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A busy life doesn’t have to mean no exercise. With some basic equipment, you can have quick and effective at-home workouts. This list of fitness gear is great for getting started with home workouts, or as a gift guide for busy women.
My nostrils flared as I inhaled sharply, lengthening my spine and sucking my stomach in. My knuckles turned white as I tugged both sides together, but it was no use.
Those jeans wouldn’t button.
How did I let this happen? I asked myself. But I already knew the answer.
When I talk to my friends about exercise, the same thing always comes up: Not enough time. With jobs, kids, a house to take care of, and a million other things to do, it makes sense.
But who suffers when you skip working out?
Who Suffers When You Don’t Work Out?
The answer? Everyone.
You suffer because you are missing out on the benefits of regular exercise. If someone offered you more energy, better health, reduced risk of disease, less stress, better-fitting clothes, and a more positive self-image, would you turn them down?
I didn’t think so. But that’s what you’re saying “no” to when you say “no” to exercise.
Your family also suffers. Maybe you have trouble keeping up with your kids when they play outside. Maybe you’re so tired at the end of a long day, you don’t feel like you’re being the best mom and wife you can be.
But guess what? Exercise might be able to help change that. As WebMD states, exercise can give you more energy and help you set a healthy example for your kids.
So yes, both you and your family benefit when you exercise. But now we’re back to, “I don’t have time.”
The Time is There… You Have to Find it
I know what you’re thinking. I don’t have time to go to the gym, either.
But one day I realized that I do a lot of sitting on my butt at home – watching TV, reading, waiting for dinner to cook. I started working out a little at a time. I exercised while catching up on my DVR shows. While waiting for the laundry to finish in the dryer. Or a quick, 20-minute workout before bed.
The first few times, my lungs seared with pain. Agony screamed up my leg muscles with every move. It was HARD.
But it was WORTH IT.
Those little 20-minute workouts didn’t give me a shimmering, flawless beach body. But I felt better. I had more energy. And yeah, I was able to get those jeans to button again. And isn’t feeling better what it’s all about?
Awesome Gear for Quick Home Workouts
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m all about quick, simple solutions. (I spend a mere 30 minutes a day keeping my home clean). Working out at home requires minimal time, little money, and next to zero hassle. That is, of course, if you have the right gear! You don’t need a membership to a fancy gym, expensive equipment, or intensive, intimidating workouts to get fit in the margins of life.
I’ve gathered 10 awesome pieces of fitness gear that are perfect for quick at-home workouts. They’re great for yourself, or as a gift for the busy women in your life!
Full disclosure – I personally own and use almost every item on this list. I also linked to some awesome, free workout videos that I use with my gear. The videos show you exactly how to get quick, effective home workouts in 30 minutes or less, using the gear below.
Before we get to the gear, a quick disclaimer: I am not a doctor, trainer, or other health professional. You should consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Use the products below at your own risk. For more information, see my disclosure statement.
Stationary bikes provide a great cardio workout, but they take up space and can be cumbersome. I wish I’d known these existed before I bought my bulky stationary bike and giant elliptical machine.
Folding exercise bikes squish up, and can be easily stashed in a closet or behind a large mirror. Plus, they tend to be lighter and easier to move around than their non-folding counterparts. An exercise bike is the perfect solution for getting cardio home workouts in while reading or catching up on your DVR.
Even with a few bells and whistles (Think a digital display and pulse monitor), the best folding upright bikes are still pretty affordable. Some, like this one, even feature an extra cushy seat.
Jumping rope isn’t only for the playground. It’s a great warm-up exercise and burns a fair amount of calories. It’s also a cardio exercise that doesn’t require a lot of space, like running or aerobics do. Stop stealing your kid’s rope and spring for an adult model instead.
The best jump ropes today are adjustable and feature a swivel head, which helps eliminate annoying twists in the rope.
If you jump rope inside, do it in a clear space. Stay away from furniture, decor, overhead lights, and ceiling fans. Try turning on some upbeat music and jump to the rhythm! Depending on your weight, 20 minutes of moderate jumping rope can burn anywhere from 150 to 250 calories. Not bad for a quick 20-minute at-home workout!
