Working out at home can be difficult if you don’t have the proper fitness equipment.
Here are the most versatile, fun, effective and occasionally deadly items in my fitness arsenal:
This basic piece of fitness equipment was the first thing I ever used (in aerobics class in high school). Later, I discovered my clunky old step could be used for so much more than stepping. It’s great for stretching (lunges with your front leg up on the step, calf stretches hanging the ball of the foot off the edge). If you have an incline box, or even an old school adjustable height one (just take off a riser or two from one side), you’ve got a more comfortable angle for leg lifts, planks and bicycle, and more.
Like giant rubber bands, I use the looped resistance bands to add resistance to my inner and outer leg lifts while standing, and you can do the same with straight bands (ones with handles are best!). These bands are the answer for stubborn inner thighs. The long straight bands can also be used to tone arms, shoulders and back, and loop them around your legs for increased range of motion and resistance for leg circles. Best of all, they’re barely there in your suitcase, so they’re a handy tool for staying fit on the road.
This one I wish I could pack in my suitcase. The body bar, or resistance bar, can be used for everything. I use it for lifting because I can easily transition from one thing to the next (mine breaks down into hand weights). Also good for balancing when you’re figuring out a new pose.
A strong core will increase your balance, strength and focus, and the balance ball is a great way to do it. This ball is a staple in most pilates classes and DVD workouts, but the best thing about it: you can exercise your core just by sitting on the thing. It’s a great way to keep your back straight during long days at the desk, rather than letting your office chair engulf you and wreck your posture. A word of caution: you’ll probably roll a few times before you get used to sitting on the ball.
Got a ball? Try Tone It Up’s Plank Rollout and Other Ball Exercises
This is an obvious one with some unobvious uses: In addition to preventing slipping during yoga poses, I fold mine up and use it for padding when I’m kneeling, lying down or leaning with my elbows on the step. It can also be rolled up and used as a pillow, or better yet, a prop for balance when doing leg lifts.
Though jump ropes have changed my life, at first they almost ended my life (I don’t recommend doing them indoors, esp. if where there is a ceiling fan in the room). I have two jump ropes, a leather one with hardy wooden handles and a cloth rope one with plastic handles. The heavier one is easier to build momentum with, but it’s also more deadly—for beginners, I recommend starting light. For a challenge, swing the rope backward for 30 reps.
Got a jump rope? Try this Cardio Jump Rope Workout
What’s your favorite piece of fitness equipment?