Updated: Sep 29, 2020
As a health & fitness coach my mission is to inspire, educate, guide and support others in areas of health, wellness and fitness, empowering healthy and meaningful transformations. It really fills me up mind, body and spirit! A large part of what I do is fitness programming, which entails not only demonstrating safe and effective exercise movements, but also ways these activities can be done for varying fitness levels and easily applied at home. Today I am sharing a few of these tips and tricks with you so you too can enhance your fitness experience at home simply by having a few versatile pieces of equipment on hand, with limited expense and space required!
You may have seen these around the gym or spotlighted in a fitness magazine and thought, "what can these do for me?" But the question is, what can't they do?! Not only do resistance bands offer the ease of portability and storage, but they provide versatility to a number of fitness activities. They come in varying sizes, colors, and resistance/strengths to accommodate all fitness levels. Resistance bands have the unique ability to challenge muscles by offering varied tension within an exercise movement, enabling the user to work both the weaker and stronger muscles simultaneously. Because the user is able to determine the amount of tension placed upon the muscle these bands are not only wonderful for those rehabbing a injury or just beginning a fitness program, but also the fitness enthusiasts. Using resistance bands in your fitness routine will help you address underused muscles, strengthening them safely in order to create a healthy balance within the body without placing the strain of conventional weight equipment - safeguarding your muscles, tendons, joints, and bones!
Whether it is a colorful dumbbell set or the racks of endless dumbbells at the local gym, you have probably noticed that free weights come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and of course poundage. With a range of 1lb all the way up to 55lbs the user can really pick the weight that is most appropriate for their current fitness level. The great benefit to using free weights in your fitness routine is they recruit and challenge our balance and strength in ways that stationary machines cannot. Their versatility enables the user to use them in variety of movement patterns, supportive of daily activities. Because free weights encourage the use of stabilizer muscles the user is also able to more effectively obtain strength and power gains, making them ideal for sport conditioning. Adding free weights to traditional bodyweight exercises, such as squats, lunges, planks, and sit ups, can be a great way to enhance your overall fitness experience. It is amazing how much you can do with just a pair of 5 and 10lb dumbbells!
You have probably seen these and wondered, "what's up with the weighted basketballs?" This weighted ball is actually a wonderfully versatile piece of fitness equipment that can offer not only variety, but also dimension to your fitness routine! They range anywhere from 4lbs and up (8lbs is typically the more popular weight used) and some even come with handles! Because they are designed to be thrown and take a great deal of impact they offer more versatility than the traditional dumbbell and can be used in multiple exercises - such as planks, woodchops, crunches, chest press, squat thrusts, push ups, walking lunges, oblique twists, tricep tosses, ball slams, and more! A medicine ball is a great tool to challenge your core, support balance needs, eye-hand coordination, and overall muscular power. They are perfect for explosive strength movements as well as flexibility exercises...and let's face it, they are just plain fun!
Sometimes called a yoga ball, Swiss balls make wonderfully versatile piece of fitness equipment if you have the room available to use and store it. The most common sizes are 55cm, 65cm, and 75cm and the size you will use is dependent on your height (see the recommendations below). You can use it as an office chair to support proper spine alignment, for conditioning exercises such as planks, sit ups, push ups, hamstring curls, and wall squats, in place of a weight bench for seated or lying exercises (such as chest flies and overhead presses) and it is even a great stretching aid! By engaging the core and those muscles supportive of healthy balance the yoga ball is able to help not only support our balance needs, but also proper posture, and foster strength building in a low impact way. It is no wonder why they are now a commonly used piece of equipment used in physical therapy and chiropractic patient care!
Swiss Ball Recommendations based on height:
4'11" to 5'4" height = 55 cm ball
5'4" to 5'11" height = 65 cm ball
5'11" to 6' 7" height = 75 cm ball
Bottom line - bodyweight exercises are a wonderful way to support your functional movement needs. Physical activities such as squats, lunges, planks and sit ups can be done anytime and anywhere with little else required than your body to perform them. Finding ways to enhance these basic movements in order to gain optimal results and build upon your body's strength, cardiorespiratory, balance and coordination foundations is instrumental in maintaining long term health and fitness benefits. As you can see with the use of a few simple fitness tools you can easily add challenge to virtually any fitness routine. So now that you know, get ready - let's go!