Before quarantine hit, I was training for my third half marathon. I was running most days of the week and doing strength work at the gym to enhance my training. After about two weeks of stay-at-home orders, I realized the pandemic was not slowing down. While I’ve always been a proponent of at-home workouts I also enjoyed going to the gym. But, as gyms began closing, I knew I would need to start working out at home more regularly so I decided to make some additions to my home gym set up.
Here are five portable and affordable fitness items that can elevate and maximize an at-home workout:
It might seem self-explanatory, but a yoga mat is one of the best pieces of equipment you can invest in. Getting your hands on a yoga mat will simply transform your space into an at-home gym. Instead of doing abs on the hard wood floor of your dining room, do them on a softer, more absorbent surface. A mat is one of simplest ways to switch your mindset from relaxing in your living room to breaking a sweat in front of your TV. Whether you use the mat for yoga or a set of burpees, it’s a product you can keep forever. Just make sure to wipe it down before you roll it up for your next sweat session.
As a runner, I have utilized resistance bands since I was on the track team in high school. They can be used for balance and strength and come in a variety of different sizes. Bands elevate simple glute bridges or provide an extra burn when doing single leg dead lifts. They are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment to own. Bands are light weight and can be easily thrown in a gym bag or suitcase to be taken on the go. Most bands come in a set of three (light, medium and heavy). They can even be bought with different patterns and prints to match your own personal style.
Gliders are the most recent addition to my fitness collection. I hate them and love them. Gliders are an underappreciated fitness tool. They can be used when focusing on your abs, isolating inner thigh muscles or hamstrings. You simply slide them under your feet on a flat surface. They quickly transform body weight exercises from simple to extremely difficult. However, if you don’t have gliders, two paper plates or small hand towels work just as well.
I love to jump rope before a race to warm up and get my blood flowing. The last time you jumped rope was probably in elementary school. However, jumping rope is one of the best forms of cardio exercise you can do. It quickly elevates your heart rate and can be incorporated into a warmup to break a sweat. It’s lightweight, portable and connects you to your inner child. Even without a physical jump rope, you can jump in place to get the same effect!
After nearly every run or workout, I use a foam roller. A foam roller is a self-massaging tool. It can be used before and after a workout to loosen muscle knots. You can roll your calves, thighs and even your back. Foam rolling relaxes muscles and aids in recovery time. By incorporating foam rolling into your routine, you’ll be able to feel better and stronger in your next workout. There are a variety of rollers, some with raised points or some with flats bumps. Picking the right roller is just a matter of preference.
My half marathon ultimately was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I still maintained my fitness by running and incorporating different exercises using a variety of equipment. Even as gyms reopen, I will still utilize my at-home workout pieces. They are staple pieces that can be taken on the go and all of these items can be bought for much less than $100 collectively, the price of some monthly gym memberships. These essentials are great ways to instantly elevate workouts and improve fitness. You might not need to purchase a gym membership ever again!