With at-home workouts being the hottest fitness trend out there right now, you might be wondering what kind of equipment to have on hand to make the most of your living-room fitness regime.
If money and space are no object, you might invest in a rowing machine, treadmill, elliptical machine, stationary bike, Bosu Balance Trainer, and/or TRX Suspension System. Nice workout if you can get it.
Here are a few suggestions for fitness tools under $50 that are ideal for small spaces and will help take your self-directed sweat to the next level.
These easy-to-use, rubbery bands with handles (sometimes called tubes) come in a range of colours, lengths, and tensions. They’re a great alternative to free weights or dumbbells to strengthen muscles and can be used to work the upper and lower body. With a handle in each hand, stand on top of the band and lift hands up to your shoulders and back down for a biceps curl, for instance; keeping both feet on top of the tube, take big steps from side to side. There are dozens of exercises you can do with these. (Google them.)
If you’ve ever been to a physiotherapist, you may have seen these closed-loop, flat, thin bands that resemble oversize elastic bands. They’re often used for rehabilitation and increasing range of motion. Like resistance bands, they can be used to strengthen various muscles from head to toe. Loop it around both legs a few inches above the knees while doing squats or walking “crablike” forward and backward, for example, or use it for triceps extensions or lat pulldowns. (DIY hack: use an old pair of nylons or tights.)
These come in sets of two, look like flat Frisbees or paper plates, and help engage your muscles through their full range of motion. Here are some ways they add a little oomph to your workout: to make pushups even harder, place each hand on a disc. Gradually slide your hands apart as you lower your chest toward the floor and slide them back in as you lift back up. You can place the ball of each foot on a disc, sliding into side, reverse, or forward lunges. Some discs can be used on carpets. (If you’re in a pinch and have smooth floors, use dish towels.)
Now that you’re working out at home and working from home, these large orbs can do double duty as a desk chair and a fitness tool. When sitting on one, try to keep your balance not by swivelling your hips but rather by engaging your core muscles, keeping your upper body still. The further apart your feet, the more stable you’ll be; once you get used to sitting on one of these, bring your feet closer together, then lift one leg off the floor, then maybe close your eyes. You can sit atop a ball to do all of your usual upper-body strength work, like shoulder presses and straight arm raises; use it for abdominal crunches, oblique abdominal crunches, and pushups (hands on the floor, shins or ankles atop the ball) as well. Target your hamstrings by lying on the floor, resting your calves on the ball, lifting your hips up, and slowly drawing your knees into your chest. Lying on your back with your legs extended up toward the ceiling, squeeze the ball between your ankles or shins while slowly lowering your legs to the floor. (You should never feel any pain in the lower back; that’s a red flag and a signal to stop.) The list goes on.
Mini exercise ball
Not to be confused with a smaller Stott Pilates ball, this can be used to support the neck or lower back during certain exercises. Or you can squeeze it between the knees while doing squats or abdominal crunches, or place it under your feet while lying on your back to lift your hips up off the floor and down again. Anytime you’re working on an unstable surface, you recruit and challenge the core muscles.