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It’s true. The Doors knew it. You know it. Strange days have found us. Where we once were able to go freely from gym to gym and studio to studio for exercise and training, we're now looking for ways to build our own home gyms to maintain our once-rigorous workout schedule. The home gym has been a topic of conversation for some time, especially now, when at-home fitness routines have become the norm, and we’ve all taken to our own form of personal training. (I mean, who else is going to push you to do one more squat in your living room if you’re not motivated to do it yourself? Luckily, there is a cure for that, but let’s save that for another time.)
If you’re lucky enough to find a dumbbell these days, congrats. Same goes for resistance bands, adjustable bench press machines, and really any form of certified home gym equipment... The market has been depleted, Amazon is sold out, and even the rentals from your favorite gym are probably gone. That said, you’re probably wondering, “How do I get crafty? What are some weirder gym equipment solutions that could work? How do I still get my exercise on if my home gym is just a yoga mat in my single-room loft?” Ah, my friend, we have the fitness solutions you need right here. So, buckle up, break out your paper plates (you’ll see why in a second), grab a bottle of wine (not for that), and get ready for some new weight training, cardio, and strength-building routines that only require what’s around your house currently (and an open mind).
These are the top 10 at-home gym equipment ideas (plus 3 extra because we love you):
According to Healio, off-premise alcohol sales were up 55% in the third week of March 2020 (compared to the same time last year), which means, you may have either some full (or empty) bottles of your favorite vintage lying around.
With your wine bottle, you can recreate almost all your weight training exercises, from squat thrusts and chest presses, to kettlebell swings (careful not to drop it) and medicine ball passes.
When “this all started,” you no doubt went out and bought more than a few cans of soup for good measure and “just in case.” Maybe you got what you wanted and went through your cans already, but if you’re like me and now have off-brand SpaghettiOs's sitting in your cupboard, you can put those to use in your home gym.
Try holding a few cans when doing bicep curls, shoulder sculpts, and even in your cardio routine. Why not take your soup for a run and hold a few cans next time you sneak in a few-mile run? Talk about making training delicious, amirite?
As stated, finding dumbbells online right now can prove to be a little difficult. This should, of course, not deter you from still getting your squat on and your strength training in order.
Grab a couple of books, ranging in page count (and, therefore, weight), and try a literary bench press or two. We heard that Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick specifically because it made for the perfect goblet squat weight when you’re without actual home gym equipment. (NOTE: This fact has not been verified.) Now, you add War & Peace to the mix of home gym necessities, and you’re going to be seeing the tone in no time.
You’re going to have to wash your clothes at some point, right? Whether it’s every single time you leave your house and come back, or every-so-often, you’re going to go through laundry detergent. So, using it as one of your adjustable weight substitutes is quite convenient.
Detergent too heavy for another squat rep? Time to do the delicates. Still too heavy for a 10-set bench press? Try the heavy-duty cycle. Without proper exercise equipment, your linens may be cleaner than they have ever been before. Silver linings, right?
If you don’t have a dumbbell at your ready (and don’t want to spend the money right now), grab a backpack or a reusable grocery bag and fill it up to add weight to your favorite exercises. Curls? Yes. Rows? Definitely. Another option: add a bit of extra weight to other movements like squats, lunges, and push-ups by wearing your filled backpack.
A barbell works great at the gym but is much harder to store and use at home. So, if you’re missing exercises like deadlifts, chest presses, or rows, grab a suitcase, fill it up, and get to work. Pro tip: When you’re able to travel again (hopefully soon), you can use this on-the-go piece of “equipment” in your hotel room or at the airport.
Personally, my dogs have always been a source of cardio. Even if I have proper home gym equipment, I walk my dogs two times a day just to get out of the house and get my blood moving. Since COVID-19 started, I have been walking them three to four times per day. And, when I get bored, I’m now trying to use them as weights, given they’re both around 70 pounds.
Sliders are a great workout and crucial to many fitness routines. If your home gym is without official sliders, grab a few paper plates and get to work.
Find a carpeted space if you can, throw those plates down, and try out some sliding burpees, side slide climbs, and sliding thigh slimmers. For safety, please do not eat off the plates afterward.
If you have hardwood or tiled floors, paper plates may not move easily. Instead, try dish towels or even paper towels (if you can find them at Costco) to get your slide on.
Head to your local hardware store to find the right length(s) for you. Most of the time, bungees are rounded—so make sure you secure them, so they don't roll. Step on top, then use the cords to add resistance to curls, rows, and shoulder presses.
Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, Muhammad-Ali-from-home style. No, you don't need a bag to get a great boxing workout. Instead, focus on form, watch yourself in the mirror, and go for it. Brace your core while you jab and uppercut your way to toned arms.
Need to stretch out your muscles after a good workout? Don’t have a resistance band or bungee cords? Enter leggings. We all have an old pair laying around somewhere, and the best part? They’re soft and stretchy.
Rachel Simhon of Bodyworks DW even used a pair of leggings to help out one of her clients virtually: "I did some jaw releases with [a client] and showed her how to move her neck with some support of like different tools that she had around. We used a pair of leggings—we improvised with a lot of different household objects to try to get her a little bit of relief."
Long story short, get creative. Wrap that bad boy around your foot and stretch those hammys to the sky, and maybe just book an appointment with Bodyworks (under “Appointments” and “Video Visits”) if you want to use it on your neck...
Sometimes home gym equipment does more than just bolster your strength training routine. In fact, if you have an emotional bond with your home gym, your kids should fit nicely into your exercise scenarios.
Depending on their age, you can find a range of workouts to do with your kids. Have infants? Try bicep curls with them in their car seats. Toddlers? Just chase them around and feel the cardio burn. Preteens? Might as well call them “resistance bands” because getting them to do anything will be a lesson in patience. Teens and up? Incorporate them into your daily exercise. Pull-up bar challenges are always fun as a family, right?
