I know this is a statement of the obvious, but I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist. As always, you should do your own research and consult with your doctor before embarking on a change in diet, exercise, etc.
It doesn’t take much to carve out a home gym. All you need is a small space and a well thought out routine to follow. Don’t stress or limit yourself on where. I’ve set up areas from my living room, to a main hallway in a condo, a back patio in warmer weather, my hotel room when traveling, and even in a garage. The house I live in now has offered up the opportunity to build an actual “gym” in a designated room, however, I know based on the equipment I have chosen it can travel and be set up anywhere in the world in any sized home, garage, or apartment.
I am asked by friends and family what I really gravitate towards when choosing items for my personal gym and that is super simple to answer; multi functional with minimal (size/space) impact. If you are just starting out or reassessing what your home gym has the five pieces below should be something you’ll carry for the rest of your life. I’ve never regretted these purchases and when push came to shove all fit into a rubbermaid tote for easy storage.
Do I have a gym equipment wish list this year? Sure. I hope to add a weight bench (husband request) and a TRX band system in the future. Equipment I’ll be updating due to safety, resistance bands; both handle and loops. Items that are meant to hold tension made of rubber like materials should always be replaced every couple of years to keep from injury due to snapping.
One | Bosu Ball
What are the benefits of a Bosu Ball? Hands down its versatility. It can be used both flat side down and up. The domed side is best known for aerobic exercise and athletic drills. Flip the domed side down and you have the perfect balance trainer. Bosu forces the user to engage more muscles in order to stabilize themselves giving a more over all body experience.
What kind of workouts can you use a bosu? Here’s a list of basic moves that a bosu ball can elevate to the next level:
Squats / Squat Jumps
Squats with over head press
Push ups / Planks
Two | Free Weights
Labeled as one of the most versatile and efficient pieces of gym equipment, free weights allow your body to move through all three planes of motion. They are not fixed to a certain piece of equipment making it easy to simulate everyday movement. For example bicep Curls can take on the same workout as lifting groceries from your car into your house. By engaging several muscle groups to gain stability, using free weights help with balance, coordination, and torch serious calories.
I use to work with individual free weight sets from 5-25 lbs each, however, my husband saw that storing these sets were becoming harder as I became stronger, so he bought the Bowflex SelectTech 552. The verdict? I’m in love! In just two hand held weights I can lift anywhere from 5 lbs to 52.5 by clicking the lock into place and never have to compromise space. If you are just starting out you don’t need such a large range, however, save your floors and invest in sets wrapped in neoprene.
Three | Resistance Bands
Ever gone on vacation just to realize the hotel has no gym or a full gym *raises hand*? Pack a lightweight resistance band and get a great 15-30 minute workout in your room. The benefits don’t just end at easy transportation; they are cost-effective, adaptable for all fitness levels, add resistance to everyday exercises, can give a whole body total workout, save on storage space, easy to use alone, and can easily be combined with other equipment.
Four | Yoga Mat
Ever worked out on the floor with sweaty hands and feet? The outcome is not pretty as you slip and slide. The benefits of a yoga mat range from adding stability, comfort, protects joints from falls as well as muscles from straining, and defines the space you will be working in.
Need a fairly inexpensive but well made mat? Check out Incline on Amazon. I own the Carrara Marble print but it was so hard to choose! The tropical palm leaf, geometric, and ombre were definitely on my list. Have some money to splurge? I love the Yoga Zeal Mat, and so do other yogis because Nordstrom can barely keep them in stock!
Five | Foam Roller
Weight lifter? Runner? They already know how amazing foam rolling can be. I just recently bought my first foam roller before starting bootcamp with much skepticism on it really helping soreness. Without rolling it took me two to three days to recover. Foam rolling cut it down to maybe a day. I am a total believer, and you will be too. Rolling can break up scar tissue, prevents injury, speeds up recovery, improves mobility and flexibility, removes that nasty lactic acid which brings on soreness, saves you money on the need for a sports massage, and can even be used as a piece of exercise equipment.
The trick is to roll for 60 seconds at a slow pace, always moving. Spending too much time in one position puts extreme pressure on that spot creating an environment for injury by hitting a nerve or damaging tissue.
In my opinion your core is one of the most important muscles to your body. A weak core can bring back and joint pain. By planking you can improve your balance and posture, improve mood, flexibility, and give you a toned belly when performed while eating a balanced diet. You’ll need minimal if no equipment, just a Yoga Mat, to prevent injury on smooth floors. I also love the number of different workouts that you can do just by being in the planking position. Try these 10 different workouts to challenge, strengthen, and tighten your core.
Resistance Band Run (grab a partner)
This is a bootcamp move and one of my favorites. Have your partner position themselves in a sitting wall squat against a wall. Wrap the band around your waist while your partner holds the handles. Don’t forget to time yourself (1 minute) run for 50 seconds while pulling forward on the resistance band. In the last 10 seconds sprint as fast as you can running on the balls of your feet to propel you forward. Switch up to complete three 1 minutes sets each.
Squats + Lunges
Suffer from joint and back pain? If you need a workout that targets the lower half of your body with little bodily stress you have to add in squats and lunges. There is a difference; lunges mimic basic walking or running patterns so lunges are perfect for runners looking to improve performance. Lunges can help “even out” the muscular imbalances in your legs (i.e. strengthening the weaker side) and help you become stronger when performing other workouts like squats.
Squats also mimic an everyday movement; sitting down and getting up. Squats build leg strength and muscles while slight modifications to the movement or stance can work out hamstrings and quads. Try having a wider stance, this will put more emphasis on inner thigh muscles and abductors. Front squats target your core muscles because you have to engage your core for stability. Want a great backside? Squats target the butt muscles helping shape and form. Try the popular 30 day squat challenge to reach leg and butt goals.
Jogging/Running doesn’t have to be long distances. Jogging can be performed to bring down heart rate slowly and Running sprints can elevate heart rate in a HIIT workout. It’s easy to perform this exercise by running back and forth in a hallway, around a room, and of course outside. No equipment needed.