Workouts That Don’t Need Equipment

This post, part of our special series on the Coronavirus outbreak, was written by Kat Adams, M.P.H. and BGCA Director of Sports & Recreation.

We’ve been posting ways to manage anxiety here on the ClubX Blog. But another way to deal with stress during this strange time is to literally lean into it! Exercising while you’re anxious is like tricking your mind and body – suddenly all those anxiety symptoms like a racing heart, sweaty palms, and trouble breathing are just a normal response to exercise. We know that exercise can be so important during these times that we are starting a series-within-a-series, #MovementMonday!

Exercise releases lots of different chemicals (neurotransmitters) in your brain that impact your mood. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are the four neurotransmitters responsible for happiness.  Exercise increases the production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, and balances your body’s production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

  • Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter and plays a role in feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and has been linked to motivation, focus, learning, and movement.
  • Serotonin is sometimes known as the ‘happy hormone,’ and boosts your mood and overall sense of well-being.
  • Endorphins are those feel-good neurotransmitters that release pain and stress.

Here are four quick at-home workouts that you can start right now without any equipment! Plus, links to more if you find one you really like!

101 Abs

A simple one to get started – 100 reps of this one exercise.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and up in the air, your knees and hips forming 90-degree angles.
  2. Reach your arms straight up to the sky
  3. As you reach your arms back down to the floor, lift your head and roll up with your shoulder blades just off the floor.
  4. Move your arms up and down as if you’re slapping the floor – and start counting!

For more 100 abs check out the 100 Ab Challenge from Blogilates (YouTube link here)! Every day for 30 days you do 100 reps of a different ab exercise every day for 30 days. You can break each exercise into smaller sets – I’m going to try 10 reps at the top of every hour to remind me to get up from my at-home desk!


This is a great outside option, and simple enough for the youngest of kids too! (But maybe pass on this one if you have downstairs neighbors)

  • 5 high jumps (jump as high as you can!)
  • 5 broad jumps (jump as far as you can!)

Repeat for 10 rounds, or 10 minutes (whichever comes first). For more body weight workouts and how-to videos, click here.

The Fast and the Furious

A four minute (yes, FOUR minute) high-intensity interval workout. Tabata training was discovered by Dr. Izumi Tabata from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. It alternates 20 second bursts of working out as hard as you can with a quick 10 second rest to build cardiovascular fitness AND muscle.

Here’s one workout to get you started (and an online timer designed specifically for it):

  • Do as many jumping jacks as you can for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds

Also try tabata with other exercises, like crunches, lunges, knee push-ups. For a longer workout, try this video. And here’s another good bodyweight Tabata workout.

Circuit Run

Social distancing doesn’t mean distancing yourself from outside! If you are able to be outside without being too close to others, try this run/walk workout that totals up to 20 minutes:

  • walk for 5 minutes to warm up

then do 6 rounds of:

  • run 1 minute
  • walk 1 ½ minutes

For more, try the Couch 2 5K program! The program alternates walking with short bits of running to build up to running a full 5k in 9 weeks. The original website (from 1996!) sadly no longer exists, but the UK’s National Health System has the program written out, an app, training tips, and podcasts for each workout!

Planet Fitness Home Work-Ins

Just because your gym is closed, doesn’t mean you cant still attend a workout classes!  Planet Fitness offers free, live-streamed workout videos every day.  The workouts change daily, and so do the instructors.  Tune in daily, and you might even be lucky enough to have a class lead by a celebrity! The latest celebrity led workouts were with The Biggest Loser trainer Erica Lugo, and NASCAR driver Joey Logano! Tune in daily on Facebook.

planet fitness

I hope you find at least one of these workouts helpful! It’s an understatement to say that it can be REALLY hard to want to exercise when you’re in the middle of a pandemic-fueled existential crisis, but even the smallest bit of physical activity can help you manage your stress. Next time you get anxious and your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy – lose yourself in a quick workout.

If you find yourself or someone you know in need of additional support during this difficult time contact:

  • Comprehensive resource database that connects you to specialists in your area to find the services and support for your specific needs
  • SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline1-800-985-5990: 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
  • Crisis Text Linetext “club” to 741741: 24/7, 365 day-a-year, national text line dedicated to providing immediate crisis text support for people who are experiencing emotional distress
  • Mental Health America: Find services and support in your area, learn about more about mental health and wellness on their website.

Check back in with the ClubX Blog often for more ideas and resources on how to maintain your mental and emotional well-being during this challenging time.  Stay safe.  Wash your hands.  Take care of yourself.  We are in this together! 

Get the latest updates from BGCA at, find programming ideas at, like the BGCA Youth Development on Facebook for YD updates including video from Sarah, and join the brand new BGCA Youth Development Community also on Facebook to connect with other Club staff on programming through coronavirus.

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