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It’s no secret I’m not a huge fan of the gym. If it’s an environment that you are comfortable in, than I would totally recommend embracing it, but that’s not the case for me. If you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ve probably read my post on my preferred method of exercise, which is outdoors, and why I prefer it. If not, here it is. I have some gym issues. I just don’t really want to make the gym a part of my life at this point. Maybe when my kids get older I’ll find a class I love, or I’ll decide I enjoy working with a trainer, or something along those lines, but for now, I’ve totally come to love working out at home. I’ve got a modest collection of equipment that I use, but I don’t get hung up on any one of these. I like to change things up. Getting bored is the kiss of death for an exercise routine. The same goes for healthy eating. Don’t fall into a rut. Keep things fresh. Here are a few pieces of equipment that I like to keep on hand so that I can add them into my routines to make it easier for an at home workout and also keep my workouts more versatile.
Dumbbells are probably the simplest and most versatile at home equipment. I have a range of weights that I use. I started with 5 pounds but I really don’t use those anymore. The range I use now is 8 lbs, 10 pounds and 15 pounds. There are weights that you can adjust by taking plates and sliding or screwing them on and off, or there are sets that have multiple weights to choose from. The choice is yours, depending on your budget. I really prefer those with a coating over the metal, but that’s just me, I don’t like the smell of metal on my hands. Some people wear gloves anyway so this isn’t an issue.
You will want more than one size though because different exercises will be easier than others. You’ll want to push yourself and not use the same weight for each exercise.
If you are on a budget, or like to save money where you can, think about buying these used at a second hand sporting equipment shop or or Craig’s List. There are people who graduate to heavier weights, buy more expensive equipment, or who find themselves unable to or uninterested in continuing to use their equipment that sell them while they’re still in pretty good condition.
2. Yoga Mat
Even if you don’t do yoga, a mat is a great idea for hardwood floors or carpet when you’re attempting exercises like forearm planks. I sported some nasty rug burn on my elbows for a while until I got smart and unrolled my mat when I went elbow first on the carpet.
I recommend a mat for all floor exercises. It offers extra cushion and some stability. Just wear shoes or bare feet. Socks are slippery.
3. Stability ball
A stability ball is amazing for your core. Just sitting on the ball is a muscle workout. Sit on the ball and sit up or do crunches and you’ll feel it the next day! Do push-ups with your feet on the ball! There are a huge variety of things you can do with a stability ball and it adds an element of fun to a workout. This one comes in pink too, FYI.
Kettlebells can burn some real calories! This is not just about the calories burned during the workout, but increased calorie burn afterward. The metabolism increases for a time period after the workout and causes us to keep burning more calories. This is known as afterburn. We need to have an intense workout in order to trigger the hormonal response which will lead to increased fat burning.
Kettlebell swings are a great example of this type of high intensity cardio burst! A set of 50 in between rounds of resistance exercises like push-ups, crunches, and squats would be a good example of mixing some cardio and resistance training.
There really are a lot of options as far as kettlebell exercises go, so there’s no getting bored with these workouts. I bought a set of kettle bells and it started with a 5 pound bell, a 10 pound bell and a 15 pound bell. I would like to have a slightly heavier set. I’m not really using the 5 pound one, though. There’s not much weight there. My two year old picks that one up and tries to run off with it. Really, he’s a tough little dude.
A lot of the exercises are two handed, so think about that when determining how much weight you want to purchase for your bell. 15 pounds may sound heavy for a dumbbell which you’ll lift with one arm, but for a two handed kettlebell swing, will that be enough weight? Give that some thought.
I also like to hold on to a kettlebell (or medicine ball) while I’m doing sit-ups or squats to add some extra weight and get some extra intensity.
5. Fitness Tracker
A smartphone or a fitness tracker can also be a huge help with your workouts. Logging the time, distance and speed of your cardio workout for one thing, there are dozens of apps that are great motivators as well as great for tracking. I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for logging food, but I use a Fit bit Alta for my tracker. The two sync together, so I can use them both. The Alta doesn’t have GPS, but my phone does, so if I have my phone when I run, which of course I do, who doesn’t? The phone will let the tracker know where I am and map the route for me. This is the coolest thing ever. I have an exact time and distance traveled so I know exactly what my pace is and whether or not I’m improving and how I’m improving. I also get little buzzes on my wrist reminding me to get moving throughout the day. It’s not just about exercise, it tracks overall activity.
The nice thing about a lot of these products is that purchasing most of them will come with a lot of sample exercises. My kettlebell set and stability ball both came with a chart showing dozens of exercises and how to do them. I hung them on the wall for inspiration, because of course as soon as I get on the ball I forget everything I wanted to do with it. I need something to stare at and remind me.
A couple of other items I love:
This amazing water bottle and this fun little inspirational book!
I hope this has been helpful. Just a few of my favorite little things that help me.
Let me know what fun stuff you use to workout!