Choosing Home Exercise Equipment

For people who enjoy the privacy of exercising at home, home equipment can provide the means to exercise regularly regardless of weather conditions or the availability of local facilities. Exercise videos can provide guidance in the absence of a trainer.

Home equipment can vary from in-expensive skipping ropes and hand-held weights to expensive and bulky rowing machines, stair-climbers, trampolines, cycling machines and treadmills. Before purchasing expensive machinery, an individual should be sure that she is committed to using it and that it includes all the features that she needs. If the range of available equipment is confusing, staff at a sports centre or in a specialist store should be able to give advice. If possible, equipment should be tried out at a gym or in the store before purchase. Consider the following points:

• Is the equipment easy and enjoyable to use? Does it come with clear instructions?

• Does it specifically exercise the parts of the body that need improvement?

• Does it take up a lot of space? If it has to be taken out of a cupboard and assembled each time it is used, will this inconvenience act as a demotivator?

• Will other members of the family be able to use the equipment?

• Is it strong and well-made? How much weight can it take? What is its lifespan?

• What additional features might be useful? Some equipment can count repetitions or measure pulse rate, for example.

General equipment

Whatever type of exercise an individual chooses to pursue, items that can be useful for training at home include a mat for floor exercises and stretching; a full-length mirror for checking posture; and a stop-watch for timing work-outs and checking the heart rate.

Equipment for muscular training

For muscular fitness training, hand-held weights are a good and inexpensive purchase. Even better is a set of dumbbells and a barbell with variable weights. Strap on leg weights are helpful for working the thighs and buttocks. Abdominal exercisers, for example, power rollers, can be helpful because they isolate the abdominal muscles and reduce neck strain. If space permits, and frequent use is assured, a multi-gym – a single piece of equipment that offers a total body workout – can be a good investment.

Equipment for aerobic exercise

One of the cheapest pieces of equipment for aerobic exercise is the skipping rope; and wearing wrist and ankle weights while skipping increases the intensity of the workout. Other relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment for aerobic fitness include the rebounder (a mini-trampoline) for a low-impact workout and the step, which can double as a bench for muscular training. A sturdy crate or even the doorstep can make an improvised step. Cardio-machines, such as a stationary bike or a rowing machine, are popular, although expensive, pieces of equipment for home aerobic workouts.

Choosing exercise DVDs or videos

Good home exercise DVDsvideos are invaluable in helping to build up a structured exercise routine at home. They are also an inexpensive way of trying out a new exercise discipline before deciding to join a class. In general, a video presented by a professional sports-person or produced with the backing of a respected sports institute is more likely to offer a safe and effective exercise routine than one presented by a celebrity with no experience of fitness training. Before buying, it is important to check that the fitness level is appropriate, and that the routines include warming-up and cooling-down sessions.