CrossFit’s ‘Fittest Man on Earth’ and ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’ offer tips on how to stay in shape while stuck at home

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Gyms and fitness centers, like many other businesses that have been deemed nonessential during the coronavirus pandemic, have been shut down in most of the U.S. For some people, the closures are a convenient excuse not to work out, but for people who used to regularly go to a gym to stay fit, how can they work out at home and get similar results? MarketWatch asked the world’s fittest man and woman for tips.

“My home gym is, I don’t want to say absurd, but if every gym in the world was shut down I wouldn’t really skip a beat,” Mat Fraser, the CrossFit Games’ “Fittest Man on Earth,” told MarketWatch. “I have everything I need right at my house. Even down to a massage table, a sauna, an ice bath, it’s all right there.”

Fraser’s training regimen is tied to his livelihood, so it’s not surprising that he spares no expense. It pays off too. Fraser is the four-time CrossFit Games champion, winning the competition’s $300,000 prize last year.

Here are suggestions on how to stay fit at home from Fraser and Tia-Clare Toomey, a CrossFit star dubbed the “Fittest Woman on Earth.”

Work out in a group — digitally

CrossFit workouts are oftentimes done in large groups, in a communal-type atmosphere. Fraser thinks that working out with others, even if it’s digitally, can be a powerful motivator.

“We get it all the time. ‘Oh, if I didn’t have to go to work all day I could be a CrossFit Games athlete too. If I had the time to dedicate to it I would have a 6-pack.’ Now everyone has that time.”

— CrossFit champion Mat Fraser

“Every CrossFit gym is doing online zoom classes,” he says, adding that joining a class provides “that sense of community and accountability.”

CrossFit gyms are not alone in creating online workout groups during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, Blink Fitness is hosting daily Facebook Live workout sessions, Orangetheory posts daily workout videos with no equipment necessary, and Peloton is offering its app to new users for free.

Fortunately for Fraser and Toomey, they don’t need to go online to find a workout buddy, because they are currently training together in Kentucky — Toomey is a three-time CrossFit champion in her own right.

Tia-Clair Toomey, CrossFit Games champion and “Fittest Woman on Earth.”

The Fittest

Make a designated space your mental “trigger”

Fraser says getting mentally focused is one of the most difficult aspects of home workouts, and where you workout is a big part of that.

He contends that the “atmosphere change is almost like a mental trigger” for the brain. Being able to mentally differentiate where you eat or watch TV and where you exercise can be a big motivating factor.

“Whether it’s a spare bedroom, get the mattress out of the way, whatever it is. Now that’s your exercise space, so there’s one less barrier to entry when you do decide to go workout.”

And it isn’t always easy to adjust to working out at home. “Early in my career it was very difficult for me to do rowing at home,” Fraser says. “I had a rower at home and there was a rower at the gym, but I would still go to the gym because it was easier to get my mental head space around it.”

Create rewards for yourself

Having some sort of reward for yourself for working out can be a big factor in making exercise a lasting habit, he adds, whether it’s allowing yourself an extra snack or more time to watch Netflix NFLX, +0.14%.

“Set up a reward at the end of the day,” Fraser said. “Like, all right you did your workout, now you get to watch an extra 30 minutes of TV or whatever that is.”

Science backs up Fraser when it comes to reward systems. The medical journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience looks into the relationship between rewards and habit-building. In a study, it shows that dopamine the brain receives from such rewards can help build long-term behaviors — like working out.

Keep your mind fresh too

Part of staying physically fit is making sure you’re mentally fit. As more people are stuck at home, it’s easier to fall into sluggish routines. Toomey suggests that going outside can be a great way to change up your day.

“One day I just decided I wanted to get a little earthy and workout barefoot in the grass,” Toomey told MarketWatch. “Stuff like that has been really fun to do.”

Toomey knows that being able to do outside activities may not be possible for everybody, but she recommends that if it can be done safely, to mix things up by going outside for hikes and workouts.

She says it helps her “get a little vitamin D and just get outside the house a little bit to avoid any of that cabin fever that we might be having,” Toomey said.

Whether it’s going outside, putting together 500-piece puzzles or making TikTok videos, Toomey and Fraser have been keeping their minds fresh during their quarantine.

One thing Fraser jokingly brought up is that he will be watching how many people get totally ripped during the coronavirus pandemic. He says people oftentimes claim that if they had the time, they could get ripped too.

“We get it all the time. ‘Oh, if I didn’t have to go to work all day I could be a CrossFit Games athlete too. If I had the time to dedicate to it I would have a 6-pack.’ Now everyone has that time.”

Both Toomey and Fraser will be featured in the upcoming documentary “The Fittest,” which takes a closer look at the 2019 CrossFit Games when athletes were forced to adapt to dramatic competition changes in how their sports discover the “Fittest Man and Woman on Earth.”

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