From Gym Rat to Home Body


Since joining a gym in May of 2017, I’ve become a bit of a gym rat. I got hooked on regular group exercise classes, learned how to properly strength train and utilized the services of the gym’s dietician.


As of August, I was checking into the facility 6 or 7 times a week.


While my physical health is still a work in progress, I have achieved clear results from a combination of healthier eating and regular exercise.


I felt great about myself and grew to really love the supportive community of people I interacted with regularly at the gym. And then I got a job and everything had to change.


Since 2017, the gym had become a safe haven for me. It was a place to socialize with other stay at home moms. It was a place to work out any mental frustrations I had, while also focusing on my body. It was my happy place.


Suddenly, I was facing no longer being able to go more than twice a week.


The gym opens at 5:30 a.m. daily, but since I have to leave before 7 to get to work, I can’t waste time with driving to and from the gym every morning.


This leaves the at home workout.


A friend from high school recently wrote an article about how quitting the gym changed her life. While the link to her piece is no longer active, I remember feeling inspired by how much she loves working out at home. She was kind enough to offer me some suggestions for great at home workouts when it became clear that I was going to be working full time.


I’ve always been someone who jumps out of bed and starts her day without issue when the alarm goes off, but I do like to move slowly in the morning. I like to sit and enjoy breakfast and my coffee in silence, so I never had a problem setting my alarm to wake up before my kids.


However, with starting a job, I no longer had that luxury. Everything about my morning is a rush but I make sure I start the day with a workout.


This means waking up at 5 a.m. (and going to bed at 9 p.m.!). I leave my workout clothes next to my bed for quick access in the morning. The night before, I run through my workout options on YouTube and load up a video on my laptop so it’s all ready to go.


Then I eat a piece of fruit so my blood sugar doesn’t get too low while I exercise.


By 5:15 every morning, I’m in my basement, sneakers on, ready to go.


By 5:50 every morning, I’m in the shower.


My workouts can be no longer than 30 minutes every day, which was a weird adjustment at first. I never felt like 30 minutes was effective, but given my time constraints, I have to make it work.


Over the summer, my dietician recommended that I aim for four hours of exercise per week, so I’ve made it a goal to do four 30 minutes workouts Monday through Thursday and then go for an hour each day of the weekend.


Since I started this new workout regime, I’ve come to really like the 30 minute workout. Because the time is so short, I don’t have an opportunity to slack off. I have to get in, get sweaty and get my heart rate up as quickly as possible to make a difference in those 30 minutes.


I search YouTube for challenging workouts that will have me breaking a sweat within minutes. I’ve become particularly attached to HASfit and PopSugar Fitness videos. Both offer a variety of fun and intense workouts in 20, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. Their offerings are huge from HIIT training with weights to cardio kickboxing.


Unlike my gym routine where I took the same classes every week, I’m getting more of a variety of exercises at home. I’m constantly trying something new to mix things, exploring a ballet inspired workout one day and intense lunge and squat circuits the next.


On the weekend, I’m back to the gym, but now I find that a 60 minute class seems too long. I love the intense burn of a 30 minute high intensity session more than I thought I would.


On Sundays, I take a 30 minute express spin class and then tackle a weights circuit after. Following spin one day, a bunch of us were raving about how much we loved the 30 minute class. We all felt that we worked harder since we knew our time was limited. One woman mentioned that the 30 minute at home workout killed her interest in 60 minute classes.


I’m finding that so true myself. The 30 minute workout packs just the right punch to start my day off well. The adrenaline puts me in a great mood and I love that I can check working out off my schedule first thing in the morning.


The only aspect of the shorter workouts that I find challenging (besides the 5 a.m. wake up) is that I’m more sore because I’m pushing myself so much in that short amount of time. So I have to try and mix up my routine. I aim for 2 HIIT workouts a week, one strength training session and one day of dance.


When my kids are older, I hope to be able to return to regular gym workouts. Unfortunately most classes are either at dinner time or right after, when my girls are getting ready for their early bedtimes. By the time I pick them up and get home, it’s already 4:30 and I need to start getting dinner ready. But eventually, they’ll be old enough to stay up later and I’m hoping I’ll be able to take one or two evening classes a week.


But until that day, I’m going to keep pushing myself at home with new and challenging 30 minute workouts. 



Dorothy Sasso is a Lifestyle Writer for She’s It, LLC. She has written for “Soap Opera Digest”,, and the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. Her work focuses on infertility, pregnancy and parenting, and also includes book reviews, features, interviews and event previews. After leaving a teaching career to raise her two daughters, she has loved returning to her roots as a writer. Currently, she is working on a novel. Follow her on Twitter (@dorothysasso, @maybebabyclub) and Instagram (@dorothy_sasso_reads, @maybebabyclub) for book reviews, various writing and assorted musings. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, daughters and two cats.