As a personal trainer I have learned that working out in a gym is not for everyone. At least not at every stage of their life or health and fitness journey. I do believe that working out in a gym has a lot of benefits. It’s good for all of us to put ourselves out there and experience new and not so comfortable things. Plus the right gym comes with good trainers and staff who really care about helping you make progress. But there are plenty of reasons why working out at home sometimes, or even all of the time, makes more sense for some people. I’m a firm believer in doing what works for you.
You don’t have to have an entire home gym to workout at home. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and feel like you need to be doing the same thing. But this isn’t about fitness trends or fads, it’s about your health. Really, for most people just trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, a lot of the equipment in a gym is completely unnecessary. You can do the same things at home with little or even no equipment if you needed to.
You don’t need much for a good workout at home
A good fat burning, heart pumping, functional strength, balance, and flexibility building workout requires very little equipment. Cardio doesn’t require any equipment at all and you don’t even have to go outside. You can do some killer cardio in a space that’s only big enough for you to twirl around in. Strength training is super important for our bone density, weight loss and maintenance, and metabolism. But you don’t have to have a gym full of weights to improve your strength. Body weight exercises are a great place to start. Beyond that, a good set of resistance bands and adjustable dumbbells can be used to do pretty much any exercise. A stability ball will add the element you need to improve balance and ta-da. You have a home “gym.”
Can you use more? Of course! It’s always fun to have options, especially as your fitness level increases. But you’ll find that most of the exercises you’ll be doing, even if they are demonstrated with other equipment, can be modified to be done with the equipment I mentioned above. For beginners, it’s best not to complicate things with all sorts of equipment at first. Learn the basics and move on from that if you want to. You might find that these basic items are your favorite. They are my favorite and even when I go to the gym I rarely use anything else.
Equipment I use for a killer workout at home
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I grouped these two together because I found a great set a while back that I use all the time now. When it comes to exercise equipment, I’ve learned that more expensive doesn’t always mean better quality. I love this set and it’s a great price. It even comes with extras.
The resistance band loops are great for leg and butt exercises. You’ll find a lot of band loops out there but I prefer these latex bands because I can clean and sanitize them so easily. That’s important to me because I take these from home to the gym and back and the gym has lots of germs. The stackable exercise bands are great for upper body work. They allow you to work with various different levels of resistance as you get stronger. The ankle straps allow the use of the bands to become more versatile too. I also love that this set comes with a door anchor that just hangs over any door to allow for overhead pulling exercises.
Jumping rope is excellent cardio! It’s also great for building coordination and improving cognitive function, increased muscle engagement, building agility and quickness, and increasing bone density.
I don’t have these but I wish I would have bought a set instead of buying individual dumbbells. These things are not only a lot more affordable, they are also a major space saver. You can do almost any strength building exercise with dumbbells. They are a must-have. These are the most basic set but if you want to spend more, you can find a lot of different options as far as design and function. They are really cool.
This is the stability ball I use and it’s heavy duty and also pretty cheap. I love that it comes with a little spiky massage ball. I use it for my feet and back. Stability balls offer a ton of benefits when it comes to strength and balance exercises. A lot of core exercises are much more effective with a stability ball as well.
Things you might want but don’t have to buy
Sliders are a fantastic addition to your workouts but you don’t have to buy any, unless you just want to. On carpet you can use paper plates. If you don’t have any, I have actually used sheets of paper before. On hardwood or tile floors you can just wear socks or use a dish towel.
Exercise mats are generally only necessary for padding so you will be conformable during lying or kneeling exercises. They can also help with your bare feet sliding when you’re trying to hold a position. You can use a folded blanket for comfort and you can throw on some sneakers to prevent you from sliding as much. I’m here to tell you, unless you spend a decent amount of money on an exercise mat, it will still be uncomfortable in certain positions and you will still slide when your feet start to sweat. If you don’t want to invest in a mat right now, you just don’t have to.
What it really takes to get fit anywhere
Access to all the equipment in the world is not the solution to get you fit and the lack of that equipment won’t keep you from getting fit. It has nothing to do with equipment. Like I said from the start, you can get fit with zero equipment and don’t let anyone tell you any differently. All you need is the determination to do it. So start with nothing but your body weight at first if that’s what you want to do. When you feel like you want to try something new or want to challenge yourself more, grab these accessories I listed above. Just know that no matter what your workouts look like, as long as it works for you that’s all that matters.
Do you have any at-home workout staples? I would love to hear about them in the comments.