The first thing you need for a home workout is a really tidy house. I’m not remotely house proud, but I can’t do even half a sit-up if I can see an empty yoghurt pot under the sofa (and I always can). So while, in theory, learning how to get fit under your own steam and using your own accessories removes your single biggest impediment to becoming your best self, in reality you have to become a better self before you start.
Do not skimp on a mat: I roamed around the house for days thinking if I just lit upon the best rug, I would be fine. I ended up with palms crisscrossed with carpet grooves and sore everythings. Seriously, they’re not expensive enough that you need to argue with me. You could do a perfectly serviceable circuit just with a mat, so long as you don’t mind making your ceiling shake with jumping jacks and you have furniture that’s strong enough to bunny hop over.
If you’re absolutely pushed for space, you could do a respectable workout using only your body and a set of variable resistance bands (from £3). I had a tutorial with personal trainer Dalton Wong, who showed me exercises I wouldn’t have thought of – seriously, even walking sideways is thigh work with a band around your ankles. He also had ideas about how to use them outdoors, though sentences that start “slip it around your wrist when you’re going for a run anyway” assume a high baseline of commitment. It’s not hard to fit this into a regular day; you can even combine it with tidying. Everything you might do, from a bicycle crunch to a press-up, can be made more challenging with a resistance band. They’re portable, so if you establish even a 10-minute-a-day routine, it won’t come unstuck when you’re away from home. They have everything to recommend them except tech. You won’t feel modern, but do you ever? And do you care?
Fitt Cube (£130). Hefty but liftable, this is a cube with four surfaces, steps in the middle and optional straps. You can do everything you’ve ever heard of – push-ups, crunches, step-ups, squats – plus ones you’ve never heard of: Russian twists, Bulgarian split squats, and that’s just from the pamphlet that came with it that I nearly threw away.
There is, I am certain, some enviro- or thrift-conscious fit-wonk out there who could give you all the same exercises using only a chair and some stairs, but you wouldn’t have the same thrill of multifunctionality. I haven’t had it long enough – a couple of weeks – to know if the novelty wears off. And we’re not exactly fighting over it as a family, but we definitely fight about who might use it later.
What I learned
Time how long you can hold a plank, every day. You need to register progress, otherwise you’re just an idiot in a sitting room.