At-home workout to avoid cabin fever during the coronavirus outbreak

We’re staying inside to slow the spread of coronavirus because we want to keep as many people healthy as possible, but we’re also, you know, going a little crazy all cooped up.

Know what we need? Exercise! No, wait! Don’t go back to coronavirus coverage just yet; stick with us here. Exercise is hugely beneficial to our mental health, immune systems and, of course, our physical bodies, benefits we need now more than ever.

Even though the gyms are closed and we’re stuck at home, there are things we can do. We asked Marc Saint-Preux, group training instructor and manager at Denver’s Vital Strength and Fitness gym, just what, exactly, those things are. He obliged, since, you know, he’s got a little extra free time right now.

“I look at movement as therapy in general,” Saint-Preux said. “During times like these when there’s nothing you can do and there’s only so much information you can absorb from social media, the healthiest thing you can do is take care of your body.”

For his clients at the gym — and now also for you, dear readers — Saint-Preux has been filming short videos demonstrating exercises people can do at home. Because even though we’re stuck inside, that doesn’t mean we have to be stuck to our couches.

At-home exercises done with our own body weight can be just as effective as the moves done at the gym with fancy equipment, and many can be done with limited space. And now you have your own personal trainer, too, showing you how to lunge, plank and push-up like a pro.

“There’s a lot you can do with no equipment,” Saint-Preux said. “You can use inanimate objects throughout your house and hold onto them to do your squats. Hold up a gallon of milk, or fill an empty gallon with water. Use those as weights if you don’t have weights.”

Uh-huh. Anyway, Saint-Preux has been making videos of exercises his clients can do at home to stay fit during our collective quarantine, and he made a few especially for Denver Post readers, with variations based on your fitness level. Here are five exercises and a stretch to keep your body moving through the coronavirus crisis. (Adding milk gallons is optional.)

Glute Drives

Works your: butt and hamstrings
How many reps: 10-20

Lay on your back with knees up and heels pressing into the ground. Lift your hips up and squeeze that butt. Slowly lower your hips, and even though dropping back to the floor seems like heaven right now, don’t let your hips touch the ground on the descent. Lift back up and hold; if you’re feeling it, lift your knees up into the air, as if you’re kneeing that coronavirus into oblivion. Take that, COVID-19!

Next, extend those heels out a bit further, so knees are slightly bent now. Lift your hips up again, but this time you should really feel it in your hamstrings. Squeeze and slowly come back down. From there, lift your legs up again, still keeping your hips up if you can, and kick that virus to the curb.

High Plank

Works your: core and arms

Lower into the push-up position. Don’t worry — you don’t have to actually do a push-up. No, it’s far worse than that. Just hold it right there for as long as you can. Not hard enough? Move your hands forward, move them together, move them in so they’re right under your body. Heck, lift your arms up one at a time. It’s not like you have anywhere to go right now anyway.


Works your: hips, butt and thighs
How many reps: 10-20 sounds doable

Take a step forward, as if you’re stomping down our impending, disastrously high unemployment rate. Lower your back knee so that it’s horizontal with the ground. Step back and repeat with the other leg until you can’t feel anything anymore, including your crushing anxiety. If you want to make it more difficult, jump into those lunges. At this point, why not?


Works your: arms, back and core
How many reps: Do one for each coronavirus-related Facebook post your friends have posted in the past 10 minutes.

You know how to do a push-up; we’re not going to take precious time away from yelling at the kids to stop painting themselves green again to explain. Marc says to do the push-ups faster, or slide left to right for added difficulty. Marc also says you can drop onto your knees or do them against an incline to make them easier. Guess which we picked?


Works your: butt and thighs
How many reps: Aim for 10-20; more if you’ve already stress-eaten a cake today.

Stand with your feet hip distance or a little wider apart. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a sitting position, except the chair you’re lowering yourself into has disappeared, just like our economy. Keep your butt back, because you don’t need to go hurting yourself now on top of everything else. Go slow to make it harder, or add some jumps, or maybe try doing them while drinking wine directly from the bottle. (Note: we added that last part.)

Hip Flexor Stretch

You did it! Now you get to relax into this comforting stretch before you get back to worrying about the coronavirus, tending to sick family members, teaching the kids long division, managing your cabin fever/intense anxiety/depression and brainstorming new work options since yours might be closed. So yeah, all the hard work is over! For the stretch, get down on one knee and lean forward, until you feel the pain stretch in your hip. Hold for 10-15 seconds, or about half the time you should be spending washing your hands. Do it a second time, because again, what else are you gonna do right now? Repeat on the other leg, and please, stay healthy and safe.

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