My local gym was part of a big chain that was recently bought out by a bigger chain, which immediately transformed it into a 24-hour neon dance club with treadmills. It was no surprise, then, that my trainer quickly quit, leaving me without an exercise base or coach. So I brought my workout home.
You may think that in-house gyms cannot replicate the real thing, but with the right tools you can create your own fitness center tailored to your boomer body — and with the gear right in your bedroom or living room, it should be easier for you to stick to your exercise goals
These 10 pieces of exercise equipment can get you going. They are multipurpose, easy to manage and can address a variety of fitness needs, including balance, mobility, core strength and muscle tone. Best of all, you don't need to add an extra room to hold them, as most can be easily stored out of sight.
BOSU Sport Balance Trainer Shaped like a mini-dome on a sturdy base, a BOSU ball can be used for a range of upper- and lower-body exercises. You can use it as a base for squats to improve leg strength and balance. You can sit on it for improved form in sit-ups and other abdominal exercises. Or flip it over and get in the plank position for push-ups that work your chest, biceps, triceps and deltoids. ($86; includes air pump)
Circuit Step You don't need bulky, expensive aerobic machines for a cardio workout. You can burn calories and fat and stay trim with a simple Circuit Step. Two sets of risers, included with the base, allow you to set the platform at 4, 6 or 8 inches off the floor for a greater challenge and higher intensity as you step or hop up and down. The durable 11-by-25-inch stepping surface supports up to 275 pounds. ($80)
SandBells SandBells are a cross between a sandbag, dumbbell, barbell, grip bag, medicine ball, slam ball, balance pad and kettle bell. They're ideal for addressing critical middle-age fitness needs, like core stabilization and grip strength, and can be a safe substitute for almost any weight-bearing exercise you'd do at the gym. The bells' weights range from 2 pounds to 50. ($10 and up, depending on number and weight)
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Home Ranger Shoulder Pulley With Straps Pulleys are safe, versatile and easy to use — they just slide over a door. This pulley can be adjusted to work almost every muscle group, from biceps and triceps to shoulders and legs, and since you work each limb separately, pulley exercise can correct the muscle imbalances that may lead to injury on gym machines. The Home Ranger is made of sturdy braided nylon rope and includes an exercise guidebook and progress chart. ($22)
Bell Fit Classic Body Ball No home gym would be complete without a balance ball. The middle, 65-centimeter size of this line of durable gym balls, which comes with its own pump, will serve most of your needs. You can bolster your core, balance and flexibility by using the ball as a platform for push-ups, a base for crunches or as a seat for dumbbell exercises. It can provide benefits even when you're not working out if you use it as a replacement for your desk chair. ($20)
Isoball Set These two 1-pound balls, connected by a flexible, resistant "isobond," can improve balance and help build the essential core strength that many of us lack. This set comes with a workout video to walk you through the recommended Pilates-style moves. ($15)
Exercise Peddler Far less bulky than an exercise bike, this lightweight, portable and sturdy peddler can build muscles by working either the arms or legs. You can use it sitting in a chair or on the floor, and the anti-slip rubber pads prevent sliding. A five-function display shows your exercise time, revolution count and calories burned. This one is ideal for those with limited mobility. ($45)
Wii Fit Plus Nintendo's Wii game system is the leader in fun, interactive exercise. The Wii Fit Plus package allows you to tailor routines to address your fitness level, age, weight and preferred intensity. You can also dial up hybrid workouts to target your weak spots. And the system tracks your progress and calories burned every time you log in. The workouts, which come with digital trainers, can simulate yoga, martial arts, hula-hooping, skiing, running, golfing, cycling, flying and juggling, among many others. In other words, it never gets old. (The Wii system costs $175 and up; the Wii Fit Plus game and platform is sold separately for $95.)
Rotational Discs Many daily movements require rotational stability from your hips and shoulders in weight-bearing positions, like climbing stairs or pushing open a door. Rotational Discs are useful tools for improving strength, stability, balance and range of motion. The goal is to position yourself on the rotating discs, either in the standing or plank position, and maintain balance by engaging your core muscles. The discs are also commonly used in hip rehabilitation. ($85)
Gliding Discs Gliding Discs are somewhat like oversized versions of the pads you use to move heavy furniture. Similar to rotational discs, you can perform a variety of stay-in-place exercises, like hybrid versions of pushups, along with dynamic aerobics, such as lunges, mountain climbers and tucks for working the abs. The discs come with an instructional DVD; all you need to provide is a smooth surface. ($23)