Dear 100 Hour Board,
How do I create a balanced exercise schedule? I'm no longer a student, on a tight budget, and have kids, so figuring something out to do at home would be ideal. My goal is just to improve overall health, strength, and flexibility. I see super fancy workout schedules on Pinterest, but being a novice exerciser they seem overly complicated or too intense. Do you have ideas or resources I should check out?
-Fit in February
I'm a huge fan of workout videos for home exercises. You can find a lot of really great ones for free on Youtube, for all sorts of different exercises. Some of them require certain equipment (yoga mats, dumbbells, etc), but I've found that you can almost always get away without having those things, and simply modify the exercise or use something else you have on hand. For example, my freshman year I always used random cans of food as weights when working out to exercise videos. It wasn't the best solution, and I probably could have gotten better results with actual dumbbells, but it was better than nothing. I'm a big fan of Jillian Michaels' stuff on Youtube, and most of it (at least what I've done) can be done without any special equipment, so you could consider checking her out. You can also find endless yoga videos on Youtube, and yoga is a really great way to improve both your flexibility and your strength, while also relaxing you; it's great!
Once upon a time Q answered a question about working out for me, and he included some good resources for free workout plans. Obviously you don't need to use them if you don't want to or if you think the plans look too overwhelming, but you can if you want. Here's the relevant information from his answer:
I would suggest starting with bodybuilding.com as it is very informative and has a large range of free workout plans. You can find the free workout plans here and if you have a question about any of the exercises you can look them up here...
Be warned that bodybuilding.com generates revenue from selling supplements, and will try to tell you that you need them. This is not the case, but if it interests you, you can look up unbiased scientific research of different supplements and compounds at examine.com. Also you should know that supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and so advertising can be very misleading.
You could also make your own workout plan. You say you want to improve your overall health, strength, and flexibility, and the best way to get that is probably through a mixture of cardio, strength training, and stretching. Cardio will help burn fat and keep your heart healthy, strength training builds muscle and improves your metabolism, and stretching helps with flexibility. All of them help with general healthiness, as well, and have several "spill-over" effects that might make an impact in a different area of fitness than you're necessarily expecting. For the best results with strength training, focus on a certain muscle group every day. For example, you could do one day where you focus on your back, one day for your arms, one day for your chest, and one day for your legs. If you don't know what specific exercises to do to target a muscle group, this page should be pretty helpful, because you can browse for exercises based on muscle groups.
Focusing on calisthenics might be useful for you, because all you need is the weight of your own body, no extra equipment. That makes it easier to do from home, and also a little less overwhelming when you're just getting started. One of my personal favorites is the countdown workout: you start by doing 10 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 10 crunches, and 10 seconds of jumping. Then you do 9 of each of those things, then 8, then 7, etc, until you get to the last set where you just do 1 of each. I would do this on my mission a lot, and it was pretty good at breaking a sweat and helping me feel like I was actually accomplishing something. Plus it can be done in a relatively short amount of time, so you can sneak it in wherever works best for you.
No matter what you do, you'll probably have to work out surrounded by kids and messiness (unless your life is much more organized than that of most moms I know). That's obviously a deterrent to working out, and I admittedly have zero experience with finding the motivation to exercise in the midst of raising a family, but I know people who are married with kids who assure me it can be done. Depending on how old your children are you could maybe get them involved in the workout, too; try turning it into a sort of game to do with them. Or you could also say that I have no experience in this matter and ignore all the advice in this paragraph, and that would be okay, too.
Whatever you end up deciding, good luck! You got this!