How Working Out at Home Helped This Trainer Achieve Better Results

Emi Gutgold

JMA Photography

As gyms and fitness centers closed during the pandemic, researchers predicted a mass decrease in Americans’ physical activity levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even released warnings urging people to stay active to decrease their risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19. But according to research published in Frontiers in Psychology, a majority of people actually maintained or increased their exercise levels by working out at home.

That doesn’t mean the transition from the gym to the living room is always smooth, even for seasoned fitness experts. Emi Gutgold, CPI, CPT, a New York City-based Pilates instructor and personal trainer, says she was initially “absolutely not” a fan of home workouts. “It was definitely something I had to adapt to,” she explains.

Yet the pandemic didn’t just teach her how to make it work. The experience allowed her to explore creativity within her passion, discover new benefits to home-based exercise, and reach new heights in her personal fitness.

“It really became a success story for me and, even more importantly, for my clients,” she says. “I saw many of them achieve way better results by working out from home.” 

Starting to Work Out at Home

“Ever since I moved to New York, I always want to get out of my apartment—get to that [fitness] class or go running in the park or along the river,” Gutgold says. “I’ve always been sort of an on-the-go person in that respect.”

Still, when the pandemic restrictions came into effect, as an in-person trainer, she didn’t just have to pivot for her personal fitness, but for her career. 

“I live in New York City, and at the time of the pandemic, I lived in a studio apartment with my boyfriend (now fiance) and our dog and our cat,” she describes. “Working out from home just didn’t seem feasible.”

Even as she strove to take her business virtual, “every time I’d roll out my mat, [my puppy] would be all over me,” she says, laughing. While most people with pets can probably relate, “it just didn’t really make for a conducive work environment.” 

Developing a Home Workout Routine

Creating a personalized workout space that resonates with you is crucial, Gutgold notes. “I’m what maybe TikTok would call ‘an aesthetics girly,” and it took her some time to figure out what worked in her apartment. “I encourage anyone to be creative, and arrange your furniture and space to support your workout.” 

For Gutgold, accessibility is essential. “Make sure your living space is prioritized because you don’t want to become resentful that your living room looks like a gym instead of somewhere you’d put your feet up and relax,” she encourages. Keeping your equipment visible in a way that’s still functional for your home encourages consistency. “I think there is definitely some discovery to be done for each individual to make their space work for them.”

Enjoying Home Workouts

It’s tough to replicate the energy of your favorite fitness class, but Gutgold advises trying to create the headspace in your home or apartment that sets the right tone for you. Plus, instead of just rolling out your mat and half-heartedly getting on with your workout, these cues help trigger your mind and body to get in the zone, especially on those days you’re feeling unmotivated

This process will look different for everybody. “I prepare my home workouts in the same way I’d prepare if I was going to a class,” she explains. That could mean turning the lights down low and choosing a high-energy playlist to pump yourself up for a HIIT routine. Or, if you’re doing something meditative like Pilates or yoga, light a candle and get an aroma diffuser going to set the mood.

“Do whatever empowers you,” Gutgold emphasizes. “Pull your hair back into a cute hairstyle, put on your matching set, apply lipstick if you want to—do those small but sacred rituals to make yourself feel good.” 

Gutgold also notes that when working out at home, finding a sense of community was an important motivator for her as well. “I think it’s a common misconception that people who workout consistently always want to work out,” she says. “I can tell you that’s not the case.”

Emi Gutgold, CPI, CPT

Pull your hair back into a cute hairstyle, put on your matching set, apply lipstick if you want to—do those small but sacred rituals to make yourself feel good.

— Emi Gutgold, CPI, CPT

On those days when she was just in a funk, it was the workout community she’d built that kept her accountable to herself. “Whether you want to say it’s correlation or causation, [community] helps people stick with their workouts.” 

Achieving Goals by Working Out at Home

“I personally saw great results working out from home, and it was really empowering,” Gutgold says. “I think one of the things that I really appreciated working out from home is that you have to get creative, you have to be resourceful.” 

She also had the pleasure of witnessing her clients smash past plateaus and realize fitness goals faster. “Working out at home allows people to feel more focused on their routine,” she explains.

Gutgold explains that in today’s typical fitness culture, there are so many options and people want to try out every new trend, class, or studio. While variety is great—especially when it motivates you to keep active and have fun—cobbling all these different workouts together can get disjointed, stalling someone’s progress. 

“People really want something fresh and exciting and sexy every single time they work out,” she notes. “But often I see people working out too much, under-fueling, and not really doing the right workouts to see the results they want.”

She continues to explain how she’s an avid weightlifter and will do the same program for three or four months before she even thinks about switching it up. “It can feel a bit vanilla,” she says, but the challenge of working out at home helped her discover creative ways to keep workouts fresh and fun (for herself and her clients) while establishing that consistency that really delivers results. “That’s where the magic happens.” 

That said, whether you’re jumping on the treadmill at your gym, attending private training sessions, or trying out that hot new studio class, in-person fitness options do have that extra special touch. That’s why Gutgold sees a “hybrid” model—working out at home and mixing it up with some in-person training—as the path forward. “It’s just the right blend of getting the best of everything,” she says. 

A Word From VeryWell 

Working out from home is an empowering way to build a lasting routine that delivers serious fitness results. But if you’re new to working out, rehabbing an injury, or looking to advance your training, consider working with a certified professional to limit your risk of injury and develop the most effective, balanced program toward your personal goals. 

2 Sources
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  1. CDC. Physical activity and covid-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Brand R, Timme S, Nosrat S. When pandemic hits: exercise frequency and subjective well-being during covid-19 pandemic. Front Psychol. 2020;0. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.570567