Finding time to workout isn’t easy for most people and the cost of belonging to a gym can seem prohibitive. Additionally, some of my clients don’t like working out in a gym because they are embarassed or uncomfortable doing so in front of other people. For busy moms, they need the ability to be able to work out in between kids naps or activities so having a space that can flex for their fitness needs is essential. For this reason, I include online workouts for my clients in addition to nutritional coaching. I feel its important that my clients have all the tools they need to reach their health and fitness goals.
Many of the people whom I help with nutrition coaching for often ask me for advice on how to work out at home, or on the road if they travel. I think the most important thing I want to stress is that you absolutely CAN work out effectively in your home with basic fitness elements. In fact, there are many excellent body weight exercises that you can do which will help you improve your fitness level, build lean muscle mass and overall conditioning.
The key to success is always CONSISTENCY.
For any workout routine to be successful and provide you with significant results it means doing a combination of healthy eating everyday and engaging in physical activity (where you get good and sweaty) at least three times a week for 30 – 40 minutes per session. You know what they say, abs are created in the gym and revealed in the kitchen!
So what should your workouts be comprised of? Well, I recommend a combination of cardio & strength training workouts every week so you can build lean muscle, boost your metabolism and tone your body as you lose weight. I know a lot of people rely primarily on cardio for their workouts but it’s strength training that truly makes a difference in your body long term. Building muscle boosts fat loss and your metabolism so that your body operates more efficiently and burns more calories – even at rest.
So based on that, here are the essentials for creating a great workout space in your home:
A Defined Workout Space
It doesn’t have to be a whole room, it just needs to have some flex space where you can shift furniture to create a zone that allows you the space to work out effectively. You can use some of the furniture IN the room as a prop to workout with (like doing tricep dips from your ottoman or sofa). I recommend at least a 7′ x 7′ space where you can lay a yoga mat down easily and manage more active exercises (especially if you are working out to a video).
Organize that space so that you have a spot to store your equipment safely so that you don’t need to pull it out of the closet everytime you want to work out. Trust me, the more work you have to do to get organized for your workouts, the more reasons you will find NOT to workout. So make it easy on yourself and keep it all in one location. If its a large open room, consider getting free weight stands (see below) and decorative bins or baskets that will allow you to store your equipment in the room but maybe not in plain sight.
Psychologically, when you create a space to workout in the more inclined you will be to use it!
Even if you are just starting out, its good to incorporate strength training into your workouts. Starting out, I recommend doing body weights and doing a lot of the exercises with verylight weights (3lbs or 5 lbs) so you can start to strengthen your body slowly and safely. For the weights themselves, many people still stick with the traditional hand weights however I happen to love kettlebells for a number of key reasons. First of all, they are easier to grip and they work my core body much better than a traditional bulky weight. They are versatile, portable and highly effective for any type of workout.
They are good for simple strength training exercises and they also allow you to easily incorporate them into more complex movements that work multiple areas of your body.
Another good option is to add a set of handsfree weighted gloves to your equipment. These are great for upper body sculpting and can be incorporated into kickboxing, running, upper body exercises and more.
As you make progress and get more fit, you can add free weights into squats, lunges, planks and more. If you find the exercise is too easy with the weight – congratulations – it’s time to increase that weight so you keep seeing results!
These are an inexpensive staple for any home gym! Resistance bands help you isolate and work specific muscles in your body so you can tone & tighten your physique. They increase the intensity of your workout and help you continue to see progress as you get fitter and stronger. I recommend getting a set of three bands (light, medium and heavy resistance) so that you can use them for a variety of exercises.
The other great benefit of resistance bands is they allow you to do strength training without having to have hand weights. So you can still get a full body workout with all the benefits with these simple bands. Plus they are simple to store, easy to travel with & don’t take up a lot of space!
If you do workouts with Beachbody, Insanity, P90x, Crossfit, Yoga etc. then you can incorporate these bands easily into those workouts. The bands are also excellent for stretching and rehabillitation after an injury as they allow you to easily & safely stretch out all areas of your body.
Even if you don’t do Yoga (but I hope you will), a yoga mat is essential for a home gym. It provides a textured surface that will give you stability for your body as you workout and ensures you don’t slip. The padded mat provides comfort as you move through the different floor exercises, giving you both comfort and support.
Yoga itself is a deceptively simple workout that stretches your body, working all areas of your body while improving your balance, strength & stability. By doing at least one yoga workout a week, you will help maximize the effectiveness of your other workouts because your muscles will be looser and your body more limber.
My yoga instructor often describes the yoga mat as a safe place which provides an escape from everyday stresses & worries. To me, the yoga mat is both a tool and a safe place that gives me the flexibility to workout wherever I need to – whether its at home or on when I travel. There are simple bags you can get to carry your mat or you can use a yoga belt to tie it up and carry it on the go.
Since I do practice yoga, I got a kit similar to the one featured here, which combines all the different yoga equipment together. It’s totally whatever your preference is but the mat itself is an essential piece of equipment regardless of whether you plan to do yoga or not. If you want to try yoga, take a look at some of the great yoga apps available!
Jumping rope is one of the best ways to get a great cardio workout! It increases your heart rate swiftly and works key parts of your body including your arms, legs & core. You can easily create a customized HIIT workout with a skipping rope that will have your body working hard and buring calories in a very short amount of time.
If you can’t use this inside, try in your garage or outside (depending on the weather). I have clients who take equipment like this and the bands (see above) to the park where they can workout easily without worrying about damaging their home.
The bonus for skipping ropes? Super small and easy to store and to travel with!
Foam Rollers & Stability Balls
While this is not a piece of exercise equipment per se, it IS necesary for stretching and recovery after your workouts. We keep a variety of rollers in our house from a long foam one to mini rollers that help target specific areas or muscles.
There are also certain foam rollers that serve as both a foam roller AND a mobility tool. These help you perform exercises like push ups (you will need 2 of them) to challenge you a bit more.
For a stability ball, there are the standard ones that you can get OR if space is at a premium, consider getting a Bosu instead. A Bosu looks like the top of a stability ball on top of a hard platform. We use these often for pushups, burpees, lunges & squats. They are great for helping
you engage your core and push you to maximize your workouts.
I hope that this gives you all the information you need to create a functional – and appealing – workout space in your home. Whether a separate space with all the bells & whistles or a streamlined set up for a small home or combined living space – you have a ton of options that will allow you to workout effectively.
As part of my health & nutrition coaching, I provide workouts for my clients that they can complete at home – or on the road – with minimal equipment! The workouts are tailored to you & your fitness level – whatever that happens to be. Everyday you will get a new workout so that you can stay active and work towards hitting your body weight goals! Learn more today!