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I’ll never forget a chat I had with a trainer at a local gym years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I was expressing concern that once my baby arrived, I’d never be able to get to the gym to exercise. His reply: “You don’t need to come here to get a great workout.” I'm not sure his bosses would have appreciated that suggestion, but I sure did. It completely changed my perspective on what it takes to stay fit.
Yes, there are many reasons to join a gym — I do love the camaraderie of working out with others and the vast selection of equipment (and the endless supply of towels that I don’t have to wash!). But there are also many reasons working out at home is so much better. So much!
Let’s start with the fact that it’s much easier to make time for a quick workout when you don’t have to spend time traveling before you even break a sweat. There’s never a problem of crowds, you can wear whatever you want, and you can blast your music as loud as you want.
And the biggest advantage? With a minimal initial investment in some basic equipment upfront, every workout thereafter is free!
It’s really a no-brainer, and we’ve made it easy for you to get started. Ahead, the must-have equipment for both strength training and cardio from the comfort of your own home.
1. Pull-Up Bar
Remember hanging from playground bars as a child? Back then it was all fun, but a workout bar is actually one of the most effective ways to tone your back, chest, arms, and abs. This is a heavy-duty bar that fits most doorways and has six padded grips so your hands won’t hurt as you’re doing pull-ups and hanging crunches. You can also use it on the floor for exercises such as push-ups and tricep dips. It comes with a workout guide.
A kettlebell is type of free weight that looks like a ball with a flat base and a tall handle. Trainers swear by these primitive-looking weights to develop core strength, improve balance, and target all of your major muscle groups. This one is made of solid cast iron that’s painted black to protect it from rust. Start with just one, generally between 10 and 20 pounds depending on your strength.
3. Jump rope
Jumping rope is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and get a great cardio workout. Science Daily reports that ten minutes of jumping rope is roughly the equivalent of running an eight-minute mile (that’s fast!) — but it’s much more gentle on your knees. This jump rope is suitable for people up to six feet tall and can be shortened if you are smaller.
4. Hand Weights
Hand weights are the standard equipment for a variety of exercises. These are coated with colorful neoprene that creates a comfortable grip. The hexagonal shape on the ends means the weight won’t roll when you put it down. These come in weights ranging from two to 15 pounds.
5. Resistance Tubes
I love resistance tubes because they not only allow me to mimic the movements I do on my favorite gym equipment, but I can also toss them in a suitcase when I travel (try that with a kettlebell!). This set gives you everything you need: 5 tubes ranging in resistance from three to 19 pounds, two handles, two ankle straps, a door anchor, a carrying bag and instructions. And you can combine the bands to increase the resistance up to 96 pounds.
6. Stability Ball
Try doing push-ups or leg curls with one of these and you’ll understand why it’s called a stability ball: you’ll have to really work to feel stable! That means you’re strengthening your core with each move. This is a 65-centimeter ball, suited for people from 5’3” to 5’10” and up to 250 pounds. It comes with an air-pump for fast inflation and an exercise chart so you’ll know how to use it.
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