I’ll be the first to admit it: Gyms are not my thing. I value personal space to an almost detrimental degree, and for the time being, the closest gym that looks somewhat clean and welcoming is a 20 minute drive away. I think that, for a beginner or someone simply looking to shed pounds, you can accomplish your goals at home with proper nutrition and a little extra space in a spare room.
I’ve made lots of mistakes over the years when it comes to accomplishing health goals, the main one being spending money on silly programs like Nutrisystem, calorie counting software, and exercise equipment that has only one use. After years of making these mistakes, I finally found out exactly what is needed to be successful in meeting home fitness and nutrition goals when space is in short supply.
You Will Need a Workout Bench
If you plan to do any strength training, this is a must. I have used flat utility benches and also standard weight benches, but I found a bench that is also a cardio workout station, and I would never recommend another bench. The Escape Fitness Deck can be used for any at home cardio or strength training workout! I have had mine for 6 months, and use it for free weights sessions, step aerobics, and resistance band workouts.
This bench is great because, while spendier than a standard utility bench, it is compact, easy to store, and has many functions. The green feet on the bottom fold under to make a shorter step bench, and the back rest has three different positions, from flat to a 90° angle. There are notches on the back rest to incorporate resistance band moves, too!
I would recommend this bench to any person looking for a sturdy, versatile bench for home strength and cardio workouts, with one warning: This bench is not going to work for taller individuals. I am 5’6 and say with confidence that any person over roughly 5’9 will have a difficult time using this bench for exercises that require lying flat on the bench, such as dumbbell presses.
You Will Need Weights
Choosing the right weights is a bit more tricky than choosing a good bench for a beginner. Weights are not cheap, and they are something that may not be useful to you forever, depending on how you plan to progress. I’m looking at you, pink weights. If you are just starting out and have never lifted weights before, you might need the pink weights.
However, even with minimal strength training sessions, you will find yourself improving rapidly over the first several weeks. That is why I am in favor of adjustable dumbbells, such as the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells. The lowest weight for each dumbbell is five pounds, so even a beginner will find these useful!
Adjustable dumbbells are more difficult to get used to than separate pairs of dumbbells, because they are bulkier, and it takes several seconds to switch out weights, but the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. If you want to try adjustable dumbbells but aren’t sure how you feel about them and want to spend less money, there are more affordable pairs available.
I could never go back to lugging separate pairs of dumbbells to my workout space, and owning these lends the added benefit of being able to progressively add weight as you get stronger without having to buy more dumbbells every few weeks!
That’s All You Need to Get Started. (Yes, Really.)
A bench and some weights is all you truly need to get started working out at home. There are plenty of paid subscription services offering fitness content, websites offering free workout plans, and apps that can help you design a workout plan that is just right for you. I will share some of my favorites soon, but in the meantime, start thinking about the health goals you hope to accomplish!