Working out at home is important for many people who want to incorporate fitness into their lives without getting a gym membership. Especially during the pandemic that has closed gyms and fitness studios. That's why I felt it was important to share some home gym essentials so you can easily set up and define your home gym area. Getting fit doesn't have to happen in a gym. You absolutely can get fit and strong at home (or on the road) with these simple tips and tools.
Finding time to workout isn't easy for most people and the cost of belonging to a gym can seem prohibitive. Maybe you don't like working out in a gym because you are embarassed or uncomfortable doing so in front of other people. Having a space in your own home that is flexible & convenient makes it easy for virtually anyone to get a workout in without stress. The more convenient and simple you can make working out, the better chance that fitness will become a consistent habit in your life.
The key to success is always CONSISTENCY.
For any workout routine to be successful and provide you with significant results it means doing a combination of healthy eating everyday and engaging in physical activity (where you get good and sweaty) at least three times a week for 30 - 40 minutes per session. You know what they say, abs are created in the gym and revealed in the kitchen!
So what should your workouts be comprised of? Well, experts recommend a combination of cardio & strength training workouts every week so you can build lean muscle, boost your metabolism and tone your body as you lose weight. I know a lot of people rely primarily on cardio for their workouts but it's strength training that truly makes a difference in your body long term. Building muscle increases your metabolic rate - so you burn more calories - and helps facilitate fat loss.
So based on that, here are the essentials for creating a great workout space in your home:
A home workout space doesn't have to be a whole room, it just needs to have some flex space where you can shift furniture to create a zone that allows you the space to work out effectively. You can use some of the furniture IN the room as a prop to workout with (like doing tricep dips from your ottoman or sofa). I recommend at least a 7' x 7' space where you can lay a yoga mat down easily and manage more active exercises (especially if you are working out to a video).
Organize that space so that you have a spot to store your equipment safely so that you don't need to pull it out of the closet everytime you want to work out. Trust me, the more work you have to do to get organized for your workouts, the more reasons you will find NOT to workout. So make it easy on yourself and keep it all in one location. If its a large open room, consider getting free weight stands (see below) and decorative bins or baskets that will allow you to store your equipment in the room but maybe not in plain sight.
Psychologically, when you create a space to workout in the more inclined you will be to use it!
A Fitness Program you Can Follow
Have you ever started to workout and quit because you didn't know what you were doing? It's an easy trap to fall into when you start working out from home. It doesn't have to be hard though and with a few resources you can put together a plan easily.
Knowing WHAT to do is just as important as the equipment you have or the space you workout in so creating a fitness plan or program is essential to helping you reach your goals. If you are looking for 1:1 help, there are fitness trainers who will come to you to help you set up a personalized program if you have specific fitness goals. The most affordable and convenient online workout resource right now is Beachbody on Demand with hundreds of workouts available for you to stream anytime. Choose from HIIT cardio, strength training, yoga, core ... and more. If you want free fitness resources, try Youtube videos and printables that you can get off Pinterest to get you started.
Regardless of whether you are just starting out, its always a good plan to incorporate strength training into your workouts. Starting out, I recommend doing body weights and doing a lot of the exercises with verylight weights (3lbs or 5 lbs) so you can start to strengthen your body slowly and safely. For the weights themselves, many people still stick with the traditional hand weights however I happen to love kettlebells for a number of key reasons. First of all, they are easier to grip and they work my core body much better than a traditional bulky weight. They are versatile, portable and highly effective for any type of workout.
They are good for simple strength training exercises and they also allow you to easily incorporate them into more complex movements that work multiple areas of your body.
Another good option is to add a set of handsfree weighted gloves to your equipment. These are great for upper body sculpting and can be incorporated into kickboxing, running, upper body exercises and more.
As you make progress and get more fit, you can add free weights into squats, lunges, planks and more. If you find the exercise is too easy with the weight - congratulations - it's time to increase that weight so you keep seeing results!
Resistance bands are an inexpensive staple for any home gym! Resistance bands help you isolate and work specific muscles in your body so you can tone & tighten your physique. They increase the intensity of your workout and help you continue to see progress as you get fitter and stronger. I recommend getting a set of three bands (light, medium and heavy resistance) so that you can use them for a variety of exercises.
The other great benefit of resistance bands is they allow you to do strength training without having to have hand weights. So you can still get a full body workout with all the benefits with these simple bands. Plus they are simple to store, easy to travel with & don't take up a lot of space!
If you do workouts with Beachbody, Insanity, P90x, Crossfit, Yoga etc. then you can incorporate these bands easily into those workouts. The bands are also excellent for stretching and rehabillitation after an injury as they allow you to easily & safely stretch out all areas of your body.
Maybe you've never tried Yoga (but I hope you will), a yoga mat is essential for a home gym. It provides a textured surface that will give you stability for your body as you workout and ensures you don't slip. The padded mat provides comfort as you move through the different floor exercises, giving you both comfort and support.
Yoga itself is a deceptively simple workout that stretches your body, working all areas of your body while improving your balance, strength & stability. By doing at least one yoga workout a week, you will help maximize the effectiveness of your other workouts because your muscles will be looser and your body more limber.
My yoga instructor often describes the yoga mat as a safe place which provides an escape from everyday stresses & worries. To me, the yoga mat is both a tool and a safe place that gives me the flexibility to workout wherever I need to - whether its at home or on when I travel. There are simple bags you can get to carry your mat or you can use a yoga belt to tie it up and carry it on the go.
Jumping rope is one of the best ways to get a great cardio workout! It increases your heart rate swiftly and works key parts of your body including your arms, legs & core. You can easily create a customized HIIT workout with a skipping rope that will have your body working hard and buring calories in a very short amount of time. Plus they are inexpensive and easy to store.
If you can't use this inside, try in your garage or outside (depending on the weather). I have clients who take equipment like this and the bands (see above) to the park where they can workout easily without worrying about damaging their home.
The bonus for skipping ropes? Super small and easy to store and to travel with!
Foam Rollers & Stability Balls
While this is not a piece of exercise equipment per se, stretching IS necesary for stretching and recovery after your workouts. We keep a variety of foam rollers in our house from a long one to mini rollers that help target specific areas or muscles.
There are also certain foam rollers that serve as both a foam roller AND a mobility tool. These help you perform exercises like push ups (you will need 2 of them) to challenge you a bit more. If you are new to foam stretching, then be sure to grab the Foam Stretching Guide for Beginners so you can get started today.
For a stability ball, there are the standard ones that you can get OR if space is at a premium, consider getting a Bosu instead. A Bosu looks like the top of a stability ball on top of a hard platform. We use these often for pushups, burpees, lunges & squats. They are great for helping you engage your core and push you to maximize your workouts.
I hope that this gives you all the information you need to create a functional - and appealing - workout space in your home. Whether a separate space with all the bells & whistles or a streamlined set up for a small home or combined living space - you have a ton of options that will allow you to workout effectively.