Friday, January 22, 2010

Building An Inexpensive Home Gym

The cool folks at City Sports allowed me to use their 48th St store to show you how to put together a fairly inexpensive home gym! Especially during the winter, when we would often rather plant ourselves on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and a movie than get up an move, an at home 'gym' can provide the needed motivation. If you already have the tools at home, you can fit a workout in whenever you have 10 minutes. Some things you can even do while watching TV (the average commercial break can last up to 4 minutes long, perfect for a quick burst of cardio) or with your kids!

Below are my suggestions for building a home gym without investing large amounts of money in a treadmill or elliptical. The most expensive items in this list are $150. Some are as inexpensive as $4! I've grouped them in categories essential to great to have but not necessary for results. My comments include factors related to uses, price, and amount of storage space required, since those are all factors we all take into consideration when at the store (or online) buying fitness equipment. Of course, some of these items may be more, or less, important to you, depending on what you want to focus on (although I do believe the essential items are essential!).

*all prices are from City Sports and may differ from other retailers. I've posted them here for reference.

Great To Have But Not Necessary for Results

Kettlebells ($34-$100)
+ a great, somewhat newer workout that combats all muscle groups
- difficult to just pick up and go with, due to weight distribution muscle pulls and injuries are possible if you're not careful
- somewhat expensive if you aren't confident you'll use them frequently

Trakstand ($149)
+ great way for bikers to train in doors during the winter
- one of the most expensive items
- pointless if you don't ride a bike

Thera-Rolls ($20-$50)
Awesome looking variation of the foam roller that is meant to release tension in pressure points and work the muscle more thoroughly
+ will dig into sore or tight muscles to relieve tension
- not absolutely necessary in a fitness routing

Good To Have

Tower 200 ($149)
+ attaches to any door
+ two 'handle' attachments to allow for multiple types of strengthening exercises
+ instructional DVD and diagrams
- one of the most expensive items, more of an investment
- may be difficult to set up and store

Wobble Board ($49.00)
+ great for multple core exercises & improves balance
+ somewhat small size, good for storage
+ no set-up required
- somewhat limited number of exercises

Exercise Mats ($29 - $49)
+ great for stretching and some exercises
+ good to have if you're using a hard, uncushioned floor
- can also use a yoga mat
- some versions require a bit of storage space

Grip Strengtheners ($8-$15)
+ very good for building strength in grip and forearms
+ small, easy to store and throw in a bag for work or trips
+ easy to use when watching TV or doing other activities
+ inexpensive
- grip strength may not be something you're focusing on

The Perfect Push-Up ($39.95)
+ I've heard this does wonders to help with form and strengthen muscles
+ small in size and easily storable
- somewhat expensive
- all you really need to do a push-up is a floor

Pull-Up Bar ($20-$40)
+ great to build muscles and master the pull-up in the privacy of your own home
+ most install easily and require little storage space
+ some, like the one pictured, can be used in multiple ways
- not good for people with bad shoulders

Medicine Balls ($30 - $40)
+ multiple weights
+ used to increase strength in core and arms
- if you buy several, they will take up a bit of space
- a bit costly

Adjustable Ankle/Wrist Weights ($20 - $25)
+ great to use hands free
+ interchangeable between ankles and wrists
+ works for multiple exercises and can be used while walking
- some may find them a bit uncomfortable or uneasy to use

Pedometer ($15 - $40)
+ great for keeping track of amount of steps each day, ensuring high level of activity and burning calories
- doesn't work when running
- some are a bit large, which may discourage usage

Bosu Ball ($120)
+ multiple uses that focus on core stability, strength, and balance
+ great to add difficulty to lunges and weight training
- a bit expensive
- requires a good amount of storage space

Top Picks Necessary

Exercise Balls ($30 - $35)
+ best piece of equipment to use when focusing on your core
+ good price
+ there is a base that can be purchased to turn the ball into a chair
- takes up a lot of space

Dumbbells ($1.50 - $45)
+ can be purchased individually or in sets
+ necessary for building arm strength
+ can also be used for some core and leg exercises
- can become expensive
- requires space
- not easy to move around

Resistance Bands ($14)
+ many, many uses (strength, flexibility, stretching)
+ easy to pack and take anywhere
+ inexpensive
+ available in multiple levels of resistance
- none

Jump Rope ($6 - $16)
+ GREAT cardio workout
+ compact and inexpensive
+ fun activity to do with kids!
- requires a bit of coordination, but that comes with practice

Workout DVDs ($10 - $25)
+ provides instruction and motivation (although pre-recorded!)
+ easy to pop into the DVD
+ fairly inexpensive
+ can be done with others
- may get boring after a while
- may require a bit of space or equipment, depending on the workout

Yoga Mat ($29 - $45)
+ great for class, DVDs, stretching, core work and more
+ doesn't require much space
- none

Liz, the store manager who showed me around who is a former college field hockey coach, counts exercise balls and dumbbells in her list of 'must haves.'

You don't need to have all of these items to create a great workout at home, just a few will put you on the right track. You can also use things around your house, like a sturdy chair or piano bench, in your workout. The most important thing is that you enjoy the exercises you're doing and that you do them correctly.

Do you have some of these things already that help you stay in shape?

disclaimer: you should speak with your physician before starting an exercise routine.


Julie said...

Hi Lisa,
What a great post! Thanks for sharing all of those wonderful items that would be nice to have at home. Also, it was nice of you to include the prices. I would love to have the Kettlebells, medicine balls and the exercise ball to help me with the stregthening of my core!

Have a great weekend Lisa!

karen@fitnessjourney said...

Excellent list. I have about half of the things you recommended. My favorite is the Bosu ball-I paid $99 for mine but recently saw them for $67 at Walmart!

Anna said...

I love this list. We have yoga mats, free weights, a stability ball, and a pull up bar, but unfortunately we're in an apartment and our downstairs neighbor likes to bang on her ceiling when we even do laundry too loudly for her taste! Fortunately, I have a membership to a great wellness center included in my tuition for another couple of months!

Jill said...

Hi Lisa, came across your blog via Julie's. Thanks, I love it! Excellent review of items, wow! I need to pick up a few of those to have on days I don't want to get to the gym. I'm pretty good at doing the gym thing but some days I'd rather not. That hand strengthener for biceps would be perfect!! I look forward to sharing your journey. Have a great weekend!

Melody said...

I love my kettlebell! They are definitely something you need to be a little more careful with, because you can probably hurt yourself if you're not. I got one of the Go Fit Kettlebells, and it came with a dvd. It had some instruction on the moves, but not all of them that were in the video! So I had to figure some of it out myself. Luckily I have a decent background in proper form for weightlifting and other excercises, so I'm confident I can do it safely. I wouldn't recommend it as a beginner video though. It has definitely been whipping me into shape, very quickly, though!

SueMac said...

I have some weights and DVD's that I do pretty regularly. To avoid getting bored I change the DVD up every month. So far, that has helped. I, also, have an exercise ball and store it in the corner of my dining room.