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Going to a well-equipped gym is great. I go to mine several times a week and I love the range of fitness classes offered there.
But there are times when I just can’t.
I have a work deadline that keeps me chained to my desk except for quick coffee breaks, or I have to get through a long day of driving from errand to errand.
On days like that, taking the time to go to and from the gym and spend the hour I need there is just not in the cards.
Maybe it’s the same for you. Or maybe your budget doesn’t have room for the initiation fee most gyms require on top of the monthly cost.
Or maybe you just don’t feel comfortable huffing and puffing in a group environment, feeling like a klutz in the back of the room at Zumba, and changing in a communal locker room.
These are real issues and I’ve been there too.
Whatever your reason for not joining a gym is, you know that fitness is important to your health.
Having a home gym means that you can get a workout at whatever time of day is best for you.
It means you can break up an hour of exercise into 15-minute blocks throughout the day if that is better for your schedule.
It means weather and car breakdowns won’t stop you from taking care of yourself.
Exercise equipment can be expensive but a simple home gym doesn’t have to cost much at all or take up a lot of space.
You only really need 5 things.
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Here are the most important things to start with in your home gym.
A yoga mat does not only have to be used for yoga practice. It’s great to lay on a cold wood floor or scratchy carpeting to do morning stretches.
It’s also great for a heart-pumping set of calisthenics or to stabilize yourself while doing weights.
And it’s also good for yoga, of course. Whether you take it to class at a studio or follow along with a DVD or class on TV.
The one I selected is great quality, has very good reviews and is only $14.95. I actually have a couple of these at home because my daughters and I like to do yoga together.
Yes, I’m recommending those big inflated balls you see everywhere. There’s a reason they’ve been a gym staple since they were invented. You can use them for so many things! Abdominal and leg workouts, done on a stability ball, work your muscles deep while gently cushioning the rest of your body and working your core. My trainer has me sit, then roll the ball down under me until it’s under my back and then do multiple sets of arm weight exercises in that position. My arms hurt for days but my back is always protected. This one comes with a pump and extra air plug and is currently $22.
Tone Fitness has an amazing price on a 5 lb weight. At only $4 at the time of publishing, you can afford to get a couple more. The 10 lb is currently $8 and the 15-lb is $12. I recommend you invest in the 5-lb and 10-lb weights, to begin with. You’ll be blown away by how much more of a workout you get from using a kettlebell while doing simple exercises.
This $25 set is the one I have at home. It has bands with easy-to-hard resistance levels and an exercise chart that will help you get a complete body workout. If you truly can only afford to buy one thing at a time on your budget, choose this one. You can get a complete body workout if you follow their suggested routines. And it’s easy to pack if you are traveling and there’s no gym available where you’re going.
When people think of fitness trackers, they usually think Fitbit.
Fitbit is a very good product and they have popularized trackers, but they are not the only game out there.
Teslasz has been in business for quite awhile and this stylish band will track your steps, activity and sleep. It comes in several colors and has rave reviews too! All that and a price you can’t beat for under $17!
There you have it. 5 awesome products for a total of $95, plus tax, and you have what you need for a pretty nifty home gym.
The only thing I might add would be an inexpensive wall mirror to watch your form. That’s important to avoid injuries.
Next, let’s look at cardio.
I see a lot of trainers recommend jump ropes for home workouts.
I don’t. Jump ropes are hard on the joints, especially knees. Unless you LOVE to jump rope, I think it’s a tough workout for most people and likely to lead to stopping exercise due to pain and injury.
Instead, make a list of activities, you actually love doing, that will move your body consistently for at least 30 minutes a day.
Here’s a list of the things I like and do.
1. Take your dog for a brisk 15 minute walk every morning and evening.
2. Dance – go to Zumba if you like it, or just dance. By yourself around the house, with your husband, just dance! (cue Bowie music here)
3. Walk with a friend and catch up on all the news. Extend your distance a little every day.
4. Have you always wanted to be a runner but didn’t know how to start? Schedule yourself for a 5K a few months from now and follow the Active 10-week Plan for Beginning Runners
5. Go for hikes with your family on the weekend. It’s amazing what gorgeous places you can find in your own neighborhood.
6. Ride a bike. You can cover a lot of ground while biking and you don’t need fancy equipment, just a helmet and a bike you can comfortably use. Find bike trails in your area and even join a Meet Up group once in awhile.
7. Housework – seriously! Housework can be real cardio if you want it to be. I’ll cram a bunch of things together and try to do them as fast as I can. Take the laundry downstairs and get it started. Go back up to make the bed. Clean the bathroom (scrub hard) and take the dirty towels down to wait their turn at the washing machine. Sweep and vacuum the downstairs as if your life depended on it. If your house has stairs, find excuses to go up and down as often as you can. Before you know it, you’ve done it all in record time and you’re sweating up a storm!
I hate housework but thinking of it as exercise makes me power through it.
8. When you’re out on errands, park at the furthest end of the parking lot from your destination. I NEVER park nearby, even if there’s plenty of space available. Extra distance = extra steps
9. On rainy/snowy/freezing/blistering hot days when you really can’t get out, check out YouTube cardio workouts. Here are some of my favorites:
- a. Fitness Blender has a great 6 week low-impact cardio workout for beginners – no equipment needed
- b. BodyFit by Amy has a 10 minute beginner cardio workout for beginners – She’s very engaging and fun to exercise with and she does a lot of kettlebell workouts.
- c. PsycheTruth’s fun beginner dance workout will get you on your feet and moving to the toe-tapping music. Easy to follow.
The BEST workout is the one that you will do consistently, so experiment.
Try new things.
Look around your home and think outside the box. What do you do that could be turned into a workout session?
Whatever it is that gets you moving and gives you joy can be turned into a great at-home workout.