We Tried 21 Days of at-Home Workouts—Here’s How It Changed Our Outlook on Fitness

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At-home workouts are pretty ideal for people with busy schedules (so, pretty much every human). You roll out of bed, throw on your activewear, and get straight to sweating. The problem? Finding the motivation to actually power through at your maximum potential.

It's easy to slack off when it's just you looking down at your sneakers, willing yourself to bust out one more rep, versus having a professional trainer cheering you on IRL.

Enter LES MILLS On Demand—the all-in-one fitness platform that features over 800 workouts from HIIT to yoga to dance—that's essentially an entire boutique fitness studio in your phone. Our editors' question: Would the at-home format really be as motivational as the studio classes they're used to?

To find out, two editors signed up for the Back To You 21-day challenge, which was created to help people "bring the focus back to their own health after the summer break," explains Dr. Jinger Gottschall, a former triathlete who works with the head of research at Les Mills to test exercise programming. Because lets be honest, packing your sneakers on vacation takes up valuable real estate in your carryon.

Les Mills proposed two workout plans for the challenge: Level 1.0 (for the wellness curious, designed to ease your body back into exercise with fun, short workouts) and Level 2.0 (for wellness fanatics who are ready for an amped-up challenge).

Since no workout is complete without the right outfit (duh), our editors sported the Les Mills x Reebok collection head-to-toe, and set out to put the on-demand motivation to the test.

Keep reading to find out how these editors rated their new at-home workout routine.

at-home workout routine
Photo: Les Mills

Level 1.0—Alex Taylor

You caught me: I'm wellness-curious. I played soccer my entire life, but being the overly competitive person I am, I never considered it a "real workout." Once I left the days of daily practices and mandatory conditioning with a coach pushing me all the way through, I realized self-motivated fitness is hard.

But this fall, I was committed to re-starting my lagging fitness routine, and hit up the Les Mills Level 1.0 in the 21-day challenge to do it. The plan made getting started super simple, and had me follow step-by-step tutorial videos for the first and second week, so I could nail each move before I dove into the more arduous workouts. "The tutorials help build confidence and enable beginners to focus on the safe execution of the more complex and integrated movements," Dr. Gottschall says.

Not to brag or anything, but after the CXWORX tutorial, which focused on pretty much my whole body (re: abs, arms, and legs), I felt like a total boss. After that, I mastered the BODYCOMBAT (dedicated to cardio) and BODYBALANCE (for flexibility) tutorials. With seemingly zero hitches, it propelled me to give the real-deal workouts a shot sooner than I expected.

Another cool thing about the wellness-curious plan was that I didn't have to buy a ton of equipment. "We’ve created equipment-free options to highlight you can gain fitness and strength without any special gear," Dr. Gottschall explains.

And TBH, equipment was totally not necessary. Every move sparked a burn just by using my body weight and paying close attention to the trainer. Before these three weeks, I'd never trust myself to get a "real workout" at home, but now? I'm a total pro.

at-home workout routine
Photo: Les Mills

Level 2.0—Erin Flynn

Fitness has become such a major part of my life that the temptation to skip a workout class doesn't even enter my mind. Don't get me wrong—I'm all about listening to my body and taking rest days, but I know I feel more energized, productive, and generally happier when I'm in a groove with my fitness routine.

But as a result of that commitment, my routine can become a little too familiar. I sometimes end up giving less than 100 percent in my workouts because the instructor's motivations don't hype me up in the same way they did when I was hearing them for the first time.

That's why I was excited to switch things up with Level 2.0 of the 21-day challenge, which promised to fire up my fitness via super-sweaty cardio, strength, and HIIT workouts I could do with minimal equipment and without the trek to the gym or studio.

On day one, I blew through my first BODYPUMP class—which I was able to pull off in the tiny living room of my New York City apartment—and thought, "Only 30 minutes? Piece of cake." The next day though, my sore legs were singing a different tune. As I flowed through a BODYBALANCE class to help them recover, I realized that I'd probably been placing too much emphasis on the length of my workouts rather than the intensity. Lesson learned.

By the end of the 21 days, I had familiarized myself with the workout formats so I could really go all-in during each session, and my sore muscles were feeling the results of my efforts in the best way. And with a different workout every day of the week—with days for guided mindfulness and rest in the mix—the plan kept me on my toes (literally) and the inspirational instructors kept me coming back for more.

"After three weeks the results will be greater psychologically," Dr. Gottschall says. "You may feel mentally and physically healthier, and will have learned to be consistent with a new exercise schedule."

I definitely felt that mental shift, as I'd experienced firsthand how consistently putting max effort into my workouts helped me score even more of those benefits I'd gotten hooked on in the first place—no studio required.

Want to try the 21-day challenge for yourself? Click here to sign up for a free trial of LES MILLS On Demand and download the plans. Plus, share your experience for a chance to win one of three Reebok x Les Mills swag bags.

In partnership with LES MILLS™ On Demand

Top photo: Pietro Karras/Stocksy

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