No Time For Gym? Here’s How You Can Turn Your House Into One
Don’t have time to go to the gym? What if you could turn your home into one? Read on to know how.
“Thou shalt not exercise, because thou has to hustle to clinch a deal with thine overseas client.”
“Thou hast not run today, because the neighbourhood park is teeming with overenthusiastic joggers.”
“Thou hast even ceded the will to train with thine BFF to a most annoying traffic pileup.”
“All ye lycra-clad folks, why not seek within what ye seek outside?”
Biblical analogies aside, how does one Hail Mary oneself around these typically challenging situations to find those elusive 10 – 20 minutes to exercise every day and meet our fitness goals to attain terrific bods like Deepika Padukone or Hrithik Roshan?
Maybe you could consider putting together your very own, personal home gym. Process this..It saves you hefty yearly gym membership and personal trainer fees as well as the daily race against time to make it to your scheduled workout session. And like Reebok Master Trainer Vinata Shetty jokingly says, “There’s no running away from this.”
So if you think a home gym is the answer to your fitness woes, let’s get down to the brass tacks, or shall we say cool home gym hacks.
The Step Board, For Those Washboard Abs
Let’s first talk about the ubiquitous step board that you find in virtually every gym and studio. Don’t get misled by its plain Jane looks, this simple piece of equipment actually packs in quite a punch! You can do a variety of power lunges, push-ups and squats on it. You’ll find it particularly handy for a high-voltage session of Kickbox Cardio.
Always place your full foot on the step to avoid the possibility of injury.
You can even lie with your back on it and do your Chest Press, Flyes, Skull Crushers, Ab Crunches, Flutter Kicks and Leg Raise Holds with dumbbells. Raise the height of the board for executing Triceps Dips.
If you’re looking to purchase one online go for a renowned brand with the sturdiest board. Though it might seem expensive, it’ll be money well-spent. Anything else will be a rip-off.
Resistance Tubing: Toning 101
This is arguably the swiss army knife in your arsenal of fitness equipment. So versatile you’ll be amazed at the sheer variety of exercises you can do with this one and that too attacking all the key muscle groups – lats, pecs, delts, abs, glutes, quads to name just a few.
For the uninitiated it might need some getting used to. Try not to hasten through your workout as you’ll need tremendous core strength and balance throughout. Learn to “choke” the tubing around your hands, feet and torso to perform a variety of exercises to power up your Rows, Russian Twists and Triceps Kickbacks.
It’s definitely an improvement over exercising with dumbbells because you can vary the resistance as per your requirement by choking the tubing. What you end up with is a toned-up bod you can be proud of.
Dumbbells and Dopamine
If you’re not all that comfy with resistance tubing, you always have your trusted set of dumbbells to fall back on. The happy sidebar - the rush of dopamine you feel after completing your reps. Here are some quick tips:
- Rule of thumb: For any exercise use weights that’ll tire you out in the recommended range of reps. Let’s just say, for the sake of illustration, you’re doing an overhead press with 2 kg hand weights and you’re required to do 2 sets of 12 reps each and you feel fatigued at the end of it, then that’s the one to opt for.
- The American Council on Exercise recommends that beginners start with a weight they can lift about 12 to 15 times for one to two sets.
- Remember, your choice of weight depends on which muscle group you are targeting. Squats might require a much heavier weight than say Triceps Kickbacks.
- Most likely you’ll need at least three different pairs of weights.
Medicine Ball Magic
The medicine ball does so much more than just add joie de vivre to your workout. Strength, endurance, power, plyometrics, functional fitness, this one checks quite a few boxes in the exercise matrix. Rope in your friend or family member for a fun partner workout.
Choose a ball heavy enough to slow you down, yet not so heavy that it compromises your range of motion and coordinated control. You’ll need at least two to be able to execute a whole spectrum of exercises.
Toughening Up With TRX
The TRX Suspension Trainer (those signature heavy duty yellow and black nylon straps you see dangling from the ceilings of countless gyms and studios) are the training tool of choice for celebs and Olympians alike. Suspend one from a wall mount screwed to a wall or ceiling or beam, or for that matter even your door using a door anchor for exercises that use your bodyweight and gravity to build muscle, strength, balance, good posture and eventually a rock-solid core.
It’s also comparatively easier on the joints than other gym equipment. Having said that, you need to have a reasonable level of practice and expertise to do say an Atomic Pushup or a Pike. Don’t go out on a limb and try these in your very first session. Always weight-test your TRX system before you embark on any exercise.
