Muggy Monday
Ain't No Disco

Working Out . . . At Home

A few years ago, we had a leaky shower in our master bathroom . . . which turned into an entire bedroom/bathroom renovation (in a total give-a-mouse-a-cookie situation).  One thing we did during the re-do . . . was remove our never-used jacuzzi bathtub and convert it to a little fitness (and meditation!) corner.

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It's perfect.  A small area that works perfectly for at-home workouts.

Tom and I are both regular (like . . . pretty much daily) go-to-the-gym people.  But every once in a while, we can't get to the gym and need to do a workout at home.  Or we need to augment our gym workouts with more stretching.  Or something like that.

I thought my little fitness corner would be a good way to show you how you can add variety to your strength workouts with just a few pieces of equipment . . . that all fit into that little basket you can see in the right in the picture above.

Here's a closer look at some of my favorite pieces of equipment -- things that I use regularly in my fitness corner (although you'll have to excuse JoJo; she insisted on being a part of this. . . ):

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  • A yoga mat.  For me, a yoga mat is a must; a great foundation for your workout.  It cushions your joints and keeps you from slipping and sliding.  (I do my home workouts in bare feet.)  I usually leave my mat rolled out - because I have the dedicated space, but a yoga mat rolls up easily and doesn't take up much space at all.  Yoga mats are not pricey, and they're readily available at stores everywhere - like Target or even Barnes & Noble.  You can also find them online in a variety of price ranges.  Some of them are stupid-fancy, but you really just need a basic mat.
  • Yoga Jellies.  If you look at the top right hand corner of my fitness corner photos, you can see a black blob.  That black blob is actually a pair of Yoga Jellies -- one of the best inventions for yoga and other strength exercises EVER! I have rheumatoid arthritis, and one of my wrists is in really bad shape.  I use the Yoga Jellies under my hands for weight-bearing poses (especially planks and down dogs and even push-ups) to make them more comfortable - and do-able - for my wrists.  You can also use them under your knees or elbows.  If you have joint pain when exercising, these Yoga Jellies might help. 
  • Bender Ball.  The Bender Ball is that bright green ball in my photo.  It's something I love to hate . . . y'know?  One of my former Pilates instructors swore by the Bender Ball, and we used it in all kinds of different core strength exercises.  It's soft and squishy . . . and helps you REALLY get to your ab muscles.  It's not very big - but is a powerful fitness tool.  I've seen them locally at Bed, Bath & Beyond -- but you can also order one through Amazon ($12.99).  Then . . . you can Google "Bender Ball Workouts" and knock yourself out!  (If you click on the link, you'll go the Amazon offering.)
  • Resistance Band.  If I only had one piece of fitness equipment to use at home, it would be a resistance band!  Talk about a versatile piece of equipment.  If you're working on strength training at home -- and you don't have room for free weights -- a resistance band can take the place of the weights.  You can work all your major muscle groups with a resistance band (arms, shoulders, legs, triceps, biceps, chest); you can do squats and lunges and overhead presses and more  (really -- all your favorites!) with a resistance band.  You can pack one in your suitcase when you travel.  They take very little space to store at home.   A quick Google search will give you many, many options of exercises you can do with a resistance band.  (If you click on the link, you'll go to the set I purchased from Amazon.)  Here's an article on the differences between using resistance bands or free weights in strength training.
  • Free weights.  We don't have many free weights at home (because we use the weights at the gym), but we have a few.  (And Tom has a couple of kettlebells at home.  But not many.)  It's nice to have some free weights at home, but the downside?  They're heavy and take up a fair amount of space to store.  For my workouts, I need several different weights -- because one weight won't work for all the different muscle groups I'm working.  Plus, as we talked about last week, we need to continually challenge ourselves -- which means increasing weights.  It's hard to have an appropriate selection  of free weights in a limited amount of space.  (Free weights are readily available at sporting goods stores and stores like Target.  They are surprisingly inexpensive.)
  • Yoga strap.  Yoga straps are really great for stretching -- both before and after your workouts.  (We haven't talked much about stretching and flexibility yet, but we will.)  When I was working with a trainer last year, she taught be several stretches to do with a yoga strap -- and when I do them regularly (admittedly, that's one of the things I need to be more faithful about doing. . . ), it makes a huge difference in my post-workout recovery.  (Yoga straps are readily available wherever yoga mats are sold, or you can purchase them online.)  Here's a link with stretching exercises you can do with a yoga strap.

For me, these basic pieces of equipment don't take up much space, are relatively inexpensive to buy and readily available, and are - best of all - are easy to adapt and use for a variety of exercises at all fitness levels.

What do you think?  And if you have a home fitness space, what other equipment would you recommend?

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