Have you ever walked into a gym, took one look at the equipment, and turned right around and walked out?
All the latest and greatest gadgets can not only be daunting, but they can also leave one to ponder who comes up with this crazy stuff.
Well, let me tell you, this is my absolute favorite thing to write about. I love and adore anything fitness. Some people reach for the latest upgrades to their Smartphones. Not me, I reach for the most convoluted apparatus to hit the market.
Don’t let lack of experience deter you from your fitness goals. If the gym is not your thing, no problem.
However, there is no excuse not to exercise. Our aging bodies need movement to keep the joints mobile, hormones in check, metabolism up and mental sanity functioning.
Listening to your body’s cues will help streamline what type of exercise is optimal for you. Once you start on this journey, you will never want to live without it.
For those that prefer to workout in the privacy of their homes or in the nucleus of Mother Nature, here are 5 must have equipment staples:
- MAT. Your mat is there to support you, ground you and keep you safe. Yoga, pilates, core work, deep fascial stretching, restorative meditation are just a few of the opportunities the mat brings. Have one in the car at all times. You never know when you may have free time in your day to take to the mat.
- DUMBBELLS. Resistance training is a non-negotiable component to exercising. While doing cardio formats are great, strength training is where systemic balance occurs. We all know resistance training helps maintain bone strength. But did you know it also helps lower cholesterol, improve insulin resistance, decrease cellular inflammation and increase metabolism? For optimal results, strength training should be done 3-4x/wk. Begin with the basic exercises: squats, lunges, pushups, planks. As your strength improves, begin adding weights. With those that are affected by orthopedic injuries, water aerobics is an excellent alternative.
- RESISTANCE BANDS. Just like my purse, these go EVERYWHERE with me. How can a latex tube cause so many muscles to cry out for mercy? That is because they are just awesome. Lightweight, compact and so versatile, bands are the best travel accessory one can pack. Resistance bands are colored for the varying intensities. Each resistance level represents the weight in pounds. For example, depending on the manufacturer company, a blue band may have enough resistance of lifting 8-10# dumbells. This is one purchase that is a must have.
- SUSPENSION STRAPS. This is where the fun begins! Straps were initially used in the military to train soldiers in various structural suspended planes. Just as the name implies, the majority of the exercises are done in a suspended manner relying on your core and the straps to keep you from falling. I bought my first set of straps 10 years ago and it still continues to be my go to on a day when I need to go all out. Many different companies have created off-brands that make it easily affordable. Suspension straps are for every level. That’s what makes them so great! Trust me. You will not regret adding this to your collection.
- FOAM ROLLER. Cardiovascular and resistance training causes micro tears in the deep muscle fibers. The body’s natural defense mechanism is to increase blood flow and lay down new tissue to repair the damage. In the process of regeneration, scar tissue begins to develop. Over time, the scar tissue will start to inhibit range of motion in the joints. This restriction leads to injuries and avoidable traumas. Foam rolling is used to ‘knead’ out those scar tissues. If possible, do it daily for 5-10 minutes. Those that foam roll on a regular basis, notice an improvement in their overall quality of exercise. Foam rollers also make great tools for pilates/strength exercises. Relying heavy on the core, rollers help improve balance and postural stability.
There are many other available modalities, other than those listed here, that constantly challenge our physical form. The five listed above is a great starting point for beginners and a must-have for all advanced athletes.
We must continuously change our approach to our body and evolve our techniques so that we may keep up with the emerging science and aging self.
Be mindful and practice safe proper form. Remember, how you work out is how you will end up looking. There are a plethora of online videos that show correct technique. Find your favorite instructor and bring the training home to you.
We all have to climb this mountain of healthy living someday. Start now when you GET to rather than waiting until you HAVE to. The choice is YOURS! Choose YOU! The view from the top really is more breathtaking!