Quarantine exercises for those who hate exercise

photo via Coach Magazine

photo via Coach Magazine

According to social media, I’m supposed to take this time in isolation to go on a self-improvement kick. Given how much more time I have to myself these days, I decided that I’d give it a try. About a week into quarantine, I had my skin care routine down. Seven steps. I felt like one of those girls on Instagram who has their life together.

I was so proud of myself for taking this step toward better health (probably prouder than I should’ve been given that skin care is in fact a very basic human priority). I should keep this self-improvement train going, my idiot brain thought one night. So, the next day, I got up early and went on a run around my neighborhood.

I wish I could say that it felt great, but I value my journalistic integrity. It was awful. I can’t believe there are people out there who run for leisure. That to me is the equivalent of drop-kicking a porcupine for fun.

I’d planned for a nice two-miler but, after eight minutes and change, I decided one was plenty. Thinking for some reason that a few body weight exercises would suit me better, I took a broom to the garage floor and made a little makeshift workout space. The whole scene was actually quite nice; it was sunny outside but not a scorcher, birds were chirping (though I drowned them out blaring Surfaces from my speaker) and I caught a nice breeze coming in through the garage door. Having caught my breath and stretched out, I was actually content to get started.

I looked up some nice at-home workouts and made a list in my Notes app. They seemed easy enough. After all, the skinny, smiling workout guru in the TikTok video wasn’t even breaking a sweat. Once the list seemed long enough, I whipped out a yoga mat and got after it.

Ow. That’s all I have to say. I got through it all, but I knew about 20 minutes in that this wasn’t a sustainable practice. I’d hated every moment of it. After an hour, feeling like I’d just been on the receiving end of a jackhammer, I limped back inside and up to my room.

I wanted to be healthier and lose some weight, but I wasn’t ready for the intensity of what the health nut side of social media had to offer. I did some more research (and also some plain ol’ logical thinking) to devise a workout routine that would allow me to firm and tone while also maintaining a will to live.

I hate to jinx myself, dear reader, but I think I cracked the code. I’ve been doing this routine for the past week and actually feel good when all’s said and done. I’ve even dropped a few pounds! 


Running (I Know What I Said Before, But Let Me Explain)

Do I hate running with a passion unbeknownst to the average man? Yes, 1000%. Is it still great for burning calories? Yes, 1000%. Besides, I still get all the email alerts from that time I downloaded MapMyRun, so I feel a bit guilted into attempting a lap around the block at this point. If you’re going to try running, I recommend doing that before completing the rest of your workout routine. Trust me when I say that you won’t want to afterwards. If you’re the type of person that can speed-demon through a ton of body weight exercises and then go on a run without crying, I suggest reading a different article. You, sir, are too elite for the likes of me.

As I was saying, running is a great way to burn off calories fast. One good session could invalidate that midnight snack you had last night (yes, I know you did that). Set mileage goals for yourself if that’s your schtick, but I usually just hoof it until it hurts too much. However you decide to subject yourself to torture is cool with me.


Lateral Leg Raises

These babies are glorious if you’re trying to tone your hips. I knew immediately they’d be a go-to for me because YOU GET TO LAY DOWN WHILE YOU DO THEM. I mean, come on—that’s beautiful. All you have to do is pull up Netflix on your phone, tablet or computer and set it on the floor in front of you. Just focus on what you’re watching and do as many leg raises as you can. When you have to tap out, switch to the other side and repeat. I’m thoroughly convinced this will have you on par with Kim K in a month, tops.



Squats really are that exercise. I’ve never met someone who hates squats. They’re great for firming up the legs, you feel good doing them and they honestly aren’t that painful. Being lazy and anti-exercise, I’m not too big on setting rep goals, but I usually try to go for two to three sets of 20. Sometimes, if I’m feeling spicy, I throw in another 10 wherever I feel like it throughout the workout. Is that bad for my OCD? Absolutely. Does it help me fit over 100 squats into one workout without even realizing it? You bet.


Lunges (Forward and Lateral)

Just like squats, lunges are a basic one for most people, but that’s because they work. I understand that healthy people who’ve been exercising for years get bored of this kind of thing, but this article isn’t for them. If you do lunges right after the squats (or vice versa) you’ll definitely feel the burn, so just try to get through at least two sets of however many reps you can manage. I believe in you. 


Plank Circuit

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: this boy’s gonna hurt. I thoroughly dislike it every time, but if it’s any consolation, it’s only five minutes and you don’t have to move much at all. I’ve learned it helps to turn up the volume on whatever show you’re watching or music you’re listening to, so do with that what you will.

If you’re like me and maybe don’t have quite as much ab definition as the man in the graphic at left, maybe take a pause in between positions. Take a breath, question why you’re doing this to yourself, remember that you want to score a date with Madison Beer, and jump into the next step of the circuit. It’ll all be over soon enough.



Calf Raises

Simple. Elegant. Relatively painless. All you have to do is stand on your toes, hold for a moment or two and then drop. If you’re looking for a little bit more definition in the calf area, these are an easy solution. Since they are so easy, I recommend just going at this until they get too painful. You can even throw on a backpack or grab a milk jug if you want to turn up the heat. Your summer body will thank you later.


Lift Something (Don’t Judge Me—I’ll Explain)

Finding an at-home arm exercise for lazy people was surprisingly difficult. I refuse to do push-ups or any variation of the sort. I’m bad at those; I’ve accepted it and am trying to move on. 

I’ve quickly realized that, if you really want those defined arms, the quickest way there is lifting. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s your Bichon Frise, a milk jug or a pack of water bottles—find whatever you can lift without making noises and facial expressions that’ll scare the neighbor’s impressionable young children. I honestly don’t think it matters what type of lifting you’re doing, either. Curls, upright rows, tricep extensions, reverse flies—in my book, as long as you’re trying, you’re doing it perfectly. Do whatever type of arm exercise the good Lord compels you to attempt. I’m sure you’ll be satisfied.