Pressed for time? No budget for a gym membership? Just plain loathe the idea of doing jumping jacks in front of skinny people? I can totally relate. All those machines and people with muscle tone can be intimidating. Sometimes it’s easier to set up a little home gym with a few simple pieces of equipment to help you improve your fitness. You can get everything you need for under $100.
Yoga Ball ($15)
There are a lot of great uses for a yoga ball. You can use it to add core resistance to upper body exercises, for example. But one of the simplest uses for a yoga ball is for aerobic activity, especially if you have physical issues with your lower extremities and can’t do typical cardio activities like aerobics like jogging or walking. Just sit on the ball and bounce! It’s a quiet activity, you can do it while watching TV or reading, and you’ll burn calories, while also building core and leg strength.
Sticky Mat ($20)
Whether you have carpeted, wood, or tile floors, a sticky mat or other padded workout mat is a must, in my opinion. Even if you don’t do yoga, you will be doing stretches, and the mat makes it much more comfortable to do floor exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, or even some resistance moves. When I do head to the gym for fitness classes, I prefer to bring my own mat. I started out with a cheap mat, but the cheaper they are, the thinner they are. Splurge on a mat that is at least 5mm or 1/4in thick.
You need resistance in order to break down muscle, because it’s the rebuilding of muscle that increases strength and leads to those toned arms and legs we all dream of. You can buy some barbells, but they can be expensive, and you have to buy two of each weight, and it’s just not cost-effective. I learned that lesson the hard way.
A better option is to use resistance bands. I prefer the tubes to the thin latex strips because they’re more versatile. Anything you would think of doing with a traditional barbell, you can do with resistance bands– and more. Biceps, triceps, deltoids, and all parts of the legs can be worked with the bands, and you won’t bruise your toe if you accidentally bump into one in the middle of the night.
Weighted Jump Rope ($11)
Cardio work is a quick and easy way to burn calories, and we want to always try to multitask if we can. You can jump rope indoors, outdoors, or even in your garage– it doesn’t take up a lot of room, and it’s something quiet you can do while the kids are napping. Five minute of jumping rope as a warm up or as a main cardio event will not only get your blood pumping and metabolism revving, it will also work to tone your arms and legs. Using a rope with, like the Valeo JRW1 1 lb. Weighted Jump Rope weighted handles add just a little resistance for the arms.
Exercise DVD (Price Varies)
I prefer DVDs that have short, 20-minutes or less workouts that really break down each exercise to make sure you’re doing it right. Three of my favorites are Jillian Michaels’ 30-day Shred, Shazzy Fitness A Time to Dance, and Yoga for Christians.
In 30-day Shred, the video includes three 20-minute workouts that you’re supposed to do for 10 days each. You can really feel yourself getting stronger with each passing day as you do the workouts. Each session also includes a variety of intensity levels.
Shazzy Fitness videos are fun, and suitable for the whole family. It’s hip-hop dance with Christian
music. The choreographer breaks down each move, then puts them all together in a short dance. My kids will even do this one with me. It’s long enough that you will break a sweat and work toward toning your muscles, but not so long that you’ll avoid doing it on a regular basis.
Another go-to workout DVD of mine is Yoga for Christians. Susan Bordenkircher wrote a book to accompany the DVD, acknowledging yoga’s Eastern religious origins, while also emphasizing the overwhelming health benefits of including yoga in our fitness regime. I kid you not– any time I have an ache or pain anywhere in my body, I pop in this dvd, and usually with just one session, a pain that I’ve lived with for weeks disappears almost immediately. This one will make you sweat.
I actually do enjoy going to the gym, but I’m in one of those seasons of life where it’s just not gonna happen. Maybe you’re there as well. There’s a lot that you can do with just a few pieces of strategic equipment that will go a long way toward helping you achieve your fitness goals. And unlike a gym membership, once you buy it– it’s there, ready for you to use at any time of the day or night.
Is there a piece of home gym equipment that you can’t live without?