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In a perfect world, people would be able to work out in the gym with a personal trainer whenever they'd like. However, sometimes life gets in the way.
Maybe you're a virtual trainer for clients who don't have access to a gym. Or your client has a family member who needs continuous care—such as an elderly parent or young children—making it difficult to workout away from home. Or maybe they just want fitness options for the days they don't feel like driving to the gym.
Fortunately, there are a few pieces of exercise equipment that you as a personal trainer can recommend for a great workout at home. But what is the best equipment for a home gym? Typically, the options fall into one of two categories: resistance training equipment and cardio fitness equipment.
One of the benefits of having access to a commercial gym is that you also have access to equipment designed to work every muscle group. From heavy weights to a squat rack, you can get a full-body workout by making one circuit around the gym.
Having this type of workout equipment at home is an option reserved for people who have enough money and space for multiple exercise devices. For the rest of us—the majority of us—this isn't an option.
The best resistance training equipment for the average person is equipment that is affordable, easy to store, and doesn't take up a lot of room. Which weight training pieces fit this description, yet are still effective at building stronger muscles?
Dumbbells. The nice thing about dumbbells is that they come in a variety of sizes, enabling you to choose the weight or weights you desire. There are also adjustable barbells that allow users to increase or decrease the total weight simply by adding or removing weight plates. Dumbbells are easy to store under furniture to keep them out of sight when not in use, which is great if space is a concern.
Resistance bands. Like dumbbells, resistance bands also come in a variety of strengths (usually designated by light, medium, and heavy), making this type of gym equipment suitable for clients of all fitness levels. Resistance bands also offer a complete body workout, enabling users to strengthen their upper body, lower body, and core without having to buy different pieces of equipment.
Stability ball. Stability balls can help strengthen nearly every part of the body as well. For instance, if you do a pushup with your feet on the ball, you can work your low back and abs. Perform a pushup with your arms on the ball instead and you can build your upper body.
Medicine ball. Clients can also purchase a medicine ball to continue to strength train when they can't get to the gym. Medicine balls come in a variety of weight options and can be used alone or with a partner, making them great choices for clients who have a family member or friend to work out with.
If your client plans to exercise in a room that is carpeted, you may want to suggest that they purchase a yoga mat to provide a bit more stability for their feet. Yoga mats are also beneficial if they are performing floor exercises and have bad knees since they offer extra cushion. Of course, they can be used for their intended purpose—doing yoga poses—as well.
You may also suggest that clients purchase a bench. Buying an exercise bench opens the door to a variety of exercise options. One is a bench press, which works the chest and triceps. All they need is free weights (like a set of dumbbells). Benches are also helpful when performing exercises such as seated shoulder presses, seated bicep curls, and one-arm dumbbell rows.
To increase the likelihood that clients will use their weight training equipment for a muscle-building at-home workout, provide a printout with exercises they can do with that particular device. This helps ensure that they will perform the most effective exercises as safely as possible, enabling you to help them meet their fitness goals even when you can't be face-to-face.
For example, if clients purchase a medicine ball, provide a handout that shows effective medicine ball exercises. This would include sit-ups, V-ups, and Russian twists. If they have a garage gym or access to a strong outer wall, chest passes are great for building muscles too.
Cardio equipment is a bit tougher to recommend, mainly because of its cost and size. If clients can get outdoors for a walk or a run, these options can be helpful until they can find their way back to the gym. Otherwise, there are a few additional things they can purchase for a workout inside the home.
Jump rope. Many of us played with jump ropes as a kid. Why not bring that same level of fun (and exercise intensity) back now that we're a little older? For clients with a higher level of fitness, a weighted jump rope can kick up their cardio workout a notch.
Exercise step. Like the other pieces of workout equipment on this list, exercise steps don't cost a lot of money and don't take up a late of space. Plus, there are a ton of YouTube step videos the client can watch at home to vary their workouts from day to day.
Kettlebell. Kettlebell swings are great for working muscles, but they also provide an amazing cardio workout. The main thing to help clients remember when it comes to using kettlebells is to use proper form to avoid injury.
Adjustable stepper. If a full-sized step machine is out of the question, an adjustable stepper is a good alternative for increasing the heart rate. It only takes a small bit of space to use and many fold up for easy storage.
Sometimes it is a financial issue that prevents people from going to the gym more often. But can you get in shape without going to an actual gym?
The reality is that you can get in shape anywhere, even if you have absolutely no access to a barbell, squat rack, or gymnastic rings. In fact, research suggests that old-school workouts using minimal gym equipment is better (and more safe) than using of some of the newest exercise machines.
Here are a few items that many people have at home that can be used as gym equipment:
A water bottle is a great stand-in for a one-pound dumbbell.
Substitute a full bottle of laundry detergent for a heavier weight.
Use a large piece of firewood as a plyo box (for box jumps).
Grab a rope and use it to pull an old tire around the yard.
Take those extra pieces of wood lying around the house and build your own bench.
Encourage clients to be creative when creating their at-home gym. Have a little fun with it and ask them to post their pictures on your social media pages. Help them see that working out at home—for whatever the reason—doesn't have to be a bad thing.
There will also be times when you're asked for at-home gym equipment recommendations for clients who want to create an exercise room like what you'd find in a commercial gym. What options do you suggest then?
If their goal is to increase muscle strength, there are a number of home fitness centers designed for this purpose. Some are intended to be used for only a few exercises whereas others have multiple workout stations, providing a more complete workout.
If your client is interested in adding more cardio equipment to their home gym, some options to recommend include:
Are you ready to start a fitness career based out of your home? Start your journey to becoming an online trainer with ISSA's Self-guided Personal Trainer course. It has everything you'll need to know to guide clients to better health and fitness. Sign up today!