If you are serious about losing weight and maintaining a healthy body, a home gym is your first essential tool. Inspiration and motivation are the biggest factors in continuing a workout regime. Cold weather, traffic, end-of-day fatigue and busy schedules can all sabotage the best intentions. But having the tools available on hand lets you fit in short workouts and toning exercises whenever you have time, without leaving your home.
Here are the first eight things your home gym needs.
Stability Ball – The huge, anti-burst, inflatable balls have been trendy hits on the health scene since they appeared. Between $10 and $20 at almost any basic store gets you a simple stability ball. Check the package for height recommendations to get the right diameter for your body.
The stability ball is used as an uneven surface to force your body to work often overlooked muscles during routine exercises. Sitting on the ball with your feet flat on the floor forces your abs and glutes to tighten to maintain your balance. Use the stability ball as a chair at your home desk or while watching TV to get in sneaky little workouts you’ll only notice on the scales.
Resistance Band – Commonly used in Pilates, resistance bands are like colorful rubber bands. They serve to tone your body by forcing your muscles to work harder to perform the exercises without adding the bulk that larger weights can.
Bender Ball – A tiny version of the stability ball, the Bender Ball is a new weight loss trend for ab and legs exercises. The small green ball supports your back for crunches, making them less stressful and more effective. The company offers an entire line of DVDs with exercises based around the Bender Ball making it one of the most effective additions to your home gym for under $20.
Yoga Mat – The yoga mat serves two purposes. One, it gives you a slip-free surface to go on any floor, hard or carpeted, for a more effective and safe workout. Two, it comes in bright, fancy colors to keep you inspired about your workout. Pretty is fun.
Hand-held Weights – You can skip these and used bottles of water instead for lighter resistance. Hold the small bar weights as you do cardio, like stepping, or for simple arm and back toning exercises.
Whether its bellydancing, strip aerobics, hip hop cardio, power yoga or beginner Pilates, DVDs are some of the best motivators in an at-home gym. A good selection keeps you from getting burned out on one routine and lets you learn something new, too. Remember, your body learns movements, so to get the most of your workout switch up your activity regularly.
Whether you choose an elliptical trainer, treadmill, or a Stairmaster, your home gym needs at least one cardio machine that you enjoy using on a regular basis. The cardio machine is a think-free workout – just get on it and go. It is perfect for those early morning sessions when you don’t want to concentrate on reps and changing exercises. Unlike with video based workouts, the cardio machine allows you to watch television and channel surf. Having a cardio machine in your home allows you the freedom to add 10 or 20 minute bursts throughout your day. Got a few minutes to watch the news? Get off the coach and do an easy mile on the treadmill. The more you move throughout your day, the more calories you burn. Cardio machines are excellent for inspiring a more mobile lifestyle, especially if you live in the city or during cold winter months. A quality cardio machine starts in the $200 range and goes up based on brand name and the amount of bells and whistles. Most have to be assembled at home, so consider hiring a private contractor to put your together.
Nothing aids weight loss more than good old fashioned water. It helps your joints, keeps your muscles fluid (no pun) and keeps your body hydrated. Not being properly hydrated leads to cramps after the workout. Keep a pitcher with a water filter or a faucet filter in your home to stay stocked on filtered, clean water. Remember, cold water requires your body to heat it up which ups your metabolism and burns more calories. On the other hand, room temperature water can be absorbed much quicker for faster hydration.