Build a Great Home Gym on a Budget

Check out this great article from my health/fitness bloggin’ buddies over at Northwest Pharmacy/Health Perch on how you can save money & time by creating your own gym at home!  Be sure to visit their site, a digital health magazine, for a variety of topics related to physical and mental wellness as well as how to fight the signs of aging.  Access their site here or at the below link.

Long commutes, expensive membership fees, and bad weather are just a few excuses that stall a regular workout routine. Consistent exercise promotes better health, improved energy, and a positive mood, so why not create a space for exercise where it’s most convenient: at home.

Though elaborate at-home gyms sound dreamy, these budget-friendly ideas are sure to keep a body moving without breaking the bank. Home gym equipment doesn’t have to be bulky. Build a killer routine using items that stow away under beds, pack in bags, are portable around the home, and can be crafted using items found at the hardware store.

The Savvy Home Gym Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Make use of what you find around your home. Old gallon jugs can be refilled and used as weights. Chairs, tables, and stools are also great pieces for plyometric, elevated, or decline moves.
  • Purchase items that store away so your gym doesn’t take over an entire room. Look for items you can tuck beneath the bed, store in baskets, or tuck on a shelf in the closet. For travelers, look for portable items you can pack up when you are on the go.
  • Scour garage sales, online resell sites, and gym closeout sales. Used gym equipment is often just as sturdy as brand new equipment, but at a fraction of the price. Many people get rid of equipment to make more room in their homes or because they don’t want to move it when they relocate. This is an opportune time for a bargain. Additionally, gyms that are moving or going out of business often hold fire sales.

Don’t:

  • Splurge on expensive and clunky equipment you may never use. It’s better to start small and work up to more expensive equipment as you expand your home gym. It can be tempting to purchase equipment because it sounds convenient, but it may turn into a bulky dust bunny cavern instead.
  • Set up a workout space in a room you rarely visit. When training at home, try to allocate an enjoyable space that feels like a sanctuary. Working out next to the washing machine or in a dank basement has less appeal than a cozy corner in the bedroom or a sunny spot on the patio.
  • Get too much too soon. Only purchase items you plan to use in the next few months. Wait to purchase heavier weights and more advanced equipment until you are ready to use it. Home gyms are meant to grow over time as you learn new exercises, increase strength, and become more proficient at training. Think of gym equipment as a reward for all that hard work. It feels great to go out and buy heavier kettlebells or a pull-up bar when those muscles get stronger.

The Home Gym Starter Kit

Bands

Resistance bands pack a lot of power into your workout without taking up space in your home. Exercise tubing, loop bands, mini bands, and power bands are just a few types of these affordable exercise tools. These bands are available in different levels of resistance: generally light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy.

Step bench

Aerobic step benches provide a useful platform that adds variety to your training. These sturdy surfaces aren’t just for step aerobics. Use them for step-ups, box squats, bench press, lateral lunges, incline push-ups, and so much more. For some moves, depending on the sturdiness of the piece of furniture, you can sub in a stool or chair you already have in your home.

Yoga mat

Not limited to yoga, a quality mat offers a padded, stable surface to perform floor exercises. Mats also protect your flooring from sweat and dirt that may build up while you exercise.

Kettlebells or dumbbells

Bodyweight exercises alone can build strength and endurance, but adding weight elevates training to a whole new level. Kettlebells and dumbbells each offer their own unique benefits to training, and both have pluses and minuses. Kettlebells require a slight learning curve, but once mastered, they often become a preferred resistance-training tool for many because a single kettlebell can be used for multiple exercises. Kettlebells are also more compact as they go up in weight, so a 30-pound kettlebell takes up less space than a 30-pound dumbbell.

Medicine balls

Another versatile resistance training tool, medicine balls can be used for explosive movements, core work, squats, and sports-specific training. Medicine balls come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. It’s best to research which type works best for the exercises you plan to incorporate into your workouts.

Pull-up bar

Though it can be added, a pull-up bar helps build a strong upper body and core. Bars can be mounted into the wall or hung from a doorframe and easily removed after each workout.

How I Use Technology To Stay Fit (As A Busy Mom)

With the continuous evolution of technology so many things we do on a daily are much easier now…including staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle if that’s what you’re into. Sure you can eat healthy…but are you eating the right portions? You can exercise….but are you getting enough and burning enough calories to make it effective?  You can go for daily walks with the goal of getting in so many steps. But how do you know exactly how many steps you’re getting and wouldn’t it be nice to track this daily? With techie devices such as fitness trackers and apps such as MyFitnessPal you can achieve all of these and more. I know because

MyFitnessPal

I love this app!  I mainly use it for the food diary where I track my meals on a daily basis.  This gives me visibility to what I’ve eaten and the calories I’ve taken in from the foods I ate, which is mainly what I want to track.  But I also like to use the nutrition view so I can see information such as how much fat, protein, and carbs I’ve consumed for the day.  This is very helpful to me with the protein information since I do not eat meat anymore (except for a little seafood every so often) because I want to make sure I’m still getting enough of it. Also, not all fats are bad but this view splits out the different types of fat we consume so I can see how much of the good and bad types I’m getting.  I also love that I can sync it to my fitness tracker and use it to track calories burned.  Additionally, MyFitnessPal will send you an alert when you have not logged in for the day to track your meals. So it reminds you to help you stay on track.

Fitbit Fitness Tracker

I’m fairly new to using a fitness tracker, which is a device that tracks daily movements contributing to calorie burn such as 

workouts and steps taken.  I’ve had my Fitbit Flex for a few months and I love it!  There are different types of Fitbits on the market but I chose the Flex version because of its slim design and simplicity (see my review of the Flex and Charge I had a chance to try out courtesy of Verizon).

