For many of us who are busy juggling parenthood and a hectic work schedule, it’s often difficult to find time to make it to the gym daily. So many of my clients say that they are stuck in a rut because they don’t have time to get their work out into their daily routine. Allocating some time daily for physical exercise is hard but not impossible and like most things in life requires a little sacrifice. In the next few copies of the ELEGANT magazine, I will be demonstrating with my husband Hasitha some of our favourite movements, which can be performed at home without any equipment. Our hope is to try to make the world of fitness a little less daunting by allowing you to try some of these movements in the comfort of your own home.
Before attempting any form of exercise it’s important to ensure that the body is sufficiently warmed up. Most people are extremely tight due to either a sedentary lifestyle or sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. To prevent injury we always start our group classes with a few minutes of warm-up exercises. These include jogging around the studio for a few minutes followed by 3 sets of 20 jumping jacks and 20 High Knees. This brings the heart rate up, warms up the muscles which make them more malleable and release synovial fluid from the joints so that the bones glide more easily. After you have completed the above and done the joint rotations you are ready to start the following workout. Good luck and enjoy.
The squat is one of my favourite exercises because it’s a compound movement that works the entire body and really requires you to engage your core. As a beginner, you will perform the squat as a bodyweight movement but as you build your strength up you can add weight to it or perform it as a squat jump to make it more challenging. To perform the squat properly you want to stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and your shoulder retracted and depressed. This will engage the upper back muscles and prevent lower back pain especially once you start to introduce weight. As you lower your body down you want to push your glutes back and ideally bring the glutes below the knees. Inhaling as you lower down and exhaling as you drive up and finish by squeezing the glutes and retracting the shoulders. Try to keep the body upright and do not allow your shoulders to round or your knees to shoot forward from your toes. The squat is quite technical so it helps to do it in front of a mirror to ensure you are maintaining proper form. Start with 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
The push up again is one of my favourite movements because it strengthens the entire body not just the arms and especially targets the core. In these pictures, Hasitha is performing the advanced full body push up and I will be demonstrating the “lady push up” from the knees. The push up on the knees is encouraged for beginners to gradually build up their upper body strength. If you are starting out on the knee position then you want to ensure that the hips are pulled forward and your bum is not sticking back behind you. You also want to make sure that your lower back is not slumping down because this will compress the area and cause lower back pain. By lifting up through the belly button you will prevent this from happening and ensure maximum core engagement.
Keep your arms on the edge of your mat to engage all of the chest muscles. Inhale as you lower yourself down and exhale as you push your body back to start position. Fully straighten the arms to engage the triceps at the back of the arms. As you build up strength you can advance to the full-body push up with the knees off the ground. Start by performing 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Increase to 15 as you become stronger.
This exercise is great to be performed straight after the push up’s as the triceps will already be fatigued from having been engaged during the push-up. You can use a chair pushed against a wall or the edge of a bed or a sturdy table to perform this movement. Again in this photo, Hasitha is performing the more advanced version and I am performing the beginner version.
As a beginner, you want to keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Start with your hands brushing the side of the glutes and then bring your bum out a couple of inches away from the edge of your chair. Bend your elbows to lower your body down and then push back up to straighten the arm. Keep your elbows facing the wall behind you and don’t allow the bum to swing too far forward. This will ensure that the tricep is isolated. Inhale as you lower and exhale as you push back up. Start with 3 sets of 15 repetitions. As you become stronger extend the legs to a straight position as shown by Hasitha.
The plank is a great full body core exercise. I have demonstrated two versions. The beginner version on the knees and the advanced with the knees off the ground. Ensure that for either version the elbows are aligned directly under the shoulders and that just like in the push up the lower back is neither slumping too low nor sticking up too high in the air. The plank is one of the best core-strengthening movements but also strengthens all the other muscles in the body. Start with holding for a minute and increase your time accordingly as your strength improves.
Always finish your workout by spending at least 10 minutes stretching to avoid becoming really tight and preventing injury.
By: Tanuja Perera Raymond
Photography By: Chanaka Hettiarachchi