With winter approaching and uncertainty at Toronto gyms, try assembling your own way to work out
Although gyms were given the green light to reopen last month in Stage 3 (with increased safety measures), many people still don’t feel comfortable going. And with autumn approaching, outdoor exercise may soon become more difficult. So if you’re looking to stay active during the colder months, and with the possibility of a second wave, here are some home gym essentials.
A good firm mat or two is essential if you’re doing any sort of exercise at home. It will protect your hips, knees and spine. And if you’re using dumbbells (see below), mats will cushion the shock when you drop them. (Your downstairs neighbours will be grateful, too.) Even if you’ve got wall-to-wall carpeting, you don’t want to perspire all over that broadloom, causing unsightly stains and permanent smells. If you can get mats that fold or roll up easily to be put away when not in use, all the better. And if you have some extra space – perhaps in the corner of a room – why not designate it a workout area and lay down some foam flooring, especially if you’re working with heavy weights? Remember to clean the surfaces after each use – you’ll probably already have sanitizer or disinfectant on hand.
Who needs bulky weights when you can strengthen, tone and shape your body with light, portable exercise bands? They come in different thicknesses, with handles or without. But when used properly (be careful you don’t slap yourself in the face!), they can exercise pretty much any muscle group. In other words: definite home gym essentials.
These unusual-looking items – which look like little bowling balls with handles – are now a staple in most gyms. And no wonder. Available in different sizes, they’re perfect for strength training, cardiovascular exercise and increasing flexibility. Tired of using simply your body weight for squats? Add kettlebells. Does lifting free weights seem unnatural? Curl using kettlebells, instead. Gripping them mimics the way your body does real-life activities. So learning how to use them is intuitive. Plus they’re easy to store. Oh, and in a pinch they make good doorstops.
For the home gym aficionado, pushups are one of the best compound exercises around. But the simple addition of a pushup stand attacks your muscles at different angles, putting less stress on your joints and giving you a lot more variety. And as everyone knows, variety is important so you don’t get tired of your home gym workout routine. A cheap, easily storable addition to your list of home gym essentials.
One of the main reasons people are missing the gym is to use the wide selection of barbells and free weights. But think about it. Those items are handled by lots of people and they’re difficult to properly sanitize. So why not buy your own to put your mind at ease? You can buy individual dumbbells, of course. But adjustable sets are cheaper and handy to target different muscles, and as you get stronger, you can adjust the weights. With some adjustable sets, you can even connect two dumbbell bars to become a barbell! Added bonus: you don’t have to worry about that obnoxious gymrat grunting nearby.
Exercising with medicine balls goes back to the time of ancient gladiators. The spheres, which come in various sizes and weights, are great to encourage stability, exercise that hard-to-target core and improve balance. If you have a wall you can throw them against (again: respect your neighbours), it’s very satisfying. If you buy different sizes, invest in a tree to hold them all to avoid accidents.
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Sure, your space might be too small to house these big inflated exercise balls, perfect for encouraging stability and balance. But maybe you can make one double as an office chair, to give you some exercise while you’re working from home?
Without a treadmill or stationary bike (who has the space or money?), one of the next best ways to get quality cardiovascular exercise is with a simple jumping rope. The best ropes come with adjustable handles and lengths, and don’t get all tangled up. Before you know it, you’ll be ready for your Creed or Rocky moment.
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