The author, photographed via FaceTime, demonstrates the “bird-dog”. Photography: Andi Elloway

Bare-Minimum Moves for People With No Time to Exercise

If squeezing in a workout feels like a pipe dream, here’s a little something you can do instead

Anna Maltby
Published in
8 min readMay 5, 2020


A notification just popped up on my phone’s lock screen from the app FitOn. “NEW Quarantine Workouts,” it said. “Gab Union and DWade will make you sweat, laugh all at the same time.”

“God, I love Gabrielle and Dwyane. That sounds so fun,” I thought. And then I picked up the baby I’d just finished nursing, changed her diaper, set her down on a blanket, loaded the dishwasher, and picked up my laptop to go back to work (I’m Elemental’s new executive editor, btw — hello!) for a few minutes before a toddler lost a dinosaur and needed my help finding it.

Among a certain set, there seems to be a renewed focus on fitness right now: Studios and apps are streaming countless classes every day, people are setting ambitious goals for their at-home workout routines, Jake Gyllenhaal is filming himself putting on a T-shirt while in a handstand. And when ~all of this~ started, I, too, got a tiny bit excited about having more time to exercise now that commuting from Brooklyn to Medium’s Manhattan offices wouldn’t be part of the equation. I got a new pair of running shoes. I downloaded FitOn!

Then reality set in. You’ve probably already read all those great pieces about how, as lucky as one may be to have a home and a job and not have to work in a hospital or a grocery store, it is still not easy to work full time and have small children living in your home and cook and clean all the things and take care of the cats and fix the broken appliances yourself. I’m not going to try to write my own version, because I don’t have time. And anyway, what I would do if I did have time is exercise.

Spending so much time staring at a computer or hunching over a baby means that much of my day is spent with the muscles on the front of my body contracting and the muscles on the back lengthening.

As it happens, though, in addition to being a full-time coronavirus editor, I am a certified personal trainer. I don’t usually train clients, but I do know a bit…



Anna Maltby

Editor and writer. Past: Elemental, Real Simple, Refinery29, SELF. Certified personal trainer; prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist. Cat & person mom.