If you have suddenly found yourself exercising at home, instead of attending your usual classes or PT sessions, you might want to invest in a couple of key pieces of equipment to make the best use of your exercise time.
What you choose will depend on your goals, and of course your budget, but here are a few suggestions that you might want to consider, including some of my links to my favourite brands and suppliers.
I am not paid to promote any of these items. They are all ones that I use in my business and for my own fitness, and I am happy to recommend them. Please do your own research and shop around as you may find alternative options, including pre-used items on auction websites.
- skipping rope – choose a plastic-covered one as it will have a good weight and stay in good condition even if it gets wet
- an exercise mat – I buy my yoga mats from ebay (there are loads to choose from so take your pick)but you may prefer a smaller fitness mat like this
- small pilates/rehab/soft tissue release equipment – trigger point ball*, prickly therapy ball*, overball, stability disc, stretch band*, pilates circle, small weighted pilates ball (* I have these items marked in stock and available for local delivery p please message me for details)
- dumb-bells – there are so many options on the market that it is best to find the ones you like most. I have Hampton vinyl covered DB up to 4kg – they have a smooth surface so comfortable to hold, but they are quite chunky to grip. For heavier weights, I have hexagonal rubber DB which have a bare metal grip – not so comfortable and cold but very non-slip
- kettle-bells – you will often find these at affordable prices in large super-markets or online. I like cast iron KB without a vinyl/neoprene coating – you may prefer a coated finish to avoid rusting if they get damp. The really big, concrete-filled KB are cheaper but the excess bulks can compromise your technique so best avoided.
- barbells & plates & spring release collars – if you only want one set of weights, these are very versatile. The plates can be used on the bar and separately without it and you’ll have a selection of weights suitable for a range of different exercises.
Bigger/more expensive stuff:
- Vipr – these are awesome, very versatile, suitable for indoors and outdoors, long-lasting – a great all-round piece of kit. You will often find them at good prices on auction sites – just check they are in good condition before you buy
- a suspension trainer eg. TRX – if you only want to buy one thing, you should definitely consider this! When i was putting this article together, I found lots of other brands which were much cheaper but I cannot vouch for them, whereas I have had my TRX (in fact I have two!) for years without any signs of wear and tear. My clients love it when we do suspended planks in particular!!
- Reebok deck – I bought one of these to replace an older step but found it is much heavier than I wanted to carry around to PT clients’ houses, so now I use it at home. It’s not a cheap step platform, but it is a versatile piece of equipment which has several functions including use as a weights bench.
Suppliers I like & use the most:
I like to shop around for smaller items but I tend to use these two suppliers for most of the fitness equipment I buy. My advice when shopping for fitness equipment, would be to compare quality as well as price and buy the best you can afford. Start with one or two multi-purpose items rather than feeling like you need everything on the market!!
What weights should I use?
This will depend on what your goals are, any health issues you may have and your previous exercise history. If you are a current exerciser, you will probably have a good idea what weights you already use, but if not, have a look at my suggestions below.
As a rule, you want a weight that is challenging but manageable so that you can perform the exercise with great technique and good posture. Bear in mind that you will probably out-grow a lighter-weight DB or KB quite quickly once you start exercising.
Here are some very general weight guidelines:
- weighted pilates balls need to be light enough that you don’t overload neck and shoulder muscles, so you probably don’t want more than 0.5kg-1kg
- most women I train are comfortable with 3-5kg DB, a 4-6kg KB or a 4-6kg Vipr for a circuit-style workout
- for men, I would tend to offer 5-8kg DB, a 8-12kg KB or an 8kg Vipr for a circuit-style workout
Some final thoughts:
Remember that there are so many exercises which can be performed using only your body-weight so there is no need to go crazy setting up your own home gym. However, if buying a few pieces of kit will keep you strong and healthy and motivated over the coming months, and beyond, then maybe it’s time to go (online) shopping!
As always, please check with your own medical or health practitioner, and seek professional fitness coaching before embarking on a new exercise routine.