A few years before the pandemic, I decided I wanted to build a home gym. For the first time in year, I had space for one – the kids no longer had “toys”, preferring instead to be on electronics or out with friends. I was tired of paying for a gym membership, and even though the gym was less than a mile from my house, I had a hard time finding time to get over there as my work life got busier. And of course, I’ve been so glad to have it during the pandemic.
Here are the five things I use multiple times a week…
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- Bowflex bike – This is the newest addition to my home gym. I’ve had a “deskbike” for years, but I finally bit the bullet and chose a spin bike. I’m not big on attending classes (in person or online) and I never use the iFit subscription for my treadmill, so I opted not to purchase a Peloton or some other bike with a screen. Currently, none of those screens allow you to stream Netfix or Hulu or the like. Had that been an option, I may have made a different choice. But after a ton of research, I decided the Bowflex C6 (or it’s identical Schwinn IC4) was the best option for me. A month into ownership, I still feel the same. (The bike does work with various apps and your own tablet or phone if you are so inclined.)
- A weight bench – While this is certainly not a necessity for a home gym if you are space limited, my current relationship with my bench is something along the lines of “where have you been all my life?” Like the bike, this was a pandemic purchase, so it took a while to get, but it has definitely taken my strength workouts to a new level. I’m loving the Valor bench I got – it’s easily adjustable, stable, and my kid put it together for me in a very short amount of time.
- Strength bands – Did you know you can replicate nearly every strength move with bands instead of weights? The strength workouts I do show both weights and band options for every workout. When we’ve traveled, I’ve been able to throw in bands and still get all my workouts in. I have both the “mini bands” and resistance bands with handles as well as a cloth band that works well for lateral movements. The combination allows for a full body workout that rivals a gym workout.
- Free weights and kettlebells – Over the years I have gathered weights ranging from 1 pound to 20 pounds. Occasionally I wish I had a 25 or 30 pound dumbbell or kettlebell, but those are hot commodities these days! Here’s a trick I’ve learned to add weight: combine your biggest weight with one of the mini bands or resistance bands and you are dealing with a whole new level of difficulty!
- Stability ball – This comes in handy for both stability/balance work and for strength work. It can replace the weight bench if you don’t have one, and depending on how inflated you have it, it adds core work to pretty much every move. (Slightly under inflate if your core can’t handle that level of challenge.)
I am very fortunate that I’ve been building my gym for years and have lots of options. I still love my Nordictrack Commercial treadmill, but it sees considerably less action these days because the weather generally allows for running outside. I’m finding that now that I’ve passed the “50” mark, my body needs a lot more strength training and cross training to stay injury free, so having a robust home gym is one of the best things I could do for myself.