Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Even as quarantine rules begin to lift, the social distancing situation means many people are continuing to mostly stay at home—or at least continuing to exercise at home. To make sure you’re equipped for the long-haul, I turned to some of my favorite experts to recommend the best equipment to create a small home gym. (Sure, I could have done this sooner, but hey, I had quarantine brain!) Whether or not you plan to hit an exercise class in the coming months, it may make sense to shop for some gear. Home workouts can be a great supplement to studio and gym workouts when you don’t have enough time to devote to a class. A small home gym can also save you money compared to taking classes or paying a for an annual gym membership. So if you just need one piece of equipment to round out what you have or you’d like to create a fully functioning small home gym, you’ll want to check out my expert picks!
First, let me introduce the dream team!
Keri Gans, RDN, Nutritionist, Certified Yoga Teacher, and Host of The Keri Report.
You can find her on Instagram at @kerigans and be sure to listen to her podcast, The Keri Report, for her down-to-earth nutrition advice.
Josh Rogers, BS Exercise Science; NASM, CPT; CETI, Advanced Cancer Exercise Specialist. Josh is the co-owner of Results, a boutique fitness studio in Nashville, TN, and he recently launched a fitness app to help all levels of exercisers experience the benefits of fitness outside the studio. You can get to know him on Instagram at @joshrogersfitness.
Rosalia Chann is a celebrity trainer andfitness and holistic selfcare coach based in New York City. You can find her on Instagram at @rosaliachann.
Workout Apps & DVDs Before you outfit a small home gym, it makes sense to consider the types of workouts you’ll enjoy and how to continue to challenge yourself as you progress. “Coming up with a workout routine can be challenging, especially when you're a beginner, but you can't let that discourage you from continuing your daily exercise," says Josh. "All you need to do is purchase a workout app or DVD that will guide you through your workouts and also help you to maintain proper form as you exercise. There are many great workout apps and DVDs that you can use, and there are beginner, intermediate, and advanced workouts available for all at-home athletes,” he adds. You can check out his personal app, The WAAM App, to get a studio workout at home.
Yoga and All Purpose Mats
Keri says: “Every home gym should have a yoga mat, whether it’s for doing yoga, simple stretching, or even mat Pilates. The stickiness of the mat helps to keep you safe from slipping on hard floors or rugs.” Here’s one she likes on Amazon: Jade Harmony Yoga Mat
If you’re looking for an all-around mat, Josh gives this one the thumbs up: LOKATSE HOME All Purpose Thick Yoga Mat According to Josh, “This is an essential workout accessory, whether at home or at the gym. Doing exercise on the floor can lead to severe injuries that you can avoid by doing your workout on a mat. Different types of mats are available on the market, they range in style, material, color, price and design, and whichever mat you choose to buy depends on your budget, your tastes, and the kind of exercise you intend to do on your mat. The most popular types of mats are foam yoga mats, rubber mats, cork mats, and polyurethane-rubber mats. Each of these mats has their advantages and disadvantages, but if you are a beginner, look out for a soft, non-slip yoga mat that will give you some extra cushion while doing stretches, planks, push-ups, and other exercises.”
“For those individuals who are less flexible, yoga blocks help to bring the floor up to you,” says Keri. I count myself in this camp, but even if you’re farther along in your practice, yoga blocks are key. “No matter how advanced a practitioner you are or aren't, they can also enable you to go deeper in many, many yoga postures,” she explains. Here are inexpensive blocks she recommends: Gaiam Essentials Yoga Blocks
Here’s another inexpensive small home gym staple that Keri recommends. “A yoga strap can help in many different ways, such as helping you to reach your toes in a seated forward bend, lengthening your leg out straight in a standing hand to toe pose, or helping to open up your shoulder’s in a bind. You can even play with the strap off your mat in ways to improve posture.” If you want to purchase a strap, here's a link to a great brand: Hugger Mugger Yoga Strap.
