Two women in a yoga workout pose, one stretched over the others back, sitting in front of window, empty manual wheelchair in background

There are a million disruptions to life during this pandemic, but exercise doesn’t need to be one of them. From weight lifting, to cardio, to yoga, it’s possible to get quality workouts at home, whatever your level of function. A few workout aids, like resistance bands and wrist weights would be ideal, but even if you don’t have and can’t get any, it’s still possible to get your heart rate up and your muscles firing with nothing but your body.

A Treasure Trove of Home Workouts

The Youtube channel Adapt to Perform is run by U.K.-based Ben Clarke, a C7 quad. His channel has a myriad of quality home workout videos, most of which can performed with minimal, or sometimes no specialized equipment. “It’s so important in this time of isolation,” says Clarke. “People getting their fitness means they are better off both mentally and physically.”

Clarke recommends people start with exercises that help with posture and mobility to build a good foundation. Here are a few of his favorite videos to get you started:

Shoulder Mobility Routine — can be completed in your chair and requires no equipment.
Shoulder/Rotator Protection Routine — can be completed in your chair with lightweight resistance bands.
10-minute Wheelchair Cardio — Can be completed in your chair with a broom handle as the only equipment.
Wheelchair Kettlebell Routine — A strength workout that can be complete in your chair with simple kettlebells.
30-Day Fitness Challenge — A playlist of 30 videos, all of which can be completed with only dumbbells and resistance bands, including everything ranging from cardio to strength to yoga and more.
Livestream — Clarke is also livestreaming a home workout every day, until the U.K. is out of mandatory isolation. Stream starts at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific and is followed by a conversation with a rotating cast of folks from the disability community, which Clarke says start as a way of “helping people through the loneliness and anxiety at this time.”

Getting Grounded

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years for its multitude of physical and psychological benefits. Even if you’ve never tried it before, grounding yourself with some adaptive yoga could be a huge help, given the constantly evolving situation we find ourselves in. Adapt to Perform has some good, simple yoga videos. A Youtube search for “Adaptive Yoga” provides a number of workouts as well.

For a deeper dive into the various ways you can use yoga to center your body and calm your mind, it’s worth checking out the “Yoga for Paralysis” series by Quinn Brett on Yogaanytime.com. While the site is a subscription based service, you can get a 30-day free trial by signing up with the code QUINN. That’s enough to get you through the immediate term, establish a good foundation and decide whether continued access is worth it to you. Just remember to cancel in time if you don’t want to be charged.

Brett is a T12 para, a wheelchair user and a high-level athlete. The series takes you through everything from basic seated moves, to meditation, more advanced stretching and lengthening methods, floor practices and even moves to do with a partner. For anyone who is just getting into adaptive yoga, Brett has a few recommendations: “Pay attention as you get into the poses for the first time,” she says. “Just as we ease into stretching what we can feel and move, we need to be careful of diving in too quickly with the body parts we can’t feel. When I am over-stretching or in an uncomfortable position, I get a particular spasm. I back off a little bit and ease back into it.”

While some of the motions and techniques are advanced and require core function, most everything on her site is easily adaptable by those with less function. “Get creative with straps and pillows and blankets and partners,” says Brett. “You can do a lot if you have a helping hand and good communication. As we all know with spinal cord injury, everyone is different. So do what works best for you.”

Getting Into It

If you want to use this time to jumpstart your fitness, there are a number of inexpensive items that can be purchased on Amazon to get you started on a home gym. For a full rundown on how to setup your own adaptive home gym and how to use all your equipment, check out “7 Budget-Friendly Products for a High-Performance Home Gym.”

Obviously, we haven’t included everything here, but we hope that these are enough to get you started. Depending on population density and restrictions in your area, getting outside for a push or going on a handcycle ride are still options. If you have any favorite, or unique, ways of keeping fit while you’re social distancing, please let us know by commenting here or on our social media feeds.