Sales of pricey Peloton bikes and Tonal Smart Gyms increased dramatically, at least for those with thousands of dollars they were able and willing to invest. But many more people realized that they didn't have to spend big bucks on home equipment. They found plenty of ways to stay active, challenged, and on track with their fitness goals at home, without spending a lot of money. If you've considered taking your workout home, or just incorporating a few things you can do in between visits to the gym, we've got some ideas to get you started.
Weights, Resistance Bands, Kettlebells
Building muscle is important at any age, and you can start with some simple exercises at home. A set or two of lightweight dumbbells (5 pounds each is generally a good starting weight) is enough to get a serious arm routine in place. For more advanced workouts, add in a kettlebell or two – 15 or 20 pounds depending on your strength level – to really feel the burn. Add in some resistance bands and you're looking at a great leg workout. Not sure what to do with these items? Google "How to use kettlebells at home" and you'll see more than 15 million results, including a lot of free instructional videos, guided and timed workouts, and great tips for safely working with weights without causing injuries. If you're new to using hand weights, kettlebells or resistance bands, make sure you watch at least a few beginner videos on YouTube to get your form right.
Online Yoga Classes
Yoga is great for the mind, body and spirit. But for beginners, attending a class can be a bit intimidating, and not always convenient. Fortunately, online yoga classes really took off during the pandemic and they show no signs of slowing down. Whether you're looking for Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin or Restorative practices (or don’t know the differences and want to explore!), reputable companies including Glo and Yoga International offer live online classes and on demand practices for every level from absolute beginner to expert yogi practitioner, plus guided meditations, pilates and more. Whether you have just 10 minutes to spare or can devote 90 minutes to an extended class practice, you’ll find something that fits into your day. Most companies offer a 7-day free trial period, so you can try it out before committing to a monthly or annual membership subscription.
Online Total Fitness Classes and Programs
Want to give kick-boxing a try? Ready to take the plunge and see what a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout can do for you? Need a specialty workout you can do while pregnant and postpartum? A website that offers a huge selection of options is what you need. Consider a highly respected online streaming company such as Daily Burn. With more than 15 years of experience, they have fine-tuned their platform to offer programs and support designed to help you meet your goals, from weight loss and toning to building strength and endurance. A 12-month membership is just $7.99 per month, and they also offer a 30-day guarantee so you can cancel if you find it's not right for you.
Health and Fitness Apps
Workout apps have really improved in recent years, with more variety, better quality instruction, and exceptional content. Although some apps are free, the majority of them charge either a one-time fee, or more commonly a monthly subscription fee. Most also offer a free trial period so you can shop around and see what works best for your needs. Google "best fitness apps" and you'll find several recommendations from companies and experts who have evaluated and compared some of the most popular options. This review from Forbes Health or this one from Good Housekeeping is a great place to start. Most apps are available for both Android and iOS.
Home Fitness Equipment
As mentioned earlier, Peloton and Tonal are excellent options for serious workout goals, but they also come with a hefty price tag. The fact is, most quality home fitness equipment does require a bigger investment, but if you're sure you'll stick with it, it's a great way to super-charge your fitness journey. There are a lot of strength training and cardio equipment options to choose from, and like most things fitness-related, the best one to pick is the one you're certain you'll use regularly. If you like walking and want an option that allows you to get your steps in when it’s dark or raining, a treadmill is probably your best bet. If you want a serious cardio workout that’s also easy on your joints, think about an elliptical machine. If you want a total body workout that increases flexibility, balance and strength, consider a TRX home system. Carefully consider your available space as well as your fitness goals, then do some research to find the equipment that meets your needs and fits your budget. This guide from Sports Illustrated or this one from Healthline can get you started.
The No-Cost and Great Fun Option: Dance!
Never underestimate the value of great music and the freedom to dance to your heart's content! Dancing elevates your heart rate, engages multiple muscles, builds strength and muscle tone, improves balance and enhances mood – to name just some of the benefits. There are no rules, and anybody – no matter their age or fitness level – can do it. And while there are plenty of free videos and apps (some free, some paid subscriptions) designed just to support your fitness dancing, you really don't need them to get started. Just turn up your favorite energetic playlist and start moving. Self-conscious about how you might look? Just close the curtains and let yourself go. No matter what, you'll feel better when you're done!
This article first appeared in the November 2023 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.