The Freelancer Workout
Know what my goal is for 2011? To not buy a gym membership.
I’m one of those people who pay high sums to keep the equipment at my gym clean and untouched. As a freelance writer, you’d think I’d be able to find a few hours a week to hit the gym (I must think so too since I keep renewing my membership), but seeing that most of my work is currently sandwiched in between naptimes and play dates, spending an hour of precious writing time at the gym seems awfully extravagant. In 2011, I am determined to recognize the situation for what it is and not squander my hard-earned money on club fees.
But of course, I need exercise. Clicking the mouse doesn’t exactly tone muscle. And no matter how excited I get over a particular project, my heart doesn’t thump at anywhere near my target rate. As a writer who often pens health and fitness articles, I know that all it takes is a lousy 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise – even if it’s in 10 minute increments – to reap health benefits.
So , I decided to do all of us time-strapped, non-gym-going freelancers out there a service by asking fitness professionals what we can do to stay in shape from home. These four 5-10 minute routines won’t make you break a sweat, but they’ll get your blood flowing and give your heart a little goose. What’s more they’re specifically designed to address the peaks, valleys and long, flat stretches in a freelancer’s life, so you’ll know exactly when to do them.
Now….no more excuses. Get moving!*
The Stress Buster
As freelancers, we often find ourselves in feast or famine periods – both of which can bring stress. When we’re crazed with work or fretting about where our next check is coming from, our bodies get infused with tension, which can lead to chronic headaches, fatigue, chest pains and even high blood pressure. It can also affect our mental state, making it diffcult to be confident and productive.
Let’s not go there. Here’s an exercise to draw stress from the body and get you working efficiently again. This 7-step routine comes from Whitney Wilson, a New York City-based yoga instructor.
1. Begin by kneeling on the floor with your big toes touching and knees wide apart. Bring your hips to your heels and lean forward until your torso is resting between your thighs. Stretch your arms along body, pressing your hands on the floor firmly, palms down. This position is called Balasana or “Child’s Pose.” Hold for 5 – 10 breaths.
2. Next, come forward onto your hands and knees. Align your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Spread your fingers well and curl your toes under. On a deep inhalation, look to the sky. This position is called Marjaryasana or “Cat Pose.”
3. As you exhale, stay in Cat Pose, but rest the tops of your feet onto the floor. Tuck your head down and bring your gaze to your navel as you press your shins to the ground and stretch across your upper back. This is Bidalasana or “Cow Pose.”
4. Alternate between Cat Pose and Cow Pose 5 times, inhaling deeply for Cat Pose and exhaling deeply for Cow Pose.
5. Sit up, sitting well on your sit bones and extend your legs along the floor in front of you. Press your hands onto the floor by your hips as you lift your breastbone up and draw your upper arms back. This is Dandasana or “Staff Pose.” Hold for 5 – 10 breaths.
6. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Slowly bend from the hips and bring your chest towards your feet in Baddha Konasana or “Bound Angle Pose.” Hold for 5 – 10 breaths.
7. Extend your legs, keeping them long and soft. Lie back and rest your arms by your side with your palms facing up in Savasana or “Corpse Pose.” Close your eyes and return to a normal breath. Stay in this posture for as long as needed, but attempt at least 3 – 5 minutes of quiet stillness.
The “I Nailed It!” Victory Pump
Don’t you love those moments when all is right in your working world? That project you’ve been struggling to master has suddenly turned silky and smooth; your dream client has just requested your services; the big paycheck you’ve been waiting for has arrived. Don’t squander all that good energy you’re feeling! Invest it back in yourself by doing a few exercises that keeps your heart rate up and blood flowing freely.
Fitness trainer Joanne Fredrick, founder of www.cyber-cise.com, a website that specializes in at-home workouts for people with little time, recommends doing upper body exercises when you’re feeling happy or excited. “It is nearly universal,” she writes via email, “that when something good happens we pump our fists in the air or give someone a high-five. Moving your upper body is a great way to celebrate a big victory. This program has the added benefit of helping you build some muscle tone.”
