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.


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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I'm not sure I'm ready to expand into equipment but when I am I will be reading this post again. I am intrigued by yoga jellies and a resistance band, though.


Resistance bands work well for me (in addition to John's manly free weights in the barn). I like your dedicated space!


I loved seeing your space. I wish I had the room to keep my mats rolled out (I use 2). The yoga jellies though! Why didn't any of my yoga teachers ever mention them? They are pricey, but I'll bet they are exactly what I need- so much wrist pain with down dog and planks. I use my mat(s), sometimes a cushion, sometimes my yoga strap and free weights. I have a (huge) ball that I sometimes use for push ups, but the Bender Ball looks interesting.

This is such a good series you are doing Kym! Thank you.


My sore knitter arthritic thumbs are going to love those jellies! Thank-you Kym!


I love my Pilates ball and ring. I also have a Bosu ball for working on my balance and core
I need to looks for those yoga jellies - my wrists get sore when I do planks too. I am hoping to pull up the carpet and get wood floor in the room where I have my yoga/Pilates/strength/meditation space


You are motivating me to check out a yoga place. I already belong to a I go regularly. No....I do not. I should. I will!

Your corner is just perfect!


This was an incredibly informative post -- thank you for all the information and links! I'll admit I was a little disappointed, though; I was really hoping that a faithful canine friend was a necessary part of the equipment.


A mat is an absolute must - carpeting just doesn't cut it at all! (And, I love JoJo in the picture! It is like a real home work out then - dog included! LOL)


The yoga jellies sound perfect for my sore hands! I've never heard of them. I use my yoga strap all the time and I see a balance table near the wall. That's a great tool I used often in the gym. I really need to work on balance!


Hm. I have some resistance bands... one, at least.

Re: Free weights. I've seen grocery carts full of them at St. Vincent de Paul.


What is that circle item in your photo and how do you use it?

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