Finally, when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, you just need yourself. So long as you maintain motivation and determination, you can view yourself as your own home gym with every piece of equipment you need to work out attached. Whether it be air squats, Chaturangas, or bicycle crunches, bodyweight is the new equipment.
While the times are trying, silver linings are presenting themselves daily. Remember: keeping an open and motivated mind, as well as digging into your ingenuity and creativity, can help sustain you and your health—both mental and physical. Home gym or not, the equipment is right there.
Want to book a virtual workout and try out your new “equipment”? Browse Mindbody to find classes!
If you’re a commitment-phobe like me, you probably understand the stress of searching for the perfect gym or studio membership. When offices were open and I commuted to and from work, I especially struggled. Do I find a studio near work or home? If it’s near my office, I can go after work, but what about weekends? I don’t want to do that commute when I don’t have to!
Then, add on the fitness type decision and try not to let your head explode. What if I get bored of cycling and want to try something else? What if I get super sore after HIIT and need a yoga class? Do I need to become a member at multiple locations?
Maybe this is just a me problem... but I don’t think it is. I mean, that’s why the Mindbody app exists in the first place—so you can try out different classes and studios, commitment-free. Although it’d be nice if one membership could cover multiple fitness types, at some point, picking your favorite and committing just makes sense.
So, how do you choose the perfect gym membership for you?
What are you looking for in a gym, studio, or health club? What do you care most about? Is it a smaller, intimate workout setting with instructors who know you by name? A larger studio with tons of fitness classes throughout the day, so you can always find one to fit your schedule? What about the staff? Are there certain qualities you’re looking for in your instructors? Do you prefer soft encouragement while you exercise, or instructors who aren’t afraid to push you harder during training? Think about your routine. Do you prefer morning classes or evening? Are you looking for 30-minute, high-intensity classes you can squeeze in on your lunch break? Or longer, slower-paced classes to wind down after work? There are so many different factors that can affect your choice in studio, and with so many options, you can get pretty specific.
What do you want from a studio that you just aren’t quite satisfied with at home? Think about your fitness goals. Maybe you get your cardio in the form of running outside, and you need some help with strength training. Maybe you invested in a fully decked out weight room in your garage when COVID-19 hit, but now you’re looking for a yoga studio to help with recovery.
With all those options out there, it can be hard to even know where to start. So, asking yourself questions like these is a good first step.
When it comes to picking a monthly membership, of course, budget is important. Sit down with your spreadsheet, or app, or whatever the hell you use to budget your monthly spending and see what you can afford to shuffle around. Wellness is an investment, not just a one-time purchase, and weaving it into your monthly budget will help you prioritize it.
Once you’ve determined how much you’re willing to spend per month, decide if you want any of that to be left over for the occasional drop-in class. You may want to spend most of it on a membership but keep a little extra for those days you’re feeling adventurous and want to try a new workout. Or maybe you’re a creature of habit, and you’re fine with just sticking to your favorite. That’s fine too! Just be sure to make those decisions early and factor them in while budgeting.
Lots of studios on Mindbody provide Intro Offers, or special deals for new clients only that allow you to try out some classes at a lower rate. For example, some studios (like VibeFlow yoga in San Diego) offer your first class free, and others give discounted rates for your first 2 weeks or a month. When I was looking for a yoga studio to join, I tried just about every Intro Offer in my area. It’s a great way to save money and try out local studios before committing. Plus, it got me out of my comfort zone! I got to try so many different types of yoga before deciding which I liked best. Every instructor, studio, and class is so unique and different—it’s fun to get a feel for all the different mini fitness communities within your own larger one.
For those that don’t have any new client deals, you can check to see if they have Last-Minute Offers. These are drop-in deals for one-time classes, that fluctuate in price depending on timing, number of spots left, etc. So basically, if there’s a class in your area that starts in an hour and still has several spots left, odds are, you’ll be able to join that class for a lower drop-in rate!
And if you’re not quite ready to head back into the studio—or if those in your area have not yet reopened—another great way to try before you buy is virtual classes. Many studios offer live stream and on demand workout classes on Mindbody, so you can get a feel for the classes and instructors from the comfort (and safety) of your home.
I know I told you to identify your needs in step one. Find out exactly what you’re looking for a studio to provide. But, when it comes to picking a membership, it’s important to be flexible (and I’m not just talking about your yoga class). While identifying your needs is a great first step to narrowing down your options, you may find that while trying out different studios, those needs totally change.
In my case, I thought I really wanted a membership to a hot yoga studio, but when I branched out and tried one that didn’t offer heated classes, I found a different kind of yoga environment I really enjoyed (and, of course, this made it really difficult to choose). On top of that, I was new to yoga and a little nervous about how I looked in class. I wanted a larger studio where I could hang in the back and try not to be noticed. But then, during my second or third week of class using an Intro Offer at a smaller studio, the man at the front desk greeted me by name, and my perspective totally changed. I went into class and laid out my mat in the front row, ready for the instructor to give me tips for improvement—and I’m better for it.
All of this to say, you never know what you’re going to find when it comes to trying new things. Have your list of wants and priorities, but don’t be afraid to tear it up and start over—and enjoy learning about yourself along the way.
So, if you’re ready to face your fear of commitment and settle down with your soulmate studio, now you have somewhere to start. Whether you’re trying to be more cost-effective, craving a community, or just need a good old-fashioned routine your life, a membership is a great way to consistently prioritize your wellness. Not only that, but you get the awesome benefit of joining a fitness community where you’ll see faces you recognize, meet some workout buddies, and be encouraged by instructors to keep improving in your practice. So where do I sign up?
Book classes on Mindbody to get started.