BY MADISON SKAKLE
Even though I teach group fitness classes at several locations around the Triad, my favorite place to work out is actually at HOME. To accomplish a wide variety of workouts, you need several pieces of equipment, and I’m helping identify my top five!
- A Yoga or Exercise Mat
Let’s start with what I think is the most important: a yoga mat. In order to keep a flat surface for your workout, a yoga mat is essential for our joints and helps with the impact of more intense workouts. For example, I only do burpees (a pushup and then jump to standing) if there is a mat for me to jump on. Additionally, the pressure you put on your wrists is minimized when you have a yoga mat between yourself and the hardwood (or concrete/crate, etc.) floor. There is a wide variety of yoga mats that can be purchased all around the Triad, or online. You don’t have to go expensive! I use my yoga mat frequently, so I end up replacing it every six months because of the wear and tear. I buy cheaper mats because I like to change up the colors and patterns!
- A Set of Free Weights
In all honesty, you can get countless workouts accomplished with just your body weight, but adding free weights produces even more fun! Start with a lighter set of dumbbells and a heavier set. If you are new to exercise, I recommend buying 5 pounds and 8 pounds, and then you can work your way up to heavier sets as you progress on your fitness journey.
- Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are a great addition to any strength-training routine and come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and strengths. This portable exercise equipment is also easily stored, making it perfect for home use, hotel workouts, or when you’re tight on space at the gym. Start with a less intense level and then work your way up. Most kits come together, and you can purchase a set of three resistance bands in varying levels.
Kettlebells are my personal favorite piece of equipment to use in workouts. A kettlebell is a large, cast-iron, ball-shaped weight with a single handle. I recommend buying a kettlebell that is heavier than your free weights, so you can use it for more power moves that require heavier resistance (such as kettlebell swings, deadlifts, and squats). If you’re brand new to working out, start with a 15-pound kettlebell and then work your way up from there.
- Exercise Ball
Exercise balls come in all shapes and sizes. In order to help store your equipment and maximize space, I would recommend a smaller exercise ball. I utilize those smaller balls in almost all of my barre workouts, because they add an extra level of challenge, especially for the abdominal muscles. For example, try doing a standard crunch with a small exercise ball underneath the top part of your back. It completely changes the range of motion and engages your entire core instead of just the top part of your abdominals.
Extra Credit: TRX Workout System
I’m going to be sharing an article next time all about the TRX workout system, although I cannot help but mention it. Originating with the Navy SEALS, TRX utilizes suspension training to develop balance, strength, and flexibility—all at once. Stay tuned for next month, because I’ll be sharing my favorite TRX workout.