Stay fit while you stay at home.
WORDS BY KARL R. DE MESA
I t’s easy to feel unmoored in the time of the plague
“There is no more miserable human being,” said William James in an 1892 lecture, “than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work are subjects of express volitional deliberation.”
What he was trying to depict there was a perfect formula for unhappiness: when everything that seemed to run smoothly in the past now needed attention and willpower. Whole areas of our day now need to be cranked manually, from the absence of work or the transfer of work online, the necessity of cooking your own meal instead of going to the corner carinderia or restaurant, to simply staying in your pajamas as opposed to dressing up for any kind of activity beyond your front door.
All familiar routines and outdoor activities have been disrupted thus far. And as the enhanced quarantine lockdown goes by, we hope you’ve been keeping some kind of daily habits, not just to beat monotony, but also to keep your mental health on an even keel—something very important at an uncertain time like this.
While some may feel utter liberation at all normalcy being thrown out the window, a majority of us can feel this feeling of being set adrift keenly and deeply, in a way that we can’t even fully pinpoint or express.
To combat this, many medical and mental health experts advise sticking to a routine that can re-establish a kind of new normal. This means not only getting enough sun but also instituting a workout routine that will keep you fit even if you’ve already toured or cleaned your house five times today.
Here are a few of the best free, online full-body workout routines you can try. We’ve got athletics, and martial arts, to a stress-relieving yoga sequence that just might see you through this pandemic quarantine in good enough shape.
Who knows? You might even acquire a shredded physique you can sustain for the rest of the year!
ATHLETICS AND STRENGTH—ATHLEAN X
Head coach and Athlean X creator Jeff Cavaliere has become famous on YouTube for his funny and yet insightful fitness videos that he tags as “putting the muscle science back into strength training.” Which means none of that unfounded bro-science is here. You know, the convo from those muscle sharks in the gym who usually bandy about hearing about techniques to get more shredded from this or that pal.
Cavaliere’s advantage isn’t just that he’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist, or the Assistant Strength Coach for the New York Mets during the National League East Championship. It’s that he’s a certified physical therapist. He brings this knowledge of biomechanics, muscle anatomy, and form-fitting function to some pretty fun and safe exercise combos and programs.
I’ve tried quite a few of his routines while I was recovering from a grappling competition injury and they’re pretty hardcore, but Cavaliere prioritizes form over mindless repetition—which means more quality in each rep that helps you achieve better fitness. Best of all, he even explains why some exercises aren’t good for you in the long run, making them moments that court injury rather than strengthen you.
YOGA WITH ADRIENE MISHLER
I’ve only done bits and pieces of yoga, mostly for stretching and warming up before martial arts drills. But YouTuber and actor Adriene Mishler comes highly recommended from other fellow yoga masters. Yoga’s become such a popular part of today’s exercise regimen, especially to the so-called “tita” set, that it’s pretty hard to overlook its benefits.
Ditto for Mishler’s online community of over six million viewers on her “Yoga with Adriene” channel. I’ve tried the “20 minute Yoga To Heal Stress” routine on the video, and while it’s not challenging for anybody who’s flexible enough, it’s incredibly effective and calming to the nerves.
CAGE FIGHTER CONDITIONING—PHIL DARU’S BODY ARMOR
American Top Team (ATT) in Florida is one of the leading mixed martial arts teams in the cage fighting game. Phil Daru is the in-house strength and conditioning coach of ATT, having trained veteran fighters, stars, and champions like Dustin Poirier, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jorge Masvidal, Edson Barboza, Frankie Edgar, Junior Dos Santos, and King Mo Lawal.
Daru’s “Body Armor” program was made so that elite fighters could keep training in any condition without the use of the usual fancy equipment. Because of a lot of travel, many MMA champions use this series of exercises to keep in shape in hotels, usually any time they can’t have access to a gym.
Now, if you’re a total beginner please take these exercises slowly and stop if you feel any catastrophic pain. These are legit techniques made for top-level athletes and the last thing anybody wants is for you to try and execute a superman punch. For sure though this program will improve your mobility, power, flexibility, and overall strength just like Daru’s clientele of MMA sensations.
FOR GRAPPLERS—JOHN DANAHER’S FREE SOLO BJJ DRILLS
Are you one of the many Brazilian jiu-jitsu or grappling students who’ve been afraid that they’re losing their powers and edge since the academy has been closed?
Fear not, the high priest of BJJ John Danaher (head coach of the competitive team Danaher Death Squad out of Renzo Gracie Academy in New York) has released a new four-volume series as a gift for everyone who can only train at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re any kind of grappler then you’ve likely heard of Danaher and realize that this is like a gift from one of the ascended saints of BJJ. These are the same lessons and drills that Danaher gives his world-class fighters like Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and Nicky Ryan on how to keep improving when you can’t get on the mats.
While in the above link is the teaser video, you’ll need to head on over to the grappling lessons platform BJJ Fanatics, create an account, and then stream or download the four volumes of videos that are available.
FOR STRIKERS—SEAN FAGAN’S HOME DRILLS
Sean Fagan is better known as YouTube’s “Muay Thai Guy,” a popular channel dedicated to Fagan’s fighting journey as a striker and a foreign nak muay. As a professional, Fagan is pretty legit with 19 wins and seven losses on his record, and even an amateur title to his name.
Originally from the small town of New Paltz in upstate New York, Fagan is now based in Diamond Muay Thai at Ko Pha Ngan, south Thailand. These shadow boxing drills are designed for folks who are just at the start of their striking journey and are thus very friendly to beginners. They will however greatly help to improve your technique, balance, control, and overall strength. While there are plenty of training videos out there by Thai locals, Fagan’s basics are way easier to understand and follow for newbies. Especially since the iterations of Muay Thai systems out there are legion, with varying degrees of beginner systems. As always, safely scale these exercises by trying them slowly at first and then listen to Fagan’s details on form and mental imagery in future workouts so you can do these sequences faster and with more power