Hello all! The reality is that most people who decide they want to start training are nervous about the process. You don't know what the environment of a gym will be like. The usual gymtimidation thoughts arise. "Will people stare at me?" "What if I drop the weight?" "WHAT IF I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING?!"
These lingering thoughts combined with the 1 year anniversary of lockdown, can be overwhelming to say the least! As we begin to process an end to lockdown in the (hopefully) near future, you may be debating starting or getting back into a workout routine. So why not start now? While you may or may not feel comfortable working out in a public gym, it’s so easy to create a mini gym setup at home. It requires a small amount of space and minimal equipment to have a great home workout. I’ll be leaving my tips and tricks to buying and setting up your workout space. I’ll also include links to items! If you have a local supplier, definitely try them first, but these are good options!
1) Yoga Mat
For me a yoga mat is key to creating a workout “space.” While you may not be interested in weight training, a yoga mat gives you a safe space to practice yoga, pilates or any other workout style you may want to try. While you can always workout without one, for me, establishing a designated spot to train, keeps me motivated! It also creates a slip-free zone for training.
Yoga mats comes in a variety of styles, but I’ll link my favorite 3 down below:
¼” Yoga Mat. Most affordable option: $15.31
1” Yoga Mat. Perfect for a comfy yoga session or ab workouts: $30.51
Large Mat for general exercise. Currently on sale: $84
2) Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are HIGHLY underrated, but you can actually get a full workout with only bands. There are a lot of different styles of resistance bands and I’ll provide options of each below. Resistance bands are a great addition to those traditional bodyweight exercises or to use in place of dumbbells or to replicate cable machine exercises. It’s amazing how versatile they are and they come in a variety of strengths from light to extra heavy to fit your individual strength needs.
Resistance bands also make incredible muscle activation tools. I use them prior to all my weight training sessions to activate my muscles and get the best workout possible!
Standard resistance bands: $9.99
Extra Long Resistance Bands. Also great for pull-up assistance: $10.99
3) Booty Bands
Now a great alternative or addition to the standard resistance band, is a booty band. They are also known as resistance loops or hip bands. These bands are made from a thicker material than a standard band and prevent the roll up/down of a standard band. While they are really best for a lower body workout, and not as versatile as the resistance band, they are very effective for the lower body!
3-pack of Bands: $17.95
For those new to training, you can definitely get by without weights for a while. Even for those who are not new, resistance bands can provide you with enough resistance to still get a good session in, but if you want a more challenging workout, or are focusing on strength, dumbbells are just what you need.
Now choosing the right weight for you is the hardest part. For those new to training a 2 or 5lb set can add some difficulty to your training while you perfect form and build some strength. For those who are more experienced, go with what you think will work best. If you can only get one set, think about how much will really benefit your overall training. I have gotten by nicely with the use of 2 sets. One for the weight I need to train arms and one with a good weight for training legs. Dumbbells are also sold second hand at thrift stores, so check out your local spots to find some good deals on them.
The cheapest I have found are on walmart.com and come in 5-50lb pairs:
For less than 5lbs, TJMaxx, Ross, Walmart, Target and Marshalls are great options and run only a few dollars each
Now a mirror is not a necessity, but can be a very helpful tool for training. Especially those who are new to training, you may not know how to properly engage those muscles and may have some bad posture habits. Having a full length mirror gives you the ability to check your form when you don’t have a friend or coach to do it for you. They are quite inexpensive and can be propped against your wall or I used 2 double-sided command strips to adhere them to my walls! If this isn’t the best option for you, you can use your phone to record your workouts and check your form that way.