You’ll need 3-5 lb weights for her 5-minute routine:
1. The Shoulder Press. Pick up a weight in each hand and raise your hands up, palms facing forward, hands at shoulder height. Take a breath in and as you exhale, push your hands up over your head until your arms are extended. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
2. Concentration Bicep Curls. Separate your feet and keep them flat on the floor. Grab a weight in your right hand. Lean forward and place your right tricep just above your right knee, palm facing inward toward your left leg, arm extended straight toward the floor. Place your left hand on your left thigh for support. Inhale, and as you exhale, curl your right hand up, pause for a second at the top and lower your hand back to the starting position. Do this exercise 10 times on each side.
3. Back Flyes. While holding a weight in each hand, bend forward so your chest is over your thighs. Keep your back straight, feet flat on the floor and tighten your abs. Inhale, and as you breathe out, raise your arms out to the sides and up, while concentrating on squeezing your shoulder blades together. Inhale as you return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
The Blues Booster
Happy is the freelancer whose ideas always hit the mark; rare is that freelancer as well. Even though rejections, lost clients and missed opportunities are a regular part of our lives, it doesn’t mean that hearing the words “no thanks” doesn’t sting a bit. And if we hear those words just a little too often, they don’t just sting – they hurt. Then we get pessimistic and depressed. And then…well, let’s just say that it’s a nasty cycle. This routine, by Joanne Frederick, is a full-body stretch designed to rouse you from your depression and rid the body of the tension that frustration brings.
1. Torso Stretch: While sitting or standing raise arms over head and clasp hands together. Raise up from the torso feeling tension in the mid section. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
2. Bicep and Wrist Stretch: While sitting or standing stretch right arm out in front of you, palm facing up. With your left hand lightly pull down on the fingers of the right hand until you feel a stretch in the bicep and wrist. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
3. Shoulder Shrugs: While sitting or standing bring shoulders up towards the ears and hold for 1 second. Drop the shoulders and hold for 1 second. Repeat 5 times in each direction.
4. Neck Stretch: Bring head down towards left shoulder. With the left hand lightly pull down on the head feeling a stretch in mid to back of the neck. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
5. Back Stretch: Stand about a foot away from your desk or countertop. Slowly fold body over until your back is level with the floor. Your arms are stretched out holding onto desk surface. Slowly pull back until you feel a stretch along your back. Hold for 30 seconds.
6. Hamstring & Glute Stretch: From a standing position, bend slightly at the knees. Bring the right leg across the left knee and lightly press until you feel tension in the hams and glutes. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
7. Triceps Stretch: Bring left arm overhead, bend your elbow until your left hand is behind your back. Put your right hand on your left elbow and gently press down light stretching is felt. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the right arm.
The Boredom Brush-Off
Your freelance career is amazing, stimulating, and invigorating…except when it isn’t. We all know the dangers of being bored and working from home: the refrigerator. Instead of searching for leftover Christmas cookies, do these lower-body exercises, courtesy of Joanne Fredericks. And drink a big glass of water.
1. Leg Sweeps: Stand up and extend your right leg in front of your body with your toe pointed to the floor. In one controlled move, sweep your toe from the front to the side, to the back. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch to your left leg.
2. Hip Extensions: Start by lightly holding the back of a chair, wall or bar for support. Keeping the right leg straight, slowly lift it behind you while squeezing the buttocks. Return to the starting position without touching the floor and repeat 10 times. Repeat with the other leg.
3. Hip Abductions: Lightly hold the back of a chair, wall or bar for support. Keeping your right leg straight, slowly lift it to your right side, up away from your body. Lift your leg as high as it will comfortably go to maintain proper form and balance. Return to the starting position without touching the floor. Repeat 10 times and then switch to the left leg. Remember that it is more important to maintain proper form and balance than to lift the leg high.
What exercises do you do to keep in shape at home?
*Of course, I can’t help but add the usual disclaimer that you perform these exercises at your own risk; that you should consult your doctor before undertaking any new form of exercise, that FreelanceSwitch.com is not responsible for any injuries you incur while performing these exercises, etc.