In our last blog post we gave you encouragement to begin increasing your fitness level and support your health goals. We countered the limiting beliefs related to physical activity and fitness, provided an antidote to negativity, and supported you in all positive lifestyle choices. This post will build on that base and give you some ideas you can implement to increase your fitness today!
For some people exercise is a social activity; they see it as another opportunity to be with friends and to some people it serves as an external motivator. This is great if it gets you to the gym, however to many beginners having someone else watch them start from ground zero is the last thing they want when exercising. The natural remedy to this fear is to begin with a home workout.
If you were to believe the slick marketing and infomercials, you can only be fit and healthy if you have access to the latest club-based fitness equipment, expensive home gym setups, or the newest gadget [that they will tell you] “replaces all of those”. The fact is that you can build a strong, flexible, healthy body in the privacy of our own home with little or no equipment. This week we will help you get prepared to take control of your fitness destiny from the comfort of your living room.
To begin, all you will need is:
- the right motivation,
- a few pieces of gear, and
- a little bit of knowledge.
Let’s begin by talking about why you desire to improve your fitness. There are short term goals like:
- looking good for your wedding
- getting ready for swimsuit season
- doing your best at that next race
While these goals are very well defined (a trait all effective goals must share) and highly motivating, they also have one distinct disadvantage: they all have a final end point. This requires you to have the next goal lined up or you will be vulnerable to the dangers that go along with not having a new one ready at that vital time.
However a benefit to this type of goal is that you know exactly once you have achieved it and when you can reward yourself. Rewards are very important and powerful to create the habit of goal achievement. Always follow through with your rewards and make sure that they do not counteract your hard work! (i.e. do not reward achieving your weight loss goal by eating a giant dessert!)
Long-term goals are fantastic for sustained motivation, as well as giving fuel to use fitness to improve your overall health. Some examples are:
- Reducing risk of heart disease
- Delaying or reversing diabetes
- Minimizing cancer risk
- Maintaining your goal weight
These are the best for creating habits that result in long standing fitness, but they can be difficult to measure. The best recipe for health improvement is to use a combination of both types of goals. This way you are able to keep up the drive to hit that [home] gym, so that you can receive that short term reward and continue to improve not just your fitness but your health as well!
Next let’s discuss equipment. The one thing that you absolutely have to have in order to really workout is a pair of comfortable, reliable, supportive shoes. There are people who swear by the benefits of barefoot running or 5 finger shoes, but those require a considerable ramp-up period and for the beginner-to-moderate exerciser they are not appropriate.
It’s important to understand that once you are outfitted with the right footwear, you can get an amazing full-body cardio and resistance workout using only your body as resistance. However there are a few pieces of gear that can add variety to your workouts and allow you to achieve specific, expanded exercise goals. The list that follows is the most important equipment for a beginner to start a home workout (in order) beginning with the most important.
- Shoes – provide you secure footing when doing any activity and they are a must for cardiovascular workouts.
- Non-cotton workout clothes – helps moderate body temp better than cotton and doesn’t feel sticky and heavy when wet.
- Stability ball – useful for core work and resistance training, inexpensive.
- Heart Rate Monitor – very important to track heart rate and know where your boundaries are when beginning to exercise.
- Elastic bands – variable resistance for a wide variety of moves.
- Dumbbells – great for adding more resistance and still utilize your stabilizing muscles.
- Bosu ball – great for many moves especially creating stability in the lower body.
- Jump rope – more advanced, but few activities create bigger results than jumping rope.
- Exercise videos – can really help with motivation and keep variety in your workout when you don’t want to come up with your own program.
- Other home gym equipment – cost and space required goes up big time. For most a membership to a fitness club would work too.
Your final need for an effective home workout is the proper knowledge on how to begin the journey. Depending on your fitness/health goals, where to begin will vary. In Part 2: Getting Started, we will go into detail about what you need to know to be a more fit and more healthy you!