The two biggest barriers to starting and keeping a regular fitness routine at any age are time and motivation.  Work, family, commuting and stress all factor into having the time and the inspiration to yet one more thing on your long “to do” list in a day.  Make it easier to say yes and include fitness by keeping it short and sweet!

Short!  Can we really get fit in 15 minutes?

There are many ways to look at fitness.  Best case scenario -- we should all be incorporating at least an hour of physical activity in our day.  Worst case scenario -- making it an all-or-nothing choice. 

Consistency is actually more important than time when it comes to working out.  It is far more effective for your health, your waistline and motivation to include more regular short workouts than making it to the gym for a full workout once a week.  It may take you a bit longer to reach your goals with shorter workouts, but you will get there.  There are also some great ways to pack a lot of value into a short period of time. 

Sweet!  Circuits that are as easy as 1-2-3

Boot camps, circuits and Tabata training are such popular workout formats.  They offer fast and efficient training with dynamic and different exercises that are easy to follow while constantly challenging. 

Ideally, circuits are constructed using sound training principles with specific outcomes in mind.  You can create your own simple circuits, however, by starting with a basic format and then choosing a variety of exercise based on equipment and familiarity.  Start simple and your strength stamina and expertise with exercise will grow with you.

1. Warm up

Warm ups prepare you for the work ahead.  To elevate your core temperature, include moderate cardiovascular activity.  To prepare for the exercises in your workout, include lighter variations of exercises to go through the range of motion and rehearse the movement patterns.  The more intense the workout, the longer and more gradual the warm up required.  Stretching here isn’t necessary -- it may help you mentally prepare, but you get flexibility benefits stretching after your workout.

2. Set your circuits

  • Step 1 -- choose 3-5 exercises
  • Step 2 -- choose your work time: 30-60 seconds works well.  Rest for 30-60 seconds after completing all the exercises
  • Step 3 – repeat your circuits 1-3 times

Once you get used to the format, you can play with it: change the work time, rest time, number of exercises resistance and stability challenges.  This change and variety will keep your muscles and your mind challenged so you can avoid plateaus and boredom!

3. Cool down

Gradually decrease your heart rate by doing moderate cardiovascular activity -- walking, stepping or stairs.  Once your heart rate has come down, stretch all the major muscle groups that you just included in your workout.  To make sure you’ve covered it all, think about stretching head to toe (or toe to head!) and then do a couple extra for the main body parts you worked. 

Hold all stretches for 20-30 seconds.  You do have to hold stretches long enough for muscles to relax and lengthen.  Spending time at the end of your workout when your muscles are warm is when you’ll get flexibility benefits. 

Having workout options that you can do at home makes it easier to be consistent.  It’s also a great option to have when you can’t make it to the gym because it’s those occasional misses that can throw you off completely.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.  Here are a few tips to setting up a home gym that works without breaking the bank!

Tools of the trade

  • Bands - $10-$20 – find at many department or sports stores.
  • Gliders - $20, from Fitness Marketing Group.
  • Bender Balls $20, from Fitness Marketing Group.
  • Kettlebells – $15+, price is based on weight - sports stores, fitness stores and some department stores.
  • Medicine balls – $15+, price based on weight - sports stores and fitness stores.
  • BOSU – $150 - fitness stores.
  • TRX - $150 – fitness stores.


Set it up-- a home workout area doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, but keep it visual. If things are tucked under the bed or in a closet that’s where they’ll stay!  Have small tools stored in a basket you can keep tidy but visible.  Have larger equipment out of the way but within view as a positive reminder. Make it fun and inviting with music, motivational picture and postings, etc.

Have a plan-- keep a list of exercises close by. Write them down and add to your list with things you see at the gym or online. Just make sure it’s a credible source.

Use your exercise checklist -- to ensure exercises are appropriate, ask yourself these three key questions:

  • What’s the purpose?  Every exercise should have purpose.
  • Is it safe?  Use some common sense but if it hurts (beyond being challenging), don’t do it.
  • Can it be modified?  The best exercises are ones that can be modified to fit you and progress with options to increase or change the challenge.

For the full home workout routines and more, visit Libby’s website. We’ll be adding routines all through September to help get and keep you on track!