January 2014

The Home Gym

Author: Rebecca Edwards

The party is over and ’tis the season to get in shape. No more advent calendar chocolates. No more bourbon and eggnogs. No more turkey eat-a-ramas. And “no more excuses,” said Jen Edwards of SWEAT fitness. Edwards has been helping people reach their goals since she became a certified group fitness instructor 15 years ago.

“Fitness has always been my passion. I would be a very unhappy person without it in my life. Fitness helps my mood and helps me be a better wife and mother. I love it for myself, and I enjoy helping other people love it, too.”

One look at Edwards’ fit body and you will say, “Sign me up coach.” Yet, chances are something is holding you back. “I work 24-7.” “I can’t afford a gym membership.” Or, “I don’t have childcare.” Remember, Edwards is here to remind you, “No more excuses.” She can strong-arm each of the aforementioned excuses away with two words: home gym.

“With a home gym, you have the convenience of working out on your own time, and it stops you from coming up with excuses, like time or money. A home gym is affordable and effective,” she said. For as little as $180 (see Edward’s must haves below), you can whip any room into shape and reach your fitness goals this New Year.

Edwards’s Top 10 Home Gym Must Haves:

1. Resistance band. Get bulk bands that are 25- to 100-feet long and you can cut them to fit your needs. Also, bands range in weight from extra light, to heavy, extra heavy and ultra-heavy, so you might want to buy a few so you have options. Cost: $25-$50

2. Stability ball. Master all sort of Pilates-inspired exercises on this inflatable ticket to a toned tummy. Cost: $35-$45

3. Medicine or resistance ball. We’re talking squats, oblique exercises and coordination drills. Think of these power-packed orbs as fitness bombs. Cost: $30-$60 (medicine ball); $13 (resistance ball)

4. Kettle bell. This bowling-ball-with-handles-looking contraption combines a cardiovascular workout and a full-body strength workout at the same time. Cost: $26-$37

5. Dumbbells. You can go simple here and just get 2, 5, and 10 lbs., or you can go big and get a “power block.” Cost: $25-$40 (weights); $185 (power block)

6. Jump rope. Channel your inner Rocky. Cost: $5-$25

7. Yoga mat. There are expensive mats and inexpensive mats. When it comes to home gyming-it, feel free to keep it cheap. Cost: $20-$80.

8. Sound system. Edwards believes, “Music comes first and foremost” and recommends a decent sound system. Chances are you already have a computer, iPod, iPad or other means of cranking out some tone-up tunes. Cost: $0

9. Chairs and stairs. Good news, you don’t need to buy this either (unless you live in a one-story house, in which case try using a bench). Cost: $0

10. Fitness DVDs. Edwards created two SWEAT DVDs (SWEAT Total Body Burn and SWEAT More!, which you can purchase on SWEAT’s Facebook page). “DVDs give you motivational guidance from expert instructors and provide less risk for injury,” Edwards said. Cost: $26 (for the SWEAT DVD package); $0 with a Netflix account
Note: Product costs vary with size and weight. For a complete source of exercise equipment, check out power-systems.com.

Another trendy piece of equipment is the TRX, a suspension strap that is good for pull-ups and other moves that target the upper body. And if you were to invest in one piece of pricey exercise equipment, Edwards recommends you get a treadmill or spin bike. Go Tri Sports owner and triathlete Al Olivetti says you can also convert your outdoor bike into an indoor stationary one with a cycling device known as a trainer. Go Tri Sports on New Orleans Road sells trainers, as well as exercise shoes and other apparel, heart rate monitors, and therapeutic equipment like foam rollers and massage sticks. For Olivetti, a room or even your backyard is all you need to be in good shape. “No fees. No walls. Just be fit. That’s where I’m coming from,” said Olivetti, whose site gotrisports.com will tell you everything you need to know about running, cycling or swimming products, as well as upcoming races and athletic events.

With their Facebook pages, both SWEAT and Go Tri Sports can also help you feel like you are part of a fitness community even when you are mostly exercising from home. Women might also want to check out Fit Chics Move and The Boob Group on Facebook to schedule walks, runs or whatever.

For me, with three small children and a heavy workload, my only option was to work out from home, but it left me feeling a little lonely. Plus, other people motivate me to work harder. It turns out some other women in my neighborhood felt the same way, so we devised a plan: Each week one of us would be the host and plan five 30- to 45-minute workouts that we would do either at our home or outside. Everyone was responsible for her own gear, and after each session we would finish with a cup of tea or coffee and walk a mile around the neighborhood. I had to drop out of the group due to an injury, but the rest of the ladies are still going strong and even do a yearly cleanse together and exchange healthy recipes.

For those of you without a square inch to spare, don’t stop reading now. Remember no excuses. “Not everyone has the luxury of an extra 250 square feet,” Edwards said. “Put your equipment in a bin under the bed or other storage place. When it’s time to work out, bring the bin into a useable space like the family room and, bam, you have a home gym.”

Edwards also suggests putting your equipment and outfit out the night before and setting your alarm 30 minutes early so that you can crank out a quick 20-minute workout first thing in the morning. “You can even sleep in your outfit. Again, no excuses!” Edwards joked.

The secret to keeping on an exercise routine is being creative. “Variety is so important,” Edwards said. “Use your surroundings. Stairs are good for plyometric hops or running up and down. Walls are good for wall squats.” To get inspiration, try leafing through a fitness magazine, surfing YouTube, or checking out one of the many fitness shows On Demand. And to burn fat, Edwards wants you to “HIIT it” (HIIT stands for high intensity interval training). “Muscle confusion is key,” she said. “Otherwise, if you do the same movements your body becomes efficient in burning calories and begins to burn fewer and fewer.” 

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