To wit, practically any exercise can be made more challenging with TRX, which essentially translates into a fairly intense workout in a short span of time. Crank up your calorie burn with a Cardio-Strength Circuit, i.e. short bursts of cardio between TRX exercises.
Mirror-Mirror On The Wall…
Any trainer will wager that form and technique are as important as intensity and the range of motion with which you execute any exercise safely, more so if you want to see the results you desire. That’s why it’s very essential to have a mirror in front of you, as truth be told you’re exercising at home all by yourself and not under the watchful gaze of a professional trainer.
Best part is you can see for yourself the progress you’re making all along your weight loss/ fitness journey. Even if it’s a good quality mirror of at least 8 mm thickness, mounted on a wooden frame, wide enough to accommodate you and a buddy or family member it’s totally worth the investment.
Jump Ropes and Jukeboxes
A throwback to playschool days you might think. On the contrary, jump rope exercises are high impact, high on aerobic and muscle endurance. An inexpensive yet very effective addition to your repertoire of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises. Great for cardiovascular health and developing bone density.
- When you step onto the middle of a jump rope with one foot you should be able to get the ends up to chest height.
- Jump off and land lightly on the balls of your feet, knees bent slightly, elbows close to your body, spring back up to lessen the impact on your knees and ankles.
- Only jump high enough for your feet to clear the rope.
- If you have joint issues, you can SKIP this one or consult your physician.
Energize your workouts with remixes of your favourite melodies and hits. You’ll find a plethora of music online with designated bpms (beats per minute) for any exercise regimen that you might have in mind. Try Workout Music Source and Power Music.
There’s a flurry of health, exercise and fitness apps like Kenzai, GOQii, Freeletics, cure.fit that also map your nutrition, hydration, calories, et al, on a daily basis apart from friendly tips and advice from a personal trainer/ coach/ nutritionist/ wellness expert/ doctor. Tap into ‘Pocket Workouts by DAREBEE’ and ‘Home Workout – No Equipment’ for timer-based workout routines for all levels - beginner, intermediate, advanced and free resources that include healthy snacking options as well.
You can even mix it all up and get the best of all worlds!! Classic example - a forward lunge on a step board in combination with an overhead press with dumbbells.
For floor exercises and stretches see if you can opt for natural, eco-friendly mats. Good for you, good for the environment, good for the planet.
How Much Will All This Cost Me?
The Moment of Truth..Quick, back-of-the envelope calculations will tell you that in all likelihood it should cost as much, or possibly even lesser than your annual gym membership!! What’s more, it’s as good as a one-time investment.
The next set of equipment are totally up to your discretion. You can go ahead and acquire them in case you feel you could do with a lot more variety as well as to liven up your gym space. Think Swiss Ball, BOSU ball and Kettlebell. In addition, equipment like Agility Ladder and Cones, believe it or not, could also serve as great ice-breakers for any team-building exercise for offsite corporate training programs.
Beaming Workouts into your Living Room
If you want to bring in your A game in fitness, i.e. want the whole shebang, wire up a High Definition LCD projector to your ceiling in a way that you can project videos onto your living room wall. You’ll need at least an 8 mbps broadband connection, Wi-Fi link to Chromecast/ Fire Stick and an HDMI cable. Voila! You can have a lifelike, king-size experience of exercising to all your favourite exercise videos with the atmospherics of a home theatre system. But let me warn you a good quality projector will set you back by at least 30 grand!
Since you’re pretty much on your own when exercising at home, here are a few pointers you should be aware of.
- Consult your doctor beforehand if you have any pre-existing/ suspected medical condition.
- Listen to your body. If you feel you have over-exerted yourself or feel any excruciating or persistent pain, stop immediately and seek medical help.
- One of the most failsafe ways of avoiding injury is to follow form and technique for any exercise as has been professionally advised. “I would say go in for a few supervised sessions till you gain mastery and control to do it on your own,” says Vinata.
Mazel Tov, Good Luck and Godspeed!
In conclusion, let me just say this, a well-equipped home gym is definitely a good fallback option on the days you’re not able to hit the gym!
(Aruna Ramesh Balaji is a freelance writer, fitness instructor and former television journalist. She firmly believes that one of the gateways to a happy life is good health made possible by significant lifestyle changes. It’s her most cherished goal to make available the collective wisdom, both ancient and contemporary, of masters and experts in the fields of health and fitness, so readers such as yourself can lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.)
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