Back in January, I joined a gym close to work. I figured that it'd be the perfect motivator to get me out of the office during my lunch break and free up the time I used to spend working out at home in the evenings. Since joining, I can count on both hands the number of times I've been, and what's more surprising, I found myself missing my evening workouts at home. For me, 30 minutes of yoga or cardio when I got home from the office was the perfect antidote to a stressful day, and is a routine that I've really relished reviving. Needless to say, I've cancelled my membership, and thought I'd share with you my essential kit for the perfect home workout. More importantly, all this works out at less than my monthly membership!
I've accumulated this equipment over a number of years as I've realised what works for me and will help me get the best from my training, so if you're looking to build a home routine, please don't rush out and buy everything here! Instead, take some time to work out what you enjoy and take it slowly from there. I consider these things my essentials: yours may look completely different, but hopefully this provides you with a bit of inspiration.
My fitness routine is a blend of weight training, cardio and yoga, and the combination is more to keep things interesting for me than some expertly crafted blend of exercises. For me, finding what feels good and what you enjoy is the key to a successful fitness routine, as you need an iron will to stick with a training programme that you don't enjoy! I try and run once a week, do at least one session with my kettlebell and one 30 minutes session of yoga - although I make time to stretch everyday. I'm definitely a solitary exerciser which makes working out at home perfect for me. Plus you can get as sweaty, red-faced and noisy as you like without ever feeling self-conscious!
So, onto the kit! The picture above shows (clockwise from bottom left) an 8kg kettlebell, Magnesium Oil spray, an Everlast 3lb hand weight, and a Gaiam yoga block. The kettlebell is by Matt Roberts (unfortunately, they're not available anymore), but you can pick them up from Amazon from around £15. This is honestly the best bit of home exercise equipment I've ever used, and I saw a massive change in my physique within a couple of weeks of training with this. I read some time ago that 8kg is the perfect weight for women starting to train, but I was pretty sceptical that I could do anything with it when I got it - it was so heavy! Although the first few sessions were very tough, I pushed through and am so glad I got that weight, as anything less would have quickly become too light. As well as resistance training, it really gets your heart rate up, and is therefore the perfect cardio exercise if you live in a flat, and don't want to be leaping about the place and disturbing your neighbours!
The Magnesium Oil is a recent additional and one that I know I will now never be without. Most of us are deficient in magnesium, but this mineral is essential for muscle repair. I find spraying this onto my body after I've showered helps keep almost all the post-workout aches at bay and it's improved the quality of my sleep considerably. This one is from Better You and costs around £12.00.
Next are the Everlast hand weights, which I've had for years (again, these have been discontinued but Calmia have an almost identical set of two for £6.99). I tend to use these when I'm doing sit ups or lunges at home, which helps up the intensity of your workout. Lastly, I think a yoga block is a fantastic addition for all you at-home yogis. It really helps you to progress into slightly deeper stretches, and is great to help stabilise you. Having two is probably more beneficial for certain postures, but I've never struggled with one. It's also great if you need to get something down from a high shelf! You can get the same one I have for £5.30 here.
If you're going to do yoga at home, it goes without saying that a mat is essential. I haven't photographed mine, but again, it's from Gaiam and it retails for £24.99. You can pick them up much more cheaply than this (I was sent this to review a few years ago), but I'd say it's worthwhile investing in a mat that's at least 5mm thick, as they're much more comfortable to work on.
The photo above shows my beloved Bed of Nails pillow (I also have the mat), which is the perfect way to de-stress. The pillow and the mat are covered in plastic 'spikes' to deliver the most heavenly accupressure - don't worry; you want be full of holes when you stand up! Just don't make the mistake of wriggling to the side while you're lying on it, as it does scratch! I got both of mine from Amazon (the pillow was £19 and the mat was £35). You can read more about Bed of Nails here.
Next are my Gaiam grippy yoga mitts (if you're prone to a sweaty paw, these are for you!) and a yoga strap to help stretch out my hamstrings and back, but you can use this to help you deepen into all sorts of postures. I picked both of these up from TK Maxx for next to nothing, but they can both be found online cheaply (and you can use a belt or scarf instead of the yoga strap!)
Lastly, I have a few videos I go back to time and time again. This kettlebell workout from Fitness Blender is incredible, but boy will you sweat! For yoga, it's anything and everything from Yoga with Adrienne - she's got such a great, easy style, but her videos are still a great challenge.
I hope you found this useful, and do let me know your favourite workout resources and at-home kit in the comments below!