6 User-Friendly Fitness Tools
Top picks for inexpensive home exercise equipment
Most of us have bought at least one piece of home exercise equipment that has seen more service as a clothes rack than as a fitness tool. But there’s a solution to this waste of money (and loss of exercise). Before you make a purchase, evaluate your fitness goals and limitations, as well as your level of motivation to actually use the equipment. Fitness gizmos bought on impulse after a deluge of late-night TV ads are almost always doomed to a life of neglect. Take the time to figure out what suits you.
You may be surprised by how many relatively inexpensive, highly effective and versatile tools exist out there to help you meet your fitness goals. Below are the best among the many offerings: excellent, affordable home exercise equipment. Enjoy!
- Reebok 5-Position Step Deck ($50). The Reebok Deck is simply a variation on the Reebok Step, with a few additional features making it even more versatile and appealing. The multipurpose Reebok Deck has an adjustable seatback for a variety of strength-training exercises, as well as a stable, nonslip surface so that it can be used for step aerobics. It is also compact enough to be conveniently stored in a closet or under your bed. The Reebok Deck can be purchased online target .com.
- Heart rate monitor ($35 to $400). A heart rate monitor allows you to easily and accurately measure how hard you are working, as well as assess your progress. Monitors come with a variety of options, including calorie counting, fitness test monitoring, stopwatches, backlighting and heart rate zone settings and alarms, to name a few. But a monitor with just a few key features is really all you need.
- Stability ball ($15 to $35). The stability ball is the number one pick for home exercise equipment; it is probably the most versatile single piece around. It can help you develop not only strength, but balance and coordination. The main consideration when purchasing a stability ball is your height. There are balls of different sizes for different statures; it’s important to buy a ball of the right size for you. Thera-Band balls (at fwonline.com) come with a color instructional poster, and the company is a trusted name in exercise equipment.
- Punching bag ($50 to $200). If you’re looking for a piece of home exercise equipment, a punching bag is usually not at the top of the list—but maybe it should be. What a great way to relieve stress and get a workout at the same time! Although a punching bag is less versatile than stretch tubing or a stability ball, it is highly recommended as a second piece of equipment to add variety to your exercise routine. The Century Wavemaster punching bag is a great choice because it is moderately priced, adjustable for your height and stands alone, so you don’t have to find a place to hang it.
- Pedometer ($5 to $50). A pedometer measures how far you walk—strap it on before you head to work and take it off before bed to see if you exceed the minimum recommended goal of 10,000 steps per day. As with heart rate monitors, the options on pedometers can be overwhelming, so the best advice is to simply look for one that is accurate, durable and easy to use. The TraQ Any Wear Pedometer by Sportline clips, stores or hangs in multiple locations; has a 7-day total workout memory recall; and lets you set and track personal daily and weekly goals.
- Yoga equipment ($20 to $100). Key features to look for in a yoga mat include durability, length and a non-slip surface. Choices include a deluxe classic yoga mat and a starter set with a sticky mat (24" x 68" x 4mm), a 6-foot long yoga strap with cinch buckle and a 3"x6"x9" foam yoga block. Because yoga is technique-intensive, an instructional video that illustrates the basic moves and poses is also highly recommended.
Jessica Smith has a master’s degree in bioengineering. She holds certifications from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the American College of Sports Medicine.