Home Gym Basics

December Streak Week 2

Week two. Whew. And still at the December fitness challenge. (Every day this month, at least ten minutes of exercise. Read more here.) As the days get shorter, I admit that it keeps getting harder to motivate myself. If it wasn’t for this challenge, I would’ve skipped some days this week. But I’m still at it. 

Last week, I listed some of my favorite apps and other resources for a quick in-home workout. If you’re pressed for time, or joining a gym isn’t in your budget, you can get a great workout without even walking out the front door. After my first child was born, I wasn’t using the gym enough to justify the expense, but I wanted to get back into shape, so I used these apps frequently. 

The great thing about working out at home is that you really don’t need any equipment. But with fairly minimal expense, you can start to build a home gym. Here are some of my go-to pieces. 

Dumbbells: The workhorse of the home gym, you can use these for just about anything. Get a two or three pairs in a variety of weights. You’ll want a pair that is fairly easy for you. Use this one for a little extra resistance to complement cardio exercise, or just on days you’re not feeling anything heavier. The heaviest pair should be challenging, but not so much you lose your form. 

Step: Perhaps I missed my decade, and I should do more old school Jane Fonda workouts, but a step workout is one of my favorites for mixing things up. Look up Jennie Ford on YouTube. She doesn’t have a ton of videos, but enough to keep things interesting. You also can use the step for sit-ups on an incline, a makeshift weight bench, and calf raises. (For that matter, a telephone book works for calf raises, if anyone has one anymore. Again, I’m old school.)

Medicine ball: You know I am about variety. I don’t use the medicine ball too much, but it gives a different feel than the resistance you get with dumbbells. I like to use it for the abs, for sit-ups and twists. (A balance ball also is great for abs. To be honest, though, I’ve always found the balance ball a bit cumbersome. I am open to suggestions how to use it more often.)

Resistance band: With a doorway and and a resistance band, you can do pull-downs that resemble what you can do on a machine at the gym. And remember those calf raises on the step? Add some resistance with the band. 

Bluetooth speaker: I listen to lots of music and podcasts when I exercise, so a small speaker helps pep things up a little. 

Small children: My kids are always interested in what I’m doing when I exercise at home. Even a preschool-aged kid can run and jump with mama (or dad) in the basement, living room, or wherever you work out. And the little one gets a kick out of being my “weight,” held (securely, of course) in front of me for squats. I don’t recommend acquiring a kid just for an exercise companion or a rather squirmy weight. But if you happen to have one or more of them handy, by all means get them involved in your healthy lifestyle. 

Last week’s post includes some apps and sites that give you options to use whatever equipment you have. Next week, we’ll head outside for encouragement to venture out in the cold for winter running. 

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