Friday, April 11, 2014

Fitness Friday: At Home Exercise Essentials

For the longest time, I have been unable to get to the gym. I either couldn't afford one, or there wasn't one close to me and let's be honest - if it's not within walking distance, I'm not going to go.
So I've amassed quite the arsenal of at-home exercise gear. Today I'm going to share with you my absolute essentials. Just because you can't get to a gym or workout class doesn't mean you can't effectively work those muscles at home.

at home exercise essentials

1. Foam Roller
This is absolutely essential for anyone who works out. It's basically a cylinder made of hard foam (there are different levels of hardness, as well as different sizes out there), and you roll on it to help release knots and sore muscles. I roll on my foam roller every single day because it feels just so damn good. 

2. Door Pull Up Bar
J bought one of these on ebay a few years ago, and I love it. It's so easy to quickly bust out a few pull ups and chin ups. The fact that it attaches to a door and is held up with tension means you don't need anything special or a lot of space to have one. 

3. Swiss ball
You can do so much with this bouncy ball of goodness. Using a swiss ball requires you to maintain balance, so your core will work pretty hard, even if you're not doing a core-specific exercise on it. For instance, use it to prop your feet up and do push ups. I love using mine to kneel on and try to hold my balance. 

4. Massage Ball
This spikey ball of torture is incredible at really getting into those knotted up areas. I love this for releasing tension I hold in my shoulders. This is a lot smaller than the foam roller so it can really concentrate on specific areas. This is one of those "hurts so good" pains. I also really like it for sitting on when you get that intense burn from too many squats. 

5. Dumbbells
These are awesome because they take up practically no space. We have two 3.5kg ones and I love them for conditioning exercises for my shoulders and arms. You can do so many different exercises with these, that target almost every part of your body. Get a couple in different weights and you've practically got your own at-home gym. 

6. Resistance Band
These come in a couple of different tensions, usually noted by what colour the band is. Basically they're a really tight bit of elastic. I bought one from Rebel that came with a door jam, so I can use it for more exercises than just lunges. I also use it wrapped around my pole or clothes line to do rowing exercises. Again, this little bit of rubber can be used for so many different exercises that target so many different parts of your body. 

7. Yoga Block
I bought two yoga blocks for a couple of dollars on ebay - these are literally just blocks of foam so you really don't need to fork out a lot of money for them. If you're new to yoga or stretching it can be really helpful to use a block as an aid. Some purists are really against using aids, but I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with using them if you need it. You're much better off using an aid and getting the full benefit of a pose, than not being able to do the pose properly at all. 

8. Skipping Rope
I love my skipping rope for quickly fitting in some cardio for a warm up. If you can't get to the gym to run on the treadmill, and you don't like running in the streets, a skipping rope could be your answer! There's also something fun about revisiting something you used to love as a child. Skipping really requires nothing before you begin so it's a great exercise to do regardless of your current fitness level. 

9. Yoga Mat
I love my mat for stretching on. Carpet is slippery, and my house is full of it, so I find the sticky-ness of a yoga mat really helps me hold stretches longer. I don't have room at my place for a designated 'exercise area', so rolling out my yoga mat really helps me to get into the exercise frame of mind as well. Yoga mats are not absolutely essential, so if you feel you're doing fine without one you don't need to rush out and buy one. I just find that it helps increase my level of comfort when stretching. 

What essentials do you use when working out at home? 

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