Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Equipping Your Home Gym

As promised, I had my personal trainer, Gwyn, from the the YMCA Healthy Living Center create a list of options to start your workouts at home.  Sometimes it's easier to start at home, no one, except the cat, is there to see you.  Yet, even when you are a seasoned gym rat, you may find occasions where getting out of the house is hard - read: a foot of snow is packed in your driveway.

So, this is the list.  I have gone and found picture examples for you - I can say 'medicine ball', but you may not have a clue what I mean without a visual aid. :)

  • A ball - sometimes called a stability ball, exercise ball, etc.  It is great for a number of things including core work.  Some people even use them at work instead of a chair to help their core and posture.
    Okay, I could have found a
    picture of just a ball, but hey.
  • Mat - It can be a yoga mat or an exercise mat.  The yoga mat is thinner or you could get one of the new thicker yoga mats.  These are used to cushion a number of your floor moves.
Thick Yoga Mat
  • Hand weights - Grab a pair of weights that are on the upper end of your lifting limit to start.  For example, if 10 pounds is a challenge, but doesn't break your arm, this is a good choice.  You can start here and if you become committed you can increase the number of weights you have at home or get one of the multi-weight sets.
    • If the weights seem heavy- keep your sets to fewer reps until you are stronger.  If you outgrow the weights, increase reps to wear the muscle out - you won't get as much bulk, but will still build muscle.
One example of hand weights.

  • Tubing or Bands - Both of these are good options if you want longer muscles.  You can do a number of weights-like moves, but you can do many things that weights can't. 
Bands can often be bought by length
and come in different tensions -
the higher the tension, the harder it is to pull.

Just like bands, tubes have different tensions,
their color will tell you which is which .

  • Playground ball - Yes, it's what it sounds like.  Go to the toy section and look for the ball you played four-square with in grade school.  The ball is used for toning and balance.
Not kidding, straight from kick ball to you.
Just don't hit anyone in the back of the head with it.
  • Balancing equipment - Bosu Ball, Dyna Disc and Core Board.  You don't need all three, pick the one that seems least threatening. LOL.  All of these are for building core and helping you learn balance.
Bosu ball - basically half a stability ball on a base.
Dyna Disc.

Core board - this is the newest variety,
but you will also see old school wooden ones
that look like a mini teeter totter. 

  • Jump rope - you were likely a thinner person as a child, this little item had something to do with that.  Jumping rope fries calories and is great cardio.
Another flashback to your childhood.
Only the ones for grown-ups come in different lengths,
so if you haven't grown an inch since 6th grade, you are covered.

  • Medicine ball - This has nothing to do with the pharmacist or those guys who used to toss them into each others guts in those odd videos from the 40's.  Instead this is a modern take that can be used as weights.
Medicine balls come in a number of weight options.

  • Step - How many widgets you put under the step determine how high you are stepping.  This can help build quads and glutes.  It can also be great cardio if you do it fast enough.
You can get additional wedges to make them taller - aka-harder.

  • Kettle bells - NOT FOR BEGINNERS.  You may remember a couple months back I was briefly sidelined after a class- that was with an instructor.  If you are really interested in trying these, meet up with an instructor at least once.  And no, the videos at the store do not count.  That's because Jillian Michaels can only correct your form if she can see you.
Kettle bell

I realized as I was writing this there may be some terms that I am tossing out like you have a gym membership or have a trainer.  Tomorrow I will put together a glossary covering some key terms you may hear bandied about as you get healthy.

You can find ways to use the above with a simple Google search.  But I like to help when I can, so I am going to ask Gwyn to give an exercise a week for the next few weeks to walk us through each piece of equipment.

By the way, no need to run out and get all of this at once.  It will set you back a few hundred dollars if you do.  Instead ease into it - the mat, hand weights, tubing/bands and a jump rope are a nice starting point.  If you keep at it, you can invest in yourself at a higher level.

Yours in Health,


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