While some gyms are now starting to re-open, so many of us have experienced the convenience of working out at home that we may not even go back! Gyms were just permitted to open at 33% last week here in New York City, but I’m not sure that I feel comfortable going back to a shared workout space just yet.
During quarantine, I’ve challenged myself to stay active as best I can, which has led me to new workout videos, equipment and even training for my first half marathon. While it hasn’t been easy to be my own workout instructor, here are five products that have made my home gym almost as good as the real thing:
1. Yoga Gear: Mat, Block, Strap and Book
During stressful times, taking time at the end of my day for a quick yoga flow has been extremely beneficial to my mental health. For me, yoga has always helped me relieve stress, any soreness from harder workouts, and has helped me learn to listen to my body and calm my mind. I love all types of yoga classes (hot yoga, power yoga and even goat yoga ) but for right now we are stuck doing Vinyasa in our living rooms! I already had all of my yoga gear pre-lockdown, but I’ve used it now more than ever.
While I got my block and strap in the dollar section of target, I invested a bit more into a mat that I know will last me a lifetime. I have the Arise Mat from Lululemon. It’s made with rubber, which means it’s super easy to clean and has an amazing grip even when you get sweaty. I’ve had this mat for 5 years now and it’s still in perfect condition. If you are new to yoga or have only done yoga in a class setting, I recommend getting a book to help figure out what poses are right for your needs and skill level. I have the Big Book of Yoga from Women’s Health, and I’m still finding new poses and flows from it even after practicing yoga for 10 years.
2. Resistance Bands
My favorite workout class of all time is Pure Barre. This low impact workout class focuses on small movements and high repetition with lots of added gear to help you feel the burn. One of my favorite (or least favorite depending on how hard the class is that day) items they use in the class are resistance bands. Not only are resistance bands good for intensifying and isolating your leg and glute workouts, but they are amazing for getting a full stretch after your workout is done. I purchased my set of bands on Amazon for less than 15 bucks and I love the different resistance levels of each band that help me diversify the intensity of my workouts. Using resistance bands at home has given me the feel of my pure barre class from the comfort of my own living room.
3. Muscle Roller
One of the best things I’ve done for myself during this lockdown is train for a half marathon. I went from not being able to run half a mile without stopping, to completing my own 13.1 in three months. I’m proud of myself for using this extra time to push myself and my body to do something completely new.
I’ve never been a runner, so my body has really had to adjust to the more high impact workouts I’ve been doing lately. To combat soreness, stiffness and muscle cramps after my long runs, I purchased a muscle roller to use before and after I get my miles in. This roller has been such a game changer and I have definitely noticed a difference in how my legs feel. I even brought it with me into the ice bath after I ran my half marathon on my birthday last week!
4. Ankle Weights
I purchased ankle weights at the beginning of quarantine because hand weights were sold out everywhere I looked. While they aren’t the most useful for any upper body workouts (I’ve tried attaching them to my wrists and it’s not the most comfortable arm workout), I have really enjoyed using them to elevate my barre workouts – it’s a deadly combo with the resistance bands! – and my walks. I got the five pound weights, and it’s the perfect level of intensity for some added resistance to my low impact workouts. I definitely use these the least out of anything I bought for my quarantine home gym, but if you have kept up with your daily lockdown walks I highly recommend them!
5. Running Vest
As I mentioned above, I became a quarantine runner! I run 3 to 4 times per week and usually go for 5 to 8 miles around Central Park. Running has become a huge stress relief in my life and I feel so accomplished every time I’ve completed my mileage goal for the day. When I first started running I was using an old Camelback to keep me hydrated and hold my stuff, but as I increased my mileage I started to have back pain from the structure of the Camelback.
After doing some research, I purchased the Ultra Pro Quick Stow Hydration Vest from Camelback. I love that this vest has two collapsible water bottles, a built in safety whistle, zipper pouches for my keys and phone and also a pouch on the back if I wanted to add a Camelback bladder for a longer run. I’ve been using it for about a month now and my posture has improved significantly- no back pain even during my half marathon!
While staying active is important right now, try to remember that you need to be kind to your body. It’s okay if your body has changed during quarantine, and being active right now should not be a punishment. We are going through so much and it is important to be thankful for all that your body has done to keep you safe and healthy during this time. Use exercise as motivation or simply as a way to pass the time, not a method to change your body. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, challenge yourself to focus only on how exercise makes you feel. I hope that these products help you keep your at home gym going strong!