Working out at the gym can certainly help you get closer to your fitness goals, but it can also be a huge time-suck. Just think about how many minutes you spend driving to the gym—not to mention waiting for equipment, or for a class to start. The easiest way to eliminate the time crunch so you can sweat when it’s convenient for you (and save some money)? Work out at home.
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get an effective workout. “All you need at home is a few good multitasking pieces,” says Kim Waldauer, personal trainer in Beverly Hills, California. Below, Waldauer shares four of her favorite tools for home gyms. The best part? They’re inexpensive and won’t force you to rearrange your living room decor. And beginners, don’t worry, most manufacturers include mini instruction booklets and/or DVDs that include sample workouts to get you started.
What it does: Builds strength and can help you develop better balance
Cost: About $20 to $60, depending on the weight
How to use it: Lift or hold it as you exercise. For example, you might do squats while lifting the ball above your head, or hold it while you do crunches for added resistance. Bonus: Because the ball is a little cumbersome to move, you’re constantly challenging your center of gravity, hence the balance benefits.
What it does: Builds strength by working your muscles through a wide range of motions; aids flexibility
Cost: About $10 and up
How to use it: You can use the tube in a number of ways, either holding it in your hands for upper-body exercises or stepping on it while holding it to work both lower and upper body. The real beauty? “You can control how much resistance the tube gives you,” Waldauer says. Just shorten the distance between your end points for more resistance; increase the distance for less resistance. The tube is also a great stretching tool, helping you get deeper into your stretches.
Set of dumbbells
What it does: One of the best strength-training multitaskers, as you can do a huge range of strength exercises with them
Cost: About $10 to $40 a pair, depending on the weight
How to use it: Holding them firmly in your hands, you can work upper body, lower body, core, or a combination of all three, depending on the exercise. From bicep curls to shoulder presses, dumbbells can work with every tried-and-true strength exercise, says Waldauer.
What it does: Makes any exercise more challenging, as your body—especially your core—will have to work harder to stabilize itself
Cost: $20 and up
How to use it: The curved nature of the ball can make exercises a little tricky at first, so give yourself time to adjust. Also, make sure you get the right ball for your height (when sitting on the ball, your feet should rest flat on the floor with a 90-degree bend in your knees). Waldauer recommends doing push-ups, planks, ab crunches, and hamstring curls with the ball for an added challenge.