Much like the 2020 toilet paper scramble many of us faced in the spring, home gym equipment has been another hot commodity in recent months. With gyms across the nation closed due to mandates, people have been challenged to figure out ways to exercise at home. That’s not a bad thing. Exercising at home can be a great option especially if you start with equipment that offers a lot of variability and continues to challenge you as your fitness improves.
Happily you don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for the greatest indoor bike or multi-purpose weight machine. Some of the best and most versatile equipment isn’t that expensive and will give you a huge return in terms of variability. So, in no particular order, here are my top three must-haves for every home gym and the ones I recommend my remote clients purchase for our workouts.
- 1-2 Kettlebells – Typically made of cast iron with a handle at the top, kettlebells can be used for lunges, squats, overhead pressing, rows, swings, turkish get-ups and much more! It is important not only to choose the right weight, but to make sure that whatever exercise you choose is familiar to you. Watching reputable trainers online is a great way to get acquainted with some of the exercises. You can always try the exercise without the weight and then gradually incorporate it once you are confident with your form and technique. Price-wise, kettlebells typically start about $2/pound. Depending on your exercise level and experience the weight that is right for you will vary. For relatively fit and strong beginners who have some previous experience with kettlebells, a 20- or 25-pound KB could be a good starting point. Note: Kettlebells are virtually indestructible so buying them used is a suitable option.
- TRX Suspension Trainer – It is hard to express how much I love the TRX suspension trainer. A suspension trainer is a workout tool that uses straps with handles which you attach to an anchor point to allow you to do exercises against your body weight. Initially designed by a Navy SEAL Squad Commander out of a Jiu Jitsu belt and parachute webbing this trainer has evolved, but the same portable, lightweight, and highly effective design remains. You can anchor the TRX in the ceiling, use a doorway, loop it around a tree outside. One of the features I love about this piece of equipment is not only that there are so many different ways to use it, but because of how you position your body it is effective for all levels of fitness (not just the Navy SEAL type!.) It’s lightweight and very portable so you can use it indoors or outside. The TRX website also has free on demand and live classes from master TRX trainers that anyone can access. The TRX Home Gym 2 typically lists for $199.
- Jump Rope – I love a good old school jump rope for getting your heart rate up between strength exercises – it’s especially useful on rainy days when you can’t get outside to run around a bit. When it comes to finding the rope that is right for you, look for one that is relatively lightweight and be sure to measure it and adjust it properly. If you stand on the middle of the jump rope with one foot, the handles should come just over your shoulders. That will give you the most efficient jump which keeps your hands close to your hips without making large movements with your arms.
Kris Jackson is a certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer with a specialties Behavior Change in Fitness Nutrition through the American Council on Exercise. As the founder of n8Longevity, an app-based virtual health coaching service focused on nutritional accountability, Kris helps clients live long and healthy lives by focusing on food, fitness, and lifestyle choices.