The need for physical fitness has never gone away. Once thought to be a fad of the 1980’s, the obesity rate among children and adults has reached epic proportions. Nearly a third of all American Adults are considered obese- more than 30 pounds overweight. The numbers of morbidly obese persons, those whose weight is life threatening, is enough to make anyone shudder.
Advertisements abound for exercise equipment and “complete home gyms,” that promise to get a person in shape with regular exercise. Many times, the cost of these machines is prohibitive. They can be heavy, hard to set up and immobile- which means they take up permanent space. If the person becomes bored, it then sits and collects dust. Selling it used means the person won’t recoup all the costs.
There is an inexpensive alternative. By shopping wisely, a home gym can be created for very little money. And, it can be taken on vacations or in RV, campgrounds, or even to the office.
The body needs at least 20 minutes of workout with elevated heart rate, three or more times a week.
• A jump rope costs less than $5, including tax.
• A small trampoline allows the person to jog without a track or dodging traffic. They are available from approximately $39 and up. Some are foldable, come with balance bars the jogger can hold on to, and DVD’s for advice on getting the most for your money.
• Walking and jogging in the neighborhood is of course, free.
• Free weights, such as dumbbells or weighted wrist and ankle bands are available for very little money. I have both five and 10- pound ankle/wrist weights that cost less than $10 a set. Dumbbells are sold separately, as pairs and as sets. When vacationing, free weights may not be the best thing to pack, as weighing luggage becomes popular with airlines and bus lines.
• Resistance bands- the best way to describe these is giant rubber bands. They aren’t, of course. Books, DVD’s, and internet sites explain how to use them and most come with instruction books. Some bands are made to hook around a post or tree for use.
• Home made weights. Cans of vegetables, milk jugs (a gallon of water weighs 8.5 pounds), or other items substitute for weights. Make sure the person can lift safely and easily.
The core is the set of muscles around the abdomen and back. Strengthening this area prevents or eliminates back pain, improves posture and balance.
• An inflatable exercise ball is available for less than $10 and up. Booklets and DVD instructions are included with some balls. Books are available with different exercises for practically every area of the body. Combine working with weights while using the ball- a “2-for-1” workout.
• Disc pillows cost less than $15 and up. Improve balance and strength in very little space. Instructions and air pumps are included.
• Balance domes range from $29 and up, some include resistance tubes, balance bars, DVD’s and more.
Flexibility Training (Stretching)
We all need the ability to move. Stretching before and after a workout allows blood to get to the muscles and improve strength and endurance, as well as a host of other benefits.
• Books or DVD’s on stretching. I use “The Whartons’ Stretch Book – Times Books (Random House) Paperback (July 9, 1996) by Jim Wharton and Phil Wharton. This book is available on Amazon for less than $12. When a shoulder injury ended my EMS career, this book helped rehabilitate my shoulder without surgery.
• Stretching bands are easier to use than the strength bands. A mat and towel or jump rope also helps to stretch the body.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
One huge advantage of having a home gym is battling embarrassment. I really don’t need someone who’s in great shape staring, pointing and giggling at those parts which “aren’t twenty anymore.”
I also find it annoying to have to wait for a machine while the person using it is engaged in a cell phone conversation or yakking on and on with a buddy.
Equally annoying is finally getting to the machine of choice, only to find it covered in someone else’s sweat. Yuck.
At home, none of that happens.
The disadvantage is of course, that I generally exercise by myself. I really have to motivate myself (or drag myself mentally kicking and screaming) to the exercise mat. Working out alone can be boring.
I invite friends, and on certain days we walk, other days we work with equipment we all bring. We work out at each other’s homes- so we get a change of scenery not available in a gym. No one points and laughs or giggles. The workouts are easy, fun and stress-free. We also get to try out new equipment without the cost of memberships or spending a fortune.
Best of all, when I load the trailer for camping, my “gym” comes with me.
Source: Colette Bouchez, “At-Home Workouts: 5 Essential Items for a Home Gym,” Web MD Website, Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD, 2 October, 2009
Source: The author’s own home gym items and experience.