By Dian Mills
Exercise. To most, a necessary evil. As if breaking a sweat isn’t painful enough, doing said breaking in a stranger-packed room that you pay more get into to than you’d care to admit can be mortifying. With a few feet of living space and a fraction of those dues, you can create your own personal cardioasis! Here’s how:
Step 1: Define and Set Up Your Space
How much room can you spare? If you have an extra bedroom or de-junked basement, great! If not, even a few feet can be enough if you’re creative with design and careful with your gear choices. No matter what size your footprint is, proper floor padding is essential. One great option is the Flex Series by Shock Athletic. This affordable, incredibly durable flooring is sold in four-packs of 2’x2’ connecting tiles and comes in Extreme, Yoga and Super Soft strengths to keep every type of exerciser comfy and protected. Available at major sporting goods stores and http://www.venture-products.com.
It’s also important to keep as much floor space open as possible. A fun way to make time fly while you’re pedaling to oblivion (or doing jumping jacks until you drop) is to work a television into the mix. It also unlocks a world of fitness DVDs (and apps, if you’re tech savvy enough to connect your computer or smartphone). Put one right on the wall with a SANUS full-motion mount. Quick and easy to assemble (with no tools!), this line has mounts for TVs up to 90” that let you tilt, swivel and extend your screen for perfect viewing no matter where you are in the room. Find your nearest retailer at http://www.sanus.com.
Step 2: Choose Your Workout Weapons
This step hinges on the amount of space (and money) you’re working with. If neither concerns you, think about which machines and/or weight sets you enjoy most in professional gyms. Home gym versions are always available and can be found at most sporting goods stores. If your footage and funds are limited, there are still plenty of products available to keep things fun and interesting. One terrific example is the AeroPilates Studio Barre Ballet Workout with DVD. This deceptively challenging set includes a lightweight, freestanding Studio Barre which can be disassembled and stored in an included bag or, since its depth is only 2.5’, kept intact and put against a wall when not in use. The workout itself is just over 30 minutes of posture-perfecting, muscle-stretching moves. Find yours at http://www.QVC.com.
On days when you’re feeling more aggressive than elegant, work up a sweat with some Kettlebell Kickboxing™! Developed by celebrity trainer Dasha Libin, this method (which can also be done using dumbbells) corrects muscle imbalances, burns fat and builds lean muscle tissue while making you feel like a total badass. The Body Series is an 11-DVD program, including a comprehensive nutrition guide and two bonus workouts, designed to transform your body inside and out in 60 days using only enough space to move around and store a couple of weights. Get inspired at http://www.kettlebellkickboxing.com.
Another space-saving idea is to look for kits that offer workouts targeting multiple areas while using a single apparatus. Weight Watchers has a great one: the Work Your Belly, Butt & Thighs Stability Ball Workout includes the ball, a pump and a stability ring to keep you in one spot while you’re working your way through three complete workouts (beginner, intermediate and advanced). The ball can also be used for other stretching and balancing exercises … or to flop on when you’re too pooped to move! Pick one up at Walmart and http://www.amazon.com/Gaiam-Restore-Total-Massage-Roller/dp/B008R79RTI
Finally, if you feel a sudden need to commune with nature (or at least get a little fresh air), take Runtastic with you. This collection of apps for smartphones, tablets and Apple TV will train, motivate and monitor you as you tackle everything from running to mountain biking. Even if you prefer to stay in one place, they have you covered with training programs like Six Pack (which delivers exactly that) and Squats and Sit Ups. Check out their incredibly comprehensive line at http://www.runtastic.com, the iOS App Store or Google Play.
Step 3: Arm Yourself
You wouldn’t go into combat without armor, right? Well, you’re about to fight the battle of the bulge, so make sure no part of said bulge slows you down by wrapping it in C3fit compression garments. Graduated compression is used throughout this line of high performance sportswear to provide a perfect fit and promote healthy body function and fitness quality. They’re so effective, they’re considered Class 1 Medical Devices in Japan. Suit up at Paragon Sports stores or http://www.paragonsports.com.
Another great tool to help optimize your fitness is the Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker. Nestled into a clippable silicone case, this the Zip monitors your steps, distance and calories burned, then syncs those stats to your computer or smartphone. You’ll be amazed by how much more often you take stairs or put a bounce in your walk when something’s keeping track! It also comes with a membership to Fitbit.com, which enables you to track your food, sleep, water, BMI, weight and more right along with the Zip’s findings. Keep an eye on yourself at http://www.QVC.com.
Step 4: Keep it Fresh
After you’ve combined steps 3 and 4, there’s a good chance you’ll be a sweaty mess. That’s a good thing! Your gym will be one also, though, and that’s not so good. Keeping a soft cloth or roll of paper towels and a bottle of Espro Sports Cleaner. This versatile, Earth-friendly spray manages to cleanse, deodorize and remove stains from athletic equipment, furniture and clothing without a trace of bleach, butyl or anything else that might harm any children or pets that might encounter it. Find your nearest bottle at http://www.esproclean.com.
You can also pretty up the place with a few sneaky air fresheners. Fresh Wave’s Crystal Gel Design Collection features refillable container that looks like an elegant trinket jar but, when combined with all-natural Crystal Gel beads, knocks out odors for up to 90 days. Check out their entire line of non-toxic smell stoppers at http://www.freshwaveworks.com.
Step 5: Rejuvenation Station
You’ve created your workout haven, put it through its paces and left it squeaky clean. Now it’s time to grab a little TLC for yourself! A great way to replenish your body’s fluids is by treating yourself to a healthy, happy smoothie. The Nutri Ninja™ Pro can hook you up in seconds! Compact and sleek, this powerful single-serve blender can break down whole fruits, vegetables and ice in seconds. When your concoction is complete, just flip the 18 oz cup over and start sipping. It even comes with a 24 oz cup for sharing and travel lids for downing your nutrients on the fly. Bolster your well-being at http://www.ninjakitchen.com.
Your muscles will probably need love too, and the Gaiam Restore Total Body Massage Roller Stick will have them purring in no time. Four independently spinning massage tubes work to reduce soreness and increase circulation, and it’s as easy to operate as it is to store. Keep your body smiling at http://www.gaiam.com.
Finally, no gym is complete without a supply of hot and cold packs for those times (and there will be many) when your body gets sick of working out and decides to teach you a lesson. Thera Pearl Reusable Hot & Cold Therapy wraps are all you need. Available in sizes to fit every body part, these slender packs can hold a therapeutic temperature for up to 20 minutes while using Pearl Technology® to conform to your every achy curve. Experience a new degree of relief at http://www.therapearl.com.
Now that your own personal gym is up and running, get in there and make yourself proud. Then take some of those unspent health club dues and hit the town!