Gym memberships carry quite the cost these days, and specialized exercise studios come with a hefty price tag. Plus, with the amount of free workout content on social media and the internet, it’s easy to have a quality fitness routine in the comfort of your home. It’s no wonder, then, that more and more people are turning to at-home workouts.
So, how can you build an at-home gym that both inspires you and enables you to reach your fitness goals? With so much fancy equipment out there, it can be overwhelming to decide which workout tools you really need. We’ve listed out the best basic gym equipment for your at-home fitness space.
Workout or Yoga Mat
First and foremost, you need some cushion beneath you – especially for floor exercises and stretches. The last thing you want is to bruise your back when you do sit-ups or knick your floor when you accidentally drop a weight. Plus, for those of you who have downstairs neighbors, the cushion of a mat can help absorb some noise you make.
Workout mats are easily found online or at department stores. While any mat will do the trick, quality yoga mats will last you longer and stop you from slipping.
You might be wondering why resistance bands come before free weights on our list. Well, here’s the thing: resistance bands let you train with resistance in multiple ranges of motion and provide constant tension. Free weights depend on gravity, but with resistance bands, you can move sideways, or even down, against resistance, letting you challenge your muscles in different ways. Constant tension has you feeling the burn, and it’s harder to use momentum to cheat movements like you can with dumbbells (which also helps with injury prevention!).
If you aren’t sure where to start with resistance bands, check out NouFlex’s various options, like our all-in-one NouFlex Training System, our High Bar that is easily used with a door frame, or our packable mini-bands.
Whether they’re dumbbells or kettlebells, free weights unlock a lot of exercise potential – especially when combined with resistance bands. We recommend starting with one or two pairs of dumbbells between 5 and 15 pounds if you’re a newbie to weights. Once you’ve gotten stronger, you can buy heavier dumbbells, or simply hold both dumbbells in one hand to create more resistance. If you’re seasoned in the gym, get the dumbbell weights that you can do the most exercises with.
Recovery is just as important as training. It lets you keep doing what you’re doing while feeling good! Foam rollers help you loosen tight muscles before workouts, and can speed up your recovery when you use one after you exercise.
But that’s not all. Foam rollers can be used as exercise tools, too! For an advanced core move, rest your forearms on a roller and roll your arms back and forth with control as you hold a steady plank.
If you have money to spare and you’ve already gotten the above workout essentials, it could be the right time to experiment with a cardio machine. Cardio machines can be used in circuits, for activity-specific training, or as a simple way to get movement in your day. We recommend getting the machine that you want to use most, whether that’s a rower, treadmill, or bike. These machines can be especially helpful when the weather is too poor to get your steps in outside!
This one is not about judging yourself as you workout. It’s about checking your form and making sure you’re doing movements correctly, in order to decrease your chance for injury and increase the effectiveness of your routine. For example, you might think you’re sitting back in your squat, but a mirror could reveal that you’re putting all your weight on your toes and putting your knees at risk. Plus, seeing yourself as you put in the work can be motivating and inspiring!
We understand that some people may feel self-conscious in front of a mirror. If mirrors are triggering or upsetting, you may consider omitting the mirror temporarily or permanently. But, if you don’t mind a mirror, consider putting it in your fitness space.
Bonus: Workout Subscription for Inspiration and Guidance
Like I said earlier, there is a ton of free workout content out there. As awesome as it is, it can be difficult to tell which content is quality, made by professional personal trainers, and will get you results. Our NouFlex Virtual library is created by our Nouflex-certified personal trainers, who also have certifications from other nationally-accredited programs. WIth videos ranging from bodyweight circuits and resistance workouts to stretching and cardio, we offer something for everyone. Take a look at our virtual membership here!