the precision toning. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend the mat workout or the method for beginners.
I’d like to mention that this information isn’t meant to be prescriptive. I’m just sharing what I do. You should do what works for you. I have friends who swear by classes or gyms to stay motivated and hold themselves accountable. But if money / kids / time don’t make those convenient options for you and you’re interested in trying something at home, I’d highly recommend Tracy’s method. I’m always surprised by how much more productive I am on the days I work out. It seems counterintuitive but using up an hour of my busy day to exercise actually results in more stuff getting done. I have more energy, more focus.
How about you? What do you do to stay active? Have you ever tried Tracy Anderson’s method? Is there another workout method I should know about?
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking