Moving into my apartment in Taiwan, I have had to adjust the way I do many things including my workouts. I am no longer in a space where I do not need to be conscious of people living above and below me; moreover, I have considerably less space than I did when I lived in the States.
As someone who is used to having gyms and other equipment at her disposal, fitting in a workout prior to going to work has been a challenge and if I’m totally honest, it doesn’t always happen.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to work out in a smaller space. Maintaining my mental health while abroad is extremely important to me, and exercising is one of the best ways to help me maintain that stability. Here’s what has worked for me thus far.
I quickly became accustomed to group fitness classes at the gym when I had a membership. Being surrounded by other people doing the same thing motivated me to keep up with them. However, I eventually cut my gym membership out of my budget due to the rising cost, which meant that I had (and still have) to motivate myself.
I have found that bodyweight exercises motivate me in a strange way; by using my own bodyweight, I feel a sense of gratification knowing that the temporary discomfort I’m feeling is my body becoming stronger.
For instance, I love cardio kickboxing and planks. I often mix that up with squats and other lower body exercises to make sure that I get a thorough workout.
There are so many bodyweight exercises you can perform that I can easily mix it up. I also watch a lot of YouTube workout channels and modify the exercises depending on how I feel that particular day and the limited equipment I have at my disposal.
Variety? Check. Minimal space? Check. Minimal equipment? Check.
No, I’m no longer lifting a 30 or 60 pound weights, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not challenged without them. I may not be in a gym, but using my own bodyweight to work out certainly works just as well.
Yoga and Pilates
I’m more of an intense cardio person. I like the endorphin rush and the inevitable mood boost that comes with intense cardio like ice skating, kickboxing, and running.
Sure, I could make time to get up at the crack of dawn to go for a run, but the climate in Taiwan is currently very hot and humid.
As I write this, Asia is in the middle of typhoon season. This means that in addition to the heat and humidity, there is also a fair amount of rain. While the rain doesn’t normally bother me (since I went to school in the Pacific Northwest), the mosquitoes do.
That being the case, I’d rather stay inside my apartment and engage in a short yoga flow or pilates workout from the comfort of my apartment where I have the option of air conditioning. Yoga and pilates are certainly less intense than the cardio I’m accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less of a workout. Yoga and pilates have allowed me to increase my flexibility and tone my muscles all while using minimal space and equipment, all of which are major positives in my book.
Both pilates and yoga offer a welcome reprieve from the more heart-racing cardio that I try to incorporate into my daily routine. Yoga is also a wonderful tool that helps me keep my mental health in check. There are also hundreds of yoga and pilates Youtube channels and online resources that I can access from within my apartment free of charge, another major plus.
Since arriving in Taiwan, I have been walking everywhere. (Riding a bike is also an option, but I am still mildly terrified of the roads here.) Walking everywhere gives me a chance to observe the people around me and explore the city while getting a workout in simultaneously.
Without the option of an elevator in my workplace, I am forced to take the stairs between classes, which allows me to get another workout in even while I’m working.
Walking everywhere also gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I am not leading a sedentary lifestyle. I discovered early on in my fitness journey that I prefer to get a workout earlier in the day. For me, getting an early workout in helps put me in a good mindset for the day ahead, which walking helps me with.
You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to help you reach your fitness goals; as I have learned, it is possible to work toward you goals even with limited space and resources. It means that you simply have to get creative and use what you have at your disposal.