by Danielle Dunn, Fitness Director, Hilton Head Health
The benefit of having a home gym is that a home gym fits in your schedule. Sometimes new appointments show up, meetings go long, kids need to be taken here and there, and getting yourself to the gym seems impossible. But when you have fitness equipment at home, you can save time, money spent on memberships you don’t use, have privacy within your own home, and customize your own workout. Check out these seven top fitness products which are great for starting an at-home gym of your own!
Resistance Band ($5-$15): This is such a great and simple tool to use. A band can be used for a full-body resistance training workout. From upper body to lower body to core, bands challenge the muscles to not only contract but also lengthen in the negative part of the movement (for instance the eccentric, or down, movement of a bicep curl). Each color band represents a different resistance. Starting with the least to heaviest resistance the colors go: yellow, green, red, blue, purple, and black. This is also a wonderful tool to use while traveling as well. Weighs almost nothing and can be folded up to fit in any small space of your suitcase.
TRX-Suspension Trainer ($125-$185): Similar to a resistance band, however allows for more range of motion and a better use of supported body weight. A TRX strap can be used for a full body weight training workout. The TRX leverages gravity and your body weight, providing greater performance and functionality over using large exercise machines (which costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars). You’re in control of how much you want to challenge yourself because you can simply adjust your body position to add or decrease resistance. Also the TRX is great for traveling because of its foldable and light qualities.
Mat ($10-$25): A mat is a very simple product that can be used for many exercises. A mat provides support for your knees, hands, and back when doing floor exercises and also assists you doing Pilates and Yoga at home as well. Consider the thickness of your mat; a mat that’s too thick can make you unstable, but one too thin can leave you sore post-workout.
Fitball ($8-$10) and Dumbbells (Varies based on weight): A fitball is a favorite because the ball can be used to facilitate resistance training by acting as a bench or chair. Seated on the ball you can use dumbbells on your arms or lying down on the ball you use it to execute a bench press or chest fly with dumbbells. Additionally, the ball is perfect for abdominal and lower back strengthening exercises. Fitballs have different sizes (55, 65, 75mm), therefore the taller you are the bigger the ball you will want to get. The traditional size is a 65mm for anyone between 5’4” and 6’.
Balance Disc ($12-$18): An awesome tool to not only practice balance on, but also a wonderful way to strengthen your ankle muscles. Balancing one foot on each or both feet on the same disc, this creates air displacement and an unstable platform for your feet. The unstable platform strengthens the ankles and improves balance and flexibility. Incorporate this into your weight training, by standing on top and adding bicep curls, shoulder presses, or tricep kickbacks—getting an upper body and balance workout in one!
Foam Roller ($15-$50): Exercise can leave our body feeling sore and tight. Having a foam roller at home can help reduce soreness and release some muscle tension. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release which is used to inhibit overactive muscles. Using the foam roller is a form of stretching that improves soft tissue extensibility by relaxing the muscle and allowing activation of the antagonist muscle. Foam rolling can sometimes be uncomfortable, but releasing this tension 1-2 times per week will make the rolling more and more comfortable and improve full range of motion for the whole body.
Yoga Strap ($10-$15): Using a yoga strap is a great way to help assist and progress stretching. Using a strap delivers the benefits of assisted stretching with a partner. Having multiple loops permit deep, gradual stretching of major muscle groups with a greater safety, control, and effectiveness than is possible unaided. The strap is a simple tool that also can be brought with you while traveling. Stretching our muscles help to improve range of motion and improve the body’s elasticity. We want to not only be strong, but functional and mobile as well and using a strap like this can assist in making stretching less forced and improve flexibility.