BBQ Sides

Okay, it’s February. How’s that resolution to shed 10 pounds going? Rev up the resolve with the hottest home exercise trends. Read on and you’ll find everything you need to get fit without spending a ton, plus some good tips for setting up a home gym, even in a small amount of space.

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Three Easy Pieces

Skip the honking big fitness machines that end up as expensive clothes racks. The trend is back-to-basics with a focus on developing strength and using body-weight exercises to achieve it. That means less emphasis on machines and equipment. With just a few pieces, you can set up a home fitness center you’ll actually use. Here’s what you’ll need:

Stability Ball

Great for targeting your major muscle groups – abs, back, chest, arms, legs – stability balls can be used to over 40 exercises including crunches, squats, push-ups, rows and curls. They come in a range of dimensions appropriate for your height: 45cm under 5’, 55cm for 5’ – 5.7’, and 65cm for 5.8’ to 6.3’.They usually include a hand pump, and you’ll want to make sure you maintain the proper inflation to avoid injury. Get a complete list of ball exercises with motion animation to make sure you’re doing them right here.

Hand Weights

A set of hand weights is perfect for toning your arms (especially that part that starts to jiggle after 40). They can also intensify crunches and squats. Start with light weights (1 or 2 pounds) and work up to heavier weights as you gain strength. I found a pretty good video demonstrating proper technique for several basic exercises here.

Resistance Bands

Available in a variety of color-coded sizes, lengths and strengths, these inexpensive elastic bands are the ultimate portable gym. You build and tone your muscles by making them work harder against the band’s resistance to your effort. Get a printable workout chart and watch the 20-minute workout video here.

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Setting Up Your Home Fitness Center

Pick a place you like to be. If you hate the way your basement or garage looks (or smells), don’t work out there. You want the atmosphere to match your exercise style. If you’re doing yoga, it should be a place that’s suitable for contemplation (e.g., not next to the kids’ video game console). Sleep experts advise against using your bedroom for exercise. Apparently seeing that unused treadmill will make you feel guilty and keep you tossing and turning at night. If you have a spare bedroom, that’s ideal. But even a corner in the family room will work. Just make sure there’s enough room to stretch out and extend your arms or legs without banging into anything. The American Council on Exercise provides these guidelines for exercise equipment space usage:

  • Treadmill – 30 sq. ft. 
  • Stationary bike – 10 sq. ft. 
  • Single-station gym – 35 sq. ft. 
  • Rowing machine – 20 sq. ft. 

That’s a lot of square footage. Makes those hand weights, stability ball and resistance bands even more attractive, don’t you think? You can pretty much stash them in a hall closet. Just don’t forget they’re in there.

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