This fitness tracker helps me track the number of steps I’ve taken and alerts me when I’ve reached 10,000 steps for the day (I always love it when my Flex vibrates letting me know I’ve reached this many steps!).  It also syncs easily to MyFitnessPal so I can also see how many calories I’ve burned for the day.  But there are a variety of fitness trackers from which you can choose.  There are even some that you can use online although you have to be consistent with entering your information since you aren’t wearing the device.  The options for fitness trackers are plentiful.

Virtual Accountability Group

I have a gym membership but I RARELY go to the gym.  As a matter of fact, I’ve lost more weight working out at home than I did when I was going to the gym up to 5 times a week.  But how was I able to stay on track with my fitness goals without going to the gym, attending a fitness class such as bootcamp, or working with a personal trainer?  And how was I able to spend under $150 to lose the weight and inches in a month?  I joined a virtual accountability group.  These groups are on the rise and social media outlets such as Facebook make them easily accessible to people who may live near you or even those who may be geographically far from you.  In the Facebook group I joined, they had a monthly fitness challenge I participated in that helped me lose over 12 pounds and inches in a month….after being at a plateau for a couple of months while attending the gym prior to joining the group.  Read my post here on why I think these groups are the way to go if while on your fitness journey you’re looking to save money and eliminate the need to commute to a gym or other fitness facility.

YouTube

Yep, YouTube definitely makes my list of go-to’s for staying fit! Although I have a fairly decent collection of workout videos I do at home, YouTube helps me add the variety I need.  There are SO MANY workouts to choose from on YouTube that you are guaranteed to find what you’re looking for.  I love to search for specific type of workouts such as something that is short and easy designed for the abs, arms, and legs.  I typically stick with my workout videos for longer exercises.  So YouTube helps me to mix it up while also saving me money since I don’t have to pay for their videos.  I am also planning to start recording YouTube workout and foodie videos so look out for me!

Other Fitness Apps

Running was very challenging for me to do in the beginning.  I wanted to get better at it because I knew it would help me shed body fat and is overall a great way to get and stay in shape.  So when I got really serious about becoming a decent runner I downloaded an app that would help me…Ease Into 5k.  Today, I normally run 20-30 minutes and it comes fairly easy to me.  Ease Into 5k helped me build up to that by starting me out in very short intervals of walking and running while steadily increasing the intervals so I could get accustomed to running longer.  I highly recommend this or other run apps such as Nike and Couch to 5k if you want to get better at running.  After a few weeks of using these apps consistently you will probably be surprised at how much easier running becomes for you.

can eliminate the need for you to pay a personal trainer who may charge a few hundred for a handful of sessions or joining the gym that you have to travel to after a long day at work.  If you haven’t already you can get started now by simply downloading a fitness app on your phone.  So give it a try and hopefully you’ll make it a part of your lifestyle.

A Fitness Tech Diva

Ok so I recently had the awesome opportunity to try out the Fitbit Blaze courtesy of Verizon Wireless!  I will start by saying that I’m a Fitbit Flex owner but I absolutely fell in love with the Fitbit Blaze….I really did not want to have to send it back!  I definitely plan to purchase one very soon.  Ok so I want to give you a simple review of the Fitbit Blaze based on my experience with it.  So I’ll give the good and the bad (although I don’t have much bad to say about it at all).  Read on!

Fitness Meets Fashion!

Fitbit BlazeOne of my least fave things about the Fitbit Flex (and a number of other wearable fitness trackers I’ve seen) is that it isn’t that appealing to look at.  For example, when I’m going out in my cute outfit the Flex can be a bit of an eye soar sometimes.  But it serves its purpose.  Then comes the Fitbit Flex!  This savvy-looking smartwatch gave my Fossil watch some competition…I didn’t even wear my Fossil as much! And although the Blaze I tried out was not a color I’d normally pick for a watch (blue) the band can get switched out for a different color. They even have one that is a metal link band, which is similar to my watch!  But I will say that for some the design of the watch may be a bit much…everyone is not into the “big-faced” watch and that’s what the Blaze looks like.  But I still think it is a “cute smartwatch”…something that has been needed for a while especially from the Fitbit line of products.  So finally Fitbit has nicely married fitness and fashion!

Fitness Meets Tech!

I love the look of the Fitbit Blaze but I also love the data it provides.  This smartwatch comes with a good number of features including a colorful touchscreen, stopwatch functionality, automatic tracking of sleep and heart rate, and of course my favorites, the step and calorie counter.  Additionally, the Fitbit Blaze also shows when you receive calls and can be used as an alarm.  I also thought it was really cool to have the ability to receive text messages on it.  Overall, I was pleased with the features the Fitbit Blaze offers and the data it provides to help me track my daily fitness activity.    

Some additional tidbits:

  • Didn’t care too much for the packaging the Fitbit Blaze came in and I actually had a hard time taking it out of the type surrounding it was in (maybe that was just me though)
  • Definitely a bit of a learning curve but a very, very small one in my opinion…some of the features I did not use (almost nice to have more than what you need though, right?)
  • The screen of the Fitbit Blaze smartwatch looks very nice but I was a bit worried at times about scratching or even cracking it.  I’m sure they have some type of screen protectors that are available for them that I just haven’t looked into yet (definitely will do so when I purchase my own).
  • I didn’t really get the built-in workouts it came with and thought they could have left this feature out.  But maybe it helps those most who are just getting started with their fitness journey and working out.

Other than that, I think the Fitbit Blaze is an EXCELLENT product!  And for all the comes with it the price isn’t bad at all, either.  Check it out at Verizon Wireless (http://www.verizonwireless.com/accessories/fitbit-blaze-smart-fitness-watch-black-large/) now only for $179 this month! If you decide to get it I’m sure you’ll like it just as much as I do!