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Here’s How You Can Stay Fit While Working from Home

A remote worker's guide to fitness.

Illustration courtesy of Reedsy.

Working from home might seem like a dream. You’ve carefully crafted the perfect work station. You have no manager popping up behind you and the silence has replaced the office chatter. Of course, there’s the perk of working in sweatpants whenever you feel like it!

However, on the flip side of the coin, working from home also means you have no commute to stretch your legs and get moving in the morning. Add to this the fact you’re just a few steps away from a fully-stocked fridge and you can probably sense the problem: working from home can take a serious toll on your ability to stay in shape.

When I went from Muay Thai boxing fighter to remote worker in Barcelona, it became clear to me that this was going to be my biggest challenge. So I set about coming up with some solutions. Whether you’re a freelancer or a remote worker, here are six ways to stay fit when your home is your office.

1. Slack reminders for the win.

If you’re working remotely, chances are you’re using Slack as your go-to team communication tool. Among other neat tricks, did you know you could use Slack to set up automatic reminders to yourself? Every hour, you can get Slack to ping you a directive to move around. Some weeks, it’ll remind me to do 10 pushups every hour (by Wednesday, my triceps are on fire). Other days, I obediently get up and do 10 jump squats every 30 minutes. 

The point is to move around at regular intervals — and Slack is the perfect personal trainer to get you on your feet to do it. 

2. Stick to an active morning routine.

As a remote worker, you might have noticed that the absence of a morning commute means that your daily step count takes a plunge off the deep end. The best way to counter this is to create an active morning routine for yourself. Writers write best when they’ve built a solid writing routine. It’s no different for fitness aficionados who work remotely.

For me, this means that I clear my inbox first thing in the morning and then aim to wrap up the top task on my to-do list. Then I reward myself with a brisk 30-45 minutes walk. This clears my head, boosts my metabolism, and lets me explore a little before sitting back down for work. Bonus points if your routine involves an uphill adventure, a new neighborhood, or is completed by 9AM.

3. Bring your gym with you.

In the 21st century, you don’t need a gym to work out. A lot of smart at-home equipment will help you get stronger — and what’s neat is that they fit in your backpack. For example, the ‘TRX’ is a set of bodyweight exercises born in the Navy SEAL ranks. All you need is to hang the compact training tool on any door, set a timer to 30 seconds to a minute, and start your first set of squats or lunges. Repeat 3 to 4 times.

You can also get a skipping rope for cardio or a set of exercise resistance bands to challenge yourself during push-ups. There are plenty of ways for you to build your own nomadic gym, so I don’t want to hear this excuse anymore: “But there’s no gym nearby!”

4. Enroll in a bootcamp.

Daily homemade workouts aren’t doing the trick? How about trying something a little more immersive? Fitness bootcamps have invaded every corner of the earth. You’re bound to find one regardless of the city that you’re in. What’s more, it will push you to train like an athlete for a period of a few weeks to several months.

No slacking allowed! You’ll sweat, work out, and then work hard. From boxing to crossfit and weightlifting, your options are endless. Where are you heading next?

5. Maintain a streak by tracking your habits.

You know the drill: what gets measured gets done. It’s easier to achieve your goals when you get to see how much progress you’ve made. This means that consistency is key.

To get there, you can use a habit tracker like SuperHabit to keep an eye on all of your food and fitness-related habits.The longer your successful streak, the better. The app even offers a calendar that shows the number of days that you’ve done a particular habit, which can help you visualize how you’re doing on a regular basis.

This app is so helpful to me that it’s my default homepage whenever I open a new tab. I then am left with only one thing on my mind: whatever happens, don’t break the streak.

6. Buddy up.

By now, you probably get it: the best way to stay active when working from home is to stay accountable. Easier said than done when you spend most of your time alone — or on the phone. Who (besides Slack) is going to give you the extra nudge to put those trainers on?

That’s when your workout buddy comes in: an exercise partner with similar workout goals and a flexible schedule like yours. Can’t think of anyone who’s a good fit? No problem: your buddy doesn’t even need to be a close friend. Head to communities like Nomadlist, Meetup.com or the Nike running clubs to find a fitness group close to your location. You’ll have no difficulty meeting like-minded people to sweat with you there.

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