Two that I’ve been using consistently in my Zoom workouts are jumping jacks and squats. Both are simple, and infinitely variable. Note that I’m also writing a post discussing these, but you’re welcome to use them, too.
Jumping jacks are a classic callisthenic exercise. They are simple, and use tons of energy. But what if you can’t jump? They can be hard on troublesome ankles and knees. I’m recovering from a foot problem/surgery, and a wonky knee, so no jumping for me. That’s OK, there’s another way, and it offers lots of options.
I bounce on one foot (keeping it on the floor), and lift the other. You can do these big or small, fast or slow, straightforward or complicated. My 80+ y/o mom does these in our Zoom workouts, maybe with less bounce, but pretty high leg lifts!
The one-legged kind are low-impact, build balance, and can work for anyone who doesn’t want to wake their roommate or annoy the downstairs neighbors.
Non-Jumping Jack Variations
There are so many ways to do this simple exercise! You can adjust the energy level, balance challenge, and mental difficulty.
To warm up, try simple one-legged non-jumping jacks at at moderate pace. Start with eight on each side, two sets. Easy, simple, and you can adjust the difficulty to suit your fitness level.
Get your blood pumping!
After a short breather try a set of faster ones. Here’s a fun pattern: Do 10 on each side, then 9, 8, 7, etc. I do these a bit faster than Mom, so I start with two sets of ten, and then count down. This variation develops balance, and also requires a little more quick thinking, especially as you get down to 4, 3, 2, and 1.
Engage your brain, too.
Variations can include front-side-front-side, high kicks clapping hands under your knee, marching with jumping-jack arms, etc.
Engage your hips.
We often don’t get much side-to-side movement in our daily lives. Those sideways muscles help keep our hips sound and healthy.
Squats, same deal. Slow/fast, small/big, with or without weights. Mom does them with a chair behind her, but as I pointed out the other days she’s never actually needed it (like failing/falling). It’s just there for safety. A chair reminds people to get their butt back, too.
Bodyweight, down (not touching the chair, if you’re using one) and back up at a moderate pace for an easy warmup. We do eight. To add a little power, down at a moderate pace, then spring up like you sat on a tack. To add more time under load we do slow ones – down for a count of four, hold (“porta-potty squat”) for four, up for four, rest for four. Those are pretty hard, and have practical applications for women in gross public restrooms. Another is down-and-hold, , sit on the chair, up and hold – hovering over the chair, then all the way up.