Full Length Mirror: $6.44 at Walmart.com
6) Screen/Room Divider
Something that is completely unnecessary but may be beneficial to you, is a room divider. My workout space is actually in the living room, and to create a proper exercise space for working with clients, I wanted to divide the room. If you want more privacy at home while you train, this is for you! My 2 favorite options are a folding screen or a ceiling track. I installed a ceiling track in a few hours and love it. The sliding ceiling track has hooks that I’ve attached a curtain to, and I can open and close the curtain as needed. It takes up less space than a folding screen and can be installed for cheaper than a screen too. The downside is you do have to screw it into your ceiling, which may not be an option for you. In that case, a folding screen will do the trick!
Folding Screen: (On Sale) $69.99
Sliding Ceiling Track (You will still have to get a curtain to fit your dimensions) $13.75-$19.85
Hooks for ceiling track (To attach curtain to the track) $9.99
Now kettlebells are fantastic additions to a home gym. While you can easily get by with some dumbbells or maybe a barbell, kettlebells are great for taking your exercises up a notch. Kettlebells distribute weight away from the center of the weight, and therefore improve your overall stability. Personally I like having a few kettlebells to mix into my training for added difficulty. Again, these are just a helpful addition if you decide you want to expand. Kettlebells can be quite expensive, so finding them at a thrift store is another great option.
$27.99 - $70.99
8) Medicine Ball/Slam Ball
Maybe you aren’t the biggest fan of weight training. Maybe cardio isn’t your forte. If you like more body weight training or hiit (high intensity interval training), a medicine or slam ball, could be a good option! You can get quite the workout from hiit exercises, like jumping jacks and squat jumps, but adding in the use of a medicine ball can really up the difficulty level. Also, if you’re training outside your home, maybe a tennis court or basketball court, you can get by with only needing a weighted ball. These are also helpful for training in pairs or groups, as you can pass the ball back-and-forth during drills.
The con of a medicine ball is that it’s not the best in-home training tool. If you aren’t on the first floor, have neighbors nearby or have to train quietly, working with medicine or slam balls is not your best option. They can be quite loud!
Slam Ball: $31.49
Medicine Ball: $29.49 - $46.99
9) Cardio Machine or Speed Rope/Jump Rope
Not everyone wants to weight train or use bands. A healthy lifestyle is all about finding what works for you and what you enjoy! So maybe you love cardio! You can always go running outside for free, but maybe you’d rather train inside. 2 great options are getting a stationary bike or elliptical machine. You can actually get a stationary bike for under $120 and an elliptical for under $100. Both fold up to take up less space and be tucked away in a closet or corner. Thrift stores are often a great place to find this kind of equipment. While it may not be as new of a model and may not fold up, you can often find great options for under $50.
Another great tool for cardio is the speed rope or a jump rope. If you aren’t an avid jump roper already, using a standard jump rope is a good place to start practicing and if you want to make it more complex, a speed rope can take it to the next level. There are a ton of great online workouts for incorporating a jump rope, but you can still get a full training session with just standard jump roping, and it’s one of the most inexpensive things you can purchase for training. They also take up almost no space and can travel with you anywhere, whether you use them inside or take them for outdoor training.
Exercise Bike: (On Sale) $113.19
Elliptical: (On Sale) $86.99
Jump Rope (On Sale) $7.99
10) Foam Roller
RECOVERY IS KEY! On any fitness journey, whether you are new to training or having been doing it for years, you have to take care of that body! Foam rolling is a fantastic post-exercise tool to relax those stressed muscles and allow for better recovery and less muscle tension. Over time the body can compensate for strained and overactive muscles by creating movement impairments. This can lead to pain, injury or issues with muscle engagement. Foam rolling can help those muscles to work their best and set you up for success on your next training session. Next week I’ll dive deeper into the pros and cons of foam rolling and how best to add it into your schedule!
Below is a brand that I love. It comes in multiple sizes and textures for whatever you need. Though a standard works great:
Gaiam $19.98 - $27.89
Whatever your needs may be for a home gym, investing in your health and wellness doesn’t have to be expensive! Even if you have no money to spare, home workouts can be done without spending a dime. There are so many free resources out there, so make use of them!
Until next week… and remember that fitness is for all!