Forget those crazy-looking fitness machines and heavy-as-hell free weights at the gym. A good set of resistance bands is all you need for toning and light strength-training. Try this killer 30-minute full-body resistance band workout (You may want a yoga mat for this one). Don’t let the fact that it’s only 30 minutes fool you. You’ll definitely be sore afterward.
Remember the Pogo Ball toy from the 80’s and 90’s? You know, that toy that looked like you were standing on a squished Saturn’s rings. The balance board is like an adult version of that. You’d be surprised how difficult – and how tiring – it is to balance on one of these things!
Start out slowly by practicing your balance on the board for a few minutes at a time, then try a basic balance board workout with push-ups, elbow planks, and upright balancing. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can move on to a more advanced balance board workout with light dumbbells. No only will you tone and firm, you’ll improve your balance!
When using a balance board, make sure that there’s a wall nearby to provide support when you’re getting on and off of the board. Stay away from hard surfaces or corners, such as counters or coffee tables.
If When you lose your balance, you don’t want to bash your head or body on nearby objects.
I love listening to podcasts while I work out on my balance board with 4-pound dumbbells.
Medicine balls are a workout classic and (In my humble opinion) highly underrated. The weight of a medicine ball adds resistance to all sorts of basic exercise moves, like push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. As a result, you get more bang for your exercise buck.
Look for a medicine ball with a texturized grip, like the one shown here. You’re less likely to drop one with a textured surface, which makes it safer to use.
Working out with a medicine ball adds a little weight training to regular circuits, increasing toning potential and burning more calories. I like this full-body medicine ball workout, which takes only 18 minutes. (A yoga mat will come in handy for this workout) My medicine ball is 10 pounds, which may be a bit much if you’re starting out. Try 6 or 8 pounds instead.
I love the fact that dancing counts as exercise. I’ve been doing Zumba home workouts on and off for nearly 10 years. The Zumba Incredible Slimdown set includes a 20-minute express workout. So you get to dance for 20 minutes, and your workout is done for the day! How amazing is that?
And yes, okay, the videos are a little cheesy. But the more you allow yourself to get into it, the more flavor and attitude you add, the better home workouts you’ll get. The 20-minute express workout is a hip-rolling, booty-shaking powerhouse.
If you don’t want to deal with the DVDs, you can also get digital versions of these videos on Amazon.
Fitbits have certainly come a long way since their debut in 2011. The Fitbit Charge 2 not only monitors your heart rate during home workouts, but also keeps track of daily steps, floors, sleep cycle, and has a smartphone-enhanced GPS.
Hydration is important during a workout, and all day long. I love this huge, adorable water bottle from Under Armour, which holds 64 ounces of water – about a day’s worth. I fill it up in the morning with water and ice, and tote it around with me all day. It’s made of heavy, durable plastic and has a spill-proof spout.
I sometimes think it looks like a little pink robot. Completely nerdy, I know!
Workouts use up energy by burning calories. (That’s the point, right?) Make sure that the next thing you eat will be fantastic fuel for your body. Protein bars are a great post-workout snack. I like to eat half of a One birthday cake bar after my workouts. They’re yummy, and full of protein and other good stuff to help your bod recover from all that hard work.
No so much into protein bars? Try jazzing up an avocado for a post-workout snack. They’re full of healthy fats (And totally yummy, too).
Let’s Wrap This Up
When life gets busy, exercise is often first on the chopping block, but it shouldn’t be. When you skip exercise, you lose out on better health, more energy, and a more positive self-image. The people you love suffer too, because you may be missing out on opportunities to be the best mother, wife, daughter, or friend you can be.
The items above are perfect for home workouts, even if you’re just getting started. Plus, you don’t need all of them. You can pick and choose which ones you want. The linked videos above are great for full-body workouts, so you can’t go wrong. Make a small investment in some basic equipment, find quick, effective workouts online, and commit to exercising regularly. You’ll be glad you did (And so will your jeans).
P.S. – Does the hustle and bustle of the holiday season have your head spinning? Check out my post on staying healthy during the holidays.