No small home gym is complete without resistance bands, which both Rosie and Josh recommend for a full body workout. “The bands are a form of loaded movement that get you very strong from the inside out very quickly,” she says, explaining that the bands create tension throughout your system the entire time, so you are getting a full body workout whether you realize it or not.” Rosie says this is a way to optimize your workout because it’s more efficient than training one muscle group in isolation. “Make sure that you have enough resistance to hold your form and challenge yourself at the same time. It's key to working up a good sweat and ensuring that you remain safe and effective,” she points out. You can find her favorites on Amazon here: Rit Fit Resistance Bands
Josh also recommends resistance bands to anyone who’s serious about an at-home workout. “Mini resistance bands are portable enough and incredibly effective, and they have three levels of resistance that you can utilize for stretches, mobility exercises, yoga, and more,” he says. Here’s his Amazon pick: MASALING 11Pcs Resistance Bands Set.
“The gliders will challenge balance and stability, as well as work up a major sweat,” she says, explaining that “it’s important that you do a good dynamic warmup before this full body workout.” For the safest gliding experience, Rosie suggests wearing shoes that create stable support at the foot and ankle (no bending in half or twisting at the sole) or go barefoot. If you’re not ready to buy gliders, she says you can use towels (on bare floors) or paper plates and a light resistance like a water bottle in your hands. When you’re ready to buy, Rosie recommends this version: Elite Exercise Sliders
Weighted jump rope Many small home gym tools offer resistance, but here’s one that gives you a killer cardio workout. “You probably used a regular jump rope when you were little, and it was fun because you could skip for hours without getting tired. However, to optimize cardio, you should upgrade from a regular jump rope to a weighted one,” says Josh. “A weighted jump rope will add some resistance and get your heart rate up in a shorter period, and it will also help you build more strength and endurance while you skip,” he says. “If you want to make it even more challenging, add double-unders, high knees, and criss-cross between jumps. Make sure you clear an ample space while using your weighted jump rope, or even better, jump rope in an open area to avoid breaking things. His pro recommendation: DEGOL Skipping Rope Tangle-Free with Ball Bearings Rapid Speed Jump Rope Cable and 6” Memory Foam Handles Ideal for Aerobic Exercise Like Speed Training, Endurance Training and Fitness
Foam Roller If you’ve ever wondered whether you need to take up space in your small home gym with a foam roller, Josh has the answer! “A foam roller is a necessity, especially if you like to engage in high-intensity workouts. Strength-training exercises like weightlifting, squats, and core workouts can drain you and leave you sore. That is why you need rest days after intense workout sessions; rest days don't necessarily mean exercise-free days, as you should do low-intensity exercises like stretches and yoga to relieve sore muscles. A foam roller is great for this, as it has three pressure zones that will help you to increase flexibility in your back, hamstrings, quads, and more, and it will ease muscle soreness and help to increase your range of motion. Just relax, lay in a comfortable place and position, and roll away.” Here’s Josh’s pick: Amazon Basics Foam Roller
Adjustable Kettlebells This is a piece of equipment that can help you continue to advance your workouts. “If you want a total body workout, you can try out kettlebell exercises,” says Josh who suggests an an adjustable kettlebell, with a weight range of ten to forty pounds. Then, he says, “you can choose whichever weight you need for your particular exercise.” These Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells are one of Josh’s top picks to equip your small home gym and you can pick up a New-Me Fitness Kettlebell Handle, which is a top-rated connector to transform dumbells into Kettlebells.
Dumbbells “There is most likely a long rack of dumbbells with different weights available at your local gym,” says Josh, “but you can't have that at home unless you have a personal gym space.” To get gym benefits in your small space, he suggests adjustable dumbbells that come with a storage rack so you can easily slide it somewhere safe after you workout. This shanchar Adjustable Weights Dumbbells is one of Josh’s top Amazon picks.
In addition to outfitting a small home gym so you can workout effectively (and efficiently) at home, eating well is another important way to take care of yourself. To help you do that effectively and efficiently, I’ve got 10 quick and easy meal and snack ideas that take 10 minutes tops! You can download them for FREE here.
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