Updated: Oct 20
I’ve been delivering in-home personal training to the 50+ crowd since 2007, and I’ve I've toyed with numerous fitness gadgets and have found the best ones for ease of use, safety, and most importantly – results! If you want to be strong and able as you age, prioritize resistance training, cardiovascular training, balance and agility training, and flexibility training in your workouts. These 6 essential home gym pieces are the best for seeing results. In my Fit for the Future LIVE virtual in-home training program, I keep it simple to help you reduce aches and pains and stay injury-free, and these are the pieces we use on a routine basis for a well-rounded fitness experience.
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1. Exercise mat An exercise mat makes floor exercises more comfortable. They come in a variety of colors and thickness, so choose a color that you love and a thickness that makes you comfortable. You can buy an exercise mat anywhere.
2. Resistance Bands and a door anchor. Resistance bands might be light in weight, but research shows they can strengthen your muscles as effectively as dumbbells or machines. I love them because you’re less likely to overstrain your muscles, making them a very safe option for my clients over 50. There are different types: flat bands, tube bands, loop bands. But a very important piece that makes the resistance band so versatile is the door or wall anchor. It’s like creating your very own cable pulley machine.
3. Dumbbells Dumbbells will add versatility to your workout because they are not fixed in place and train your muscles for increased stabilization and joint integrity. A simple set from 5 – 20 pounds is a great place to start. Buy them used or new, it’s up to you.
4. Stability Ball A stability ball is a perfect substitute for an exercise bench. It is an affordable piece of equipment proven to strengthen your core, improve your balance and flexibility, and enhance your body awareness and coordination – all of which need improvement as we age. I recommend you get the size that’s right for your height. You want to be able to sit on your ball with your legs at a 90-degree angle so that your thighs are parallel to the ground or angled slightly down. I’m 5’4” and I prefer a 65 cm/26” ball.
5. Foam roller A foam roller is a recovery tool used for self-myofascial release (SMR) to reduce stiffness, ease muscle pain and soreness, boosts muscle recovery, and increases range of motion. Other recovery tools such as massage balls or sticks are a good option for trigger point release, but I recommend a long foam roller because it can be added to a standard exercise to bring a balance challenge and strengthen the core.
6. Nordic Walking Poles Don’t forget about cardiovascular training. For home equipment, I love my Nordic walking poles because they don’t take up any space, just strap in and head out the front door for a full body cardio workout. Nordic walking burns 20-46% more calories than regular walking because you’re strengthening your upper body when you plant the poles to propel forward, and it reduces the stress on your lower body joints (hips, knees, ankles). I recommend a pole with a lifetime guarantee which you can purchase from my store here:
Building your home gym and using it consistently is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your mental and physical health as you age.