So if big gyms or even small, private training studios just aren’t your thing, and you’ve been relying on outdoor activities and sports for your fitness regimen, now what do you do? It’s getting too cold to do your thing outside. And even organized winter sports require you to have kept up with endurance training and flexibility workouts. Does this mean it’s time to take the winter off from your structured exercise routine and risk injury—not to mention embarrassment—on the ski slope or ice skating? You’re all set to gain ten pounds, loose some muscle mass, and get depressed and de-conditioned? When spring arrives, you’ll be talking about the frantic, unhealthy ways to get back into shape.
My motto is and always has been, no excuses. You can achieve your goals regardless of your situation. Time, weather, space or finances are no longer acceptable reasons to neglect yourself or your fitness after reading the advice I’m giving you right now. Instead, try this: for less than $500, you can purchase a few items that will give you a great workout at home, regardless of your fitness level.
First, we need a spot to perform your fitness routine. One that you can leave set up, ideally. Basements and garages are ideal spots to create a place to workout. I like these choices because the floors are concrete and you can move around without disturbing others, and do various exercises without shaking the house. If you do not have either of these options, a spare bedroom or even your living room will work.
Next, you’ll need to buy some tools to make your routine fun and challenging. I can get and give a great workout by just using and performing body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, and various plyometrics, and add progressions to all, but it is nice to have a few pieces of equipment, too. So here’s my list of items to purchase, and a few suggestions for how to use them.
- Swiss balls or stability balls. A great way to add balance to your routine. You do not need a lot of space to perform exercises on these. Some great moves are the supine ball roll, supine bridges, elevated feet planks with knee tucks, wall squats, and supine hamstring rolls. You can purchase a top-quality one for about $60.
- Med balls and slam balls. You’ve seen them in old school boxing gyms. They come in different weight increments, and can be used in moves such as abdominal twists, sit-ups, and any range of motion exercises such as squats and lunges, to add weight and movement to any exercise. Jam balls do not bounce when slammed on the floor or against a wall, so standing, kneeling, and half kneeling chop/slams are a great way to work the core and stabilize the spine. Prices range from $15-35.
- Rubber bands are a great addition to any exercise routine. Made popular in physical therapy programs, these can take the place of expensive cable machines. They come in different colors and resistances so they can create a challenge to all. Exercises such as rows, chest flys/presses, shoulder presses, raises, and rotator exercises can be done on different planes with different resistance just by shortening and lengthening the band. You can anchor to a pole, door or piece of heavy furniture and add even more variations. A great, versatile “must-have” for about $15-30 each.
- Jump rope (you’ll need ceiling height and a solid floor, of course). This is a great way to get a little cardiovascular conditioning while working on your coordination and footwork. Jumping rope also stimulates your calves and shoulders, and forces you to have rhythm. While jumping, maintain good posture, keep your abdominals tight, and vary your footwork by jumping on both feet, one leg, and alternate legs, and then increasing speed. All this for $12-20.
- Bosu balance trainer. This is a popular item right now because of its versatile uses for conditioning the entire body. It looks like a Swiss ball cut in half, with a platform on the bottom.. You can use it for single-leg training techniques, squats, and lateral movement—it’s even durable enough to do jumping jacks on to reduce impact. Flip it over, dome side down, for pushup and plank variations. These go for around $50-65.
If you want help locating equipment, you can go to my website at www.fitnessprofiles.net. Click on the Perform Better banner on the “About” tab, and you’ll see everything you need to know about the equipment mentioned here. A heavy bag is a great, inexpensive tool to train and relieve stress, but you need a sturdy place to anchor it. Cable machines are adjustable so you can train every body part, but they are also expensive and cumbersome. Start with what you can and make progressions along the way.
You don’t need to give up your fitness routine for the winter. You want to be fit for life—not just for half the year. If you can join a gym, great—and even if you can’t, put together a little area for a home gym. Before you know it, all the members of your family will be asking you what to do with pieces of equipment. And that is the goal—to pass on a fitness regime that everyone can be a part of. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. There’s no excuse for a sedentary lifestyle. So, look around your home and set up your own area that will serve you well. Come spring, you won’t have to start all over again; you’ll be good to go back outdoors.
Meanwhile, take advantage of all the winter sports you can. Now that you’ll do them when you are flexible and conditioned to do so, there will be no injuries and competitions are yours to win!
Owner, Providence Fit Body Boot Camp & Fitness Profiles