Six fitness equipment essentials for home workouts

Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Often times, the simplest methods of movement—such as walking, jogging, and performing equipment-free bodyweight exercises—can be the most beneficial means of getting and staying fit. This is great news, as it means you can achieve an effective and well-balanced exercise regimen without any fancy, high-cost fitness equipment!

Nonetheless, having access to a few essential pieces of fitness equipment can boost motivation and add variety and intensity to your workouts. Whether you’re thinking about creating your own home gym or just looking for some portable items to enhance your workouts on the go, here is a list of six home fitness equipment tools to get you started:

Resistance bands
Resistance bands are bands or tubes with elastic properties that can be used for muscle strength and endurance exercises. They come in various sizes and degrees of intensity and are incredibly versatile and portable. Resistance bands can often be purchased in variety packs containing light, medium and heavy resistance. If you’re new to exercise, choose the light resistance band or look for the variety pack.

A kettlebell is a cast-iron, ball-shaped weight with a single handle. Kettlebells are typically sold and used individually but can be used in pairs. You can use a kettlebell for complex, dynamic movements like swings and snatches, as well as in exchange for any move you might perform using a dumbbell. Kettlebells can weigh anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds or higher. If you’re new to kettlebell training, choose a kettlebell between 5 and15 pounds.

Dumbbells are a great tool for concentrating on upper body strength and can be used to add intensity to lower body strength exercises such as lunges or squats. Dumbbells are sold in pairs and range in weight from 1 to 100 pounds or more. If you’re new to strength training, choose a pair of 3-5 pound dumbbells. If you want more variety and are willing to invest a little extra, purchase a light and a heavy set or look for a pair of adjustable dumbbells.

Stability ball or balance trainer
A stability ball is a large, air-filled ball that can be used to challenge balance, core strength and stability. A balance trainer is an air-filled, dome-shaped half ball mounted to a hard platform that can be used in a similar way to the stability ball. When shopping for a stability ball, keep in mind they come in different sizes. Taller individuals will need a bigger ball while shorter individuals will need a smaller ball. Check the product packaging or do an internet search for stability ball size charts before purchasing.

Yoga or exercise mat
A mat is essential for kneeling exercises, as it provides cushion for your joints. Using a mat will also prevent you from slip-sliding on your hardwoods or picking up carpet lint and other debris every time you perform an exercise lying on the ground.

Foam roller
A foam roller is a recovery tool used to massage areas of soreness or tightness either pre- or post-workout. Foam rollers come in different sizes and densities, and not all are created equal. A 24-inch foam roller is useful for your legs, but spring for the 36-inch foam roller if you plan to use it on your back. For the best results, choose a foam roller made with high-density material.

When shopping for fitness equipment, look for products that come with an instructional booklet or video link, so that you’ll know how to use your new tools properly.

To find free follow-along workout videos you can do anywhere without ANY equipment, visit

Kendra Rorabaugh is supervisor of Group Fitness and Aquatics Programs at the Prisma Health Life Center® Health & Conditioning Club.

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