Updated: Mar 3
During the coronavirus pandemic, gyms shut down, and everyone was scrambling for ways to stay fit at home. Home exercise has always been important, but these times have seen the rise of home gyms and home workout videos like never before. But where does one start, particularly if you don’t have a large budget for a treadmill, or space for a universal strength training machine? Here are my top 5 items for building out your home gym on a low budget.
1. Yoga Mat
First is a yoga mat. Whether you’re stretching or doing abdominal exercises you are going to be on the floor. This should be a comfortable experience so a yoga mat should be a major consideration. If you have carpeted floors, you might not feel the need for this.
2. Stability Ball or Adjustable Bench
Sometimes exercises may require you to sit (bicep curl, shoulder press) or lay down face up (chest press). Home furniture is probably not the best in these circumstances. An adjustable bench is most ideal because it’s the most sturdy and can allow for laying down or sitting. People with lower back or knee problems really need to be supported in this way. The stability ball is really cool because it can serve not only as a seat or laying surface, it can be used for a variety of core stability exercises. Either way, for more functionality in your home exercise space use the ball or the bench.
3. Resistance bands
There are two types of bands: bands with loops, and bands with handles. Loops: If you’re at home sitting a lot, your glutes can become weaker, and this may lead to back problems. Loop resistance bands are a great way to train the glutes and overall leg muscles. They are super easy to store and are great for people who have trouble strength training their lower bodies. Handles: These tools are better for training the upper body (chest, back, arms, and abs). Most come with a small booklet of sample exercises you can try. It might be handy to have both types of bands in your home arsenal. Both usually come with a storage bag.
Now we’re getting into some real strength training. I like the kettlebell because of it’s versatility and easy storage capability. Almost anything you can do with a dumbbell can be done with a kettlebell. Furthermore, just about every bodyweight exercise can be made slightly more challenging with this tool. Try doing reverse lunges holding one kettlebell. Not only will you work the leg muscles, your core is challenged by holding the bell in one hand. You can follow that up with kettlebell swings and Russian twists. Could you use a dumbbell? Sure. But the shape and design of the kettlebell makes it easier to grip while performing the exercises I just described. One or two kettlebells don’t require a storage unit, but please keep them away from your children.
Finally, I would recommend a slam ball. Depending on your floors, you may only be able to slam this outside. But it is so satisfying! Most clients tell me slamming the ball is a great stress reliever, not to mention the tremendous cardio and core benefits of the exercise. These balls are great for working with a partner since you can pass it to one another! It’s the one tool on this list that can make exercise fun. Be sure to get the ball that has a soft outer shell, so it doesn't bounce up with the same force you applied when throwing it down. If you can’t slam indoors, you can still work your legs and abs while holding the slam ball. Versatility gives you options.