by JKoi of The Koi Experience
You may already have a yoga mat, a set of dumbbells and aerobics DVDs, but here are other pieces to add to your fitness arsenal that are guaranteed to get results. You can find these tools at most mass retailers and sports equipment stores, even at a local yard sale.
Want to get those abs in check, but sick and tired of doing crunches? Start on your knees and hold the ab wheel in front of you on the floor. Roll ahead slowly, keeping your back straight, using your abs to push forward. Return to the start position using the same controlled motion. This exercise is about maintaining core or mid-line stability. You want to fight to keep your spine straight as possible as you roll the wheel out and back. Complete three sets of five to 10 repetitions.
Any exercise you can do with free weights you can do with these resistance bands. Tubing is a lightweight stretchy rope with handles at the ends, which makes it perfect to take when traveling since it won’t weigh down your suitcase.
Balance discs, boards and cushions are great for all fitness levels. For a beginner, these pieces of equipment can improve—you guessed it—balance, which can help to encourage proper posture by improving balance and joint stabilization while strengthening and toning the core muscles. For beginners, use the balance tool near a wall or table so that you can grab on to it should you lose your balance. Sit or stand (with one foot or both) on the disc for two to three minutes. For more experienced fitness buffs, challenge your regular workout of curls, squats, lunges and more, by standing on the unstable base while doing each rep.
Head to a nearby hardware store and buy a 4-ft (122 cm) long, 1-in (2.5 cm) diameter wooden or PVC dowel. (A simple broomstick with the brush removed will also work). You can use a dowel for overhead squats, standing twists, sidebends and more. For squats: hold the dowel overhead as you squat to work legs and buttocks, and scapular and core stabilization. For standing twists: hold it behind your neck on your trapezius muscle (don’t rest the dowel on your neck) and twist your waist side to side to work obliques For sidebends: hold it overhead and bend at the sides to work obliques. You can also use it vertically for balance when doing sidekicks.
A pool noodle, really? Yep. It is great for stretching out your tired tensed body. Place the noodle on the floor and lie on it so it’s between your shoulder blades, under your neck and extends to your bra strap. Let your shoulders relax to the floor to stretch the pectoral muscles. Hold for two to three minutes. Another stretch: lie on your back over the pool noodle horizontally so it sits at the bottom elastic of your sports bra, hold for two to three minutes to release tension in your back.
A towel can actually be an aid for stretching and strengthening. In fact, you can use it in many of the same ways that you would a dowel, but because you have to pull it taut you have to put more muscle into the exercise. Use a large towel in place of a yoga strap for many yoga moves. And if you’re having a hard time with sit-ups, fold the towel and place it under your lower back for support.
Use a jump rope to improve physical coordination and sneak in some playful cardio. It can burn more than 700 calories per hour. Also the impact from jumping increases bone mass, which will help prevent osteoporosis.
So there you have it folks, the beginning of a great at home gym, all within your budget. Stay tuned for future workouts incorporating these wonderful fitness tools.
Hey, if it works for Michelle Obama…