It's easy to decide that your New Year's resolution is to improve your fitness – sticking with it is the part where most people falter. And when gym memberships are a considerable outgoing, and the weather outside is so cold, it's not hard to see why.
Investing in some home fitness equipment is the answer. Everything we've included here can be used within the comfort of your own four walls, and used properly can help you improve core strength, cardio fitness and tone up those wobbly bits.
To make sure we're recommending the best kit for the job, we've enlisted the help of fitness instructor Kevin Foster-Wiltshire, founder of exercise video-streaming site GymCube. The gear on this list ranges from pieces for doing gentle exercises to those looking for help with high-impact workouts and strength training.
1. Pro Fitness Weighted Hula Hoop: £11.99, Argos
If your tummy is your problem area, a hoop can help work abs and improve core strength. The 1.3kgs to this one makes the exercises that bit more effective. Handily, you can take it apart to store.
2. Reebok Gym ball: £14.99, John Lewis
A balance ball can help with all-important core strength. So, building up your abs and muscles in your lower back, hips and pelvic floor, which affect balance, stability and posture. Use this good-value option for low-impact sit ups and back exercises. It comes with a pump, tape measure and a DVD for extra tips. Also available in a pink 55cm version.
3. Master of Muscle Mauler Foam roller: £14.99, Amazon
“Many people skip warming down in the gym because they’re in a hurry,” says Kevin Foster-Wilshire from exercise video-streaming site GymCube. “Having a foam roller at home means there’s no excuse not to give your muscles a massage in front of the TV.” Aggressive-sounding name aside, this one’s grooves help you target sore spots and it’s a good price. Comes with a useful instructional e-book, too.
4. Fitness Mad Adjustable Weighted Speed Rope: from £5.95, Dolphin Fitness
Skipping is a full-body cardiovascular workout, which helps to tone. These weighted ropes comes in three lengths – 8,9 and 10ft- so you can find one suited to your height.
5. Bulldog Gear Resistance Bands: from £9.99, Bulldog Gear
“Bands are versatile and don’t take up precious space,” says Foster-Wiltshire, who recommends using them for stretching, mobility and the same sort of exercise you’d do with weights. “Stand on one end and do bicep curls by pulling the band to your chest,” he advises. “Choose a level of resistance that pushes you.” Bulldog Gear’s bands are super strong and are sold individually. Resistance runs from 2-70kg.
6. PowerBlock Sport 2.4: £130.29, Sweatband
Short on space? “PowerBlocks are the equivalent of a having a stack of different dumbbells, but taking up a fraction of the space,” say Foster-Wiltshire. This is a good starter set for anyone one working on strength training. It replaces eight pairs of traditional weights, ranging from 1.5kg-11kg.
7. Gliding discs: £21.50, Physical Company
“Gliding discs are great for adding that extra degree of difficulty,” says Foster-Wiltshire. Balancing on something else that’s moving means muscles are working extra-hard to help you stay stable. “These can be used for lower and upper body exercises, for example, sliding lunges or sliding arm press ups,” he says. They take up very little space and there are versions for carpet or hard floors.
8. Body Sculpture Aerobic Stepper Plus: £25.99, Very
Here’s something for a cardiovascular workout that’s lower impact than skipping. This step, with a grippy surface, can be adjusted between (from 10-15cm) depending on how intense you want your session to be. Make sure the size – 63cm x 26cm – works for your routine.
9. PhysioWorld Exercise Mat: from £17.99, Amazon
There are cheaper mats out there, but this is a good thickness (choose from 10mm or 15mm), it doesn’t slide around and will minimise thuds for any downstairs neighbours. It comes with a carry strap, or for a little extra you get a bag.
10. York Fitness 10kg Fitbell Set: £25, Tesco
You might use weights like this at your gym classes and they’re great for upping the ante at home, too. This colourful set are easy to grip and come in three weight options (2.5kg, 1.5kg and 1kg). They also come in a handy case so you can easily stash them out of sight.
If you're looking for something for a low-impact workout that doesn't break the bank, opt for the Pro Fitness Weighted Hula Hoop or Reebok Gym Ball. But if you're serious about strength, and especially if you're short on space, consider the PowerBlock.
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