Welcome to our final installment on basic equipment for your home fitness program! We’re wrapping up this series with our last 2 recommendations for equipment for your personal home gym with an focus on function and simplicity. (We, at KissWorkouts, understand that if you can’t Keep it Short and Simple, you’re likely not going to stay with any fitness program!)
Sandbag: We know this seems like an odd item to have in your fitness arsenal and, quite frankly, it needn’t be your first acquisition. However, most people could do a lot worse than having a sandbag of their very own. (C’mon … you wouldn’t share your stick deodorant with just anyone, would you?) A sandbag, like a pillowcase filled with angry cats, is an unstable
object; it flops and moves in unpredictable ways as it’s lifted or thrown, only without the scratches. Sandbag training (not to be confused with sandbagging) prepares you for everyday activities. Real people pick up kids, lift heavy things off the floor, push awkwardly-sized boxes onto top shelves while standing on tippy toes, reach a little farther off center than they should when standing on ladders, shovel compost out of the pick-up and give grandkids wheelbarrow rides. Used smartly, a sandbag will aid in development of a strong core and reduce injury risk. When not using it in your workout, you can always throw it in the trunk of your car to increase traction in wet weather.
- Where to get one: Use your web browser to search “sandbag training.” If you decide to buy a sandbag, remember that you’ll only be getting the shell, and that you’ll still need to run to the hardware store for something to fill it with. Sand is inexpensive and easy to find. You can always make your own sandbag by recruiting an old duffle bag; you’ll spend a lot less than you would for a shell and shipping from an online source.
- Options: An online search will guide you to all sorts of directions for making your own sandbag. However, we’re going to save you the trouble and send you directly to one of our favorite guys out there. Here’s the link to Ross Enamait’s PDF with directions for how to make your own: www.rosstraining.com/sandbagconstructionkit.pdf. The PDF will have a link to his website; we highly encourage you to click through and check him out!
Dumbbells: Although being called a “dumbbell” is considered an insult in most circles, the origin of the word actually has nothing at all to do with brains, or lack thereof. The etymological story goes something like this. It appears that church bell ringers of long ago apparently needed quite a bit of arm strength to signal villagers it was time for them to join their neighbors in worship. They accomplished this by repeatedly swinging a weighted rope against an imaginary bell which was, as you might expect an imaginary bell to be, silent, or “dumb.” This homemade piece of exercise gear was subsequently modified by replacing the rope with a short bar, and affixing a rounded weight to each end. Today, dumbbells come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, uncoated or coated with vinyl or neoprene coverings, with hex or round heads, and can be purchased in single weights or as a “set” with the option of “selecting” different weights (e.g., PowerBlock, SelectTech, or plain old generic adjustable sets). Our recommendation is to get yourself a couple of inexpensive dumbbells in a couple of different weights. Do not get anything that weighs less than a water bottle. Nobody ever got strong lifting little water bottles! If it’s easy for you to lift it a few times in the store, walk away, because it’s not going to be of any use to you unless you need an ugly paperweight. If you are just lacking confidence, fine … get a pair of light weights. But also get a pair that intimidates you just a bit and that feels heavy after lifting it a few times. You can increase weight later … dumbbells are easy to find.
- Where to get them: Check the web, searching for “dumbbells” in your browser. Once you have a sense of pricing plus shipping, then it’s time to visit your local sporting goods store. If this is your first dumbbell purchase, be sure to actually walk into a store, the local gym, a friend’s home gym, or the high school weight room … anyplace where you can actually pick something up. Touch everything and ask whatever questions you might have. This is not rocket science, but not something to be taken too lightly!
- Options: All you need to build your own set of dumbbells is a few lengths of pipe, some blocks of cement, some duct tape (Is there anything you can’t do with duct tape?) and a bucket for your brains, because we can’t even fathom why anyone would want to make their own dumbbells. Remember to KISS (Keep It Short & Simple). Please … just buy yourself some dumbbells.
The Bottom Line: Seven pieces of equipment … could it be any simpler? And remember, you don’t need everything before you begin. Focus on taking bold, positive steps toward increased fitness, and expand your training arsenal a little at a time. Even adding one piece of functional gear per month to your home gym will put you in the position where you have absolutely everything you need in a few short months. And remember, you’re doing this for life … you will never outgrow this stuff (although you’ll surely outgrow light weights!). Make a personal commitment to being healthy, resilient and strong. It doesn’t need to be complicated and overwhelming. When making choices on how to work out, you’ll want to keep it short and simple (but intense) so you can spend your life with family and friends, enjoying the people and activities that make you feel alive and happy.
© Cathy Larripa and Kissworkouts, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cathy Larripa and KissWorkouts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.