The gym is off-limits for now – but you can put together a functional gym with items you already own. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money on kit,” says Natalie Guyan, a personal trainer in Spain. In fact, if you have bags of flour and plastic bags to hand, you don’t need to spend anything at all.
Throw a few long-life goods, such as 1kg bags of sugar or flour, into a strong plastic carrier bag. Tie it tightly, so that it is compact and the items inside are not shifting around, then put this in another bag that you can swing from the handles. You have a makeshift kettlebell.
“Straight away, there are maybe 200 workouts you can do with that piece of apparatus,” says Guyan.
A balanced workout incorporates not only pushing motions, but also pulling ones, says Guyan. She has been known to take a jacket made of strong material, tie it tightly around a post (or other fixed structure) and pull back on it until she is holding her body weight, using it as she would TRX bands or suspension rings in a gym. As with all these moves, safety is absolutely paramount, so only go ahead if you are sure the post is secure and the jacket is suitably robust.
It is not true that the only good workout is one that leaves you “absolutely battered”, says Guyan: exercises that increase mobility are also important.
Hold a broom or another lightweight plastic pole above your head; with arms locked, take it back to a point where you encounter resistance, while simultaneously bracing your core.
Guyan suggests holding a one-litre bottle of water – effectively a small dumbbell – in each hand while squatting. “Then, as you stand up, thrust them into the air above your head and control them on your shoulders as you sit back down.”
Parents who want to make their exercises harder could add body weights: their children. They are typically the heaviest “items” you have to hand at home that you can hold, says Russ Lubin, an Essex-based personal trainer and online coach at The Right Coach. “Stick them on your back and do squats.”
Let the weight you lift at the gym be your guide – although “a child up to the age of 10 is generally squattable”, he adds.