Often when I’d tell someone I worked as an in-home personal trainer they assume my clients possessed lavish workout rooms, complete with TVs, full cardio and weight set-ups, and maids scurrying around dusting off priceless Ming vases.
Yes, a few of my wealthier clients had some of these things. But most did not.
I’ve worked out in dark, dank basements worthy of teenage horror movies and many a bedroom and playroom that doubled for workout space. And not everyone had bags of money, either.
One client, a waitress, paid me out of her tips and would hand me a fistful of singles at the end of our sessions.
Most people did own some equipment (usually a treadmill) that hadn’t been turned on since 1973. Further archeological digs around the house would turn up artifacts from other eras: thigh masters, ab rollers and other late night infomercial purchases.
I imagined these were impulse buys made with one hand on the remote and the other in a carton of Chunky Monkey with determined declarations such as, “This is it! I vow to start getting in shape as of right now!” as the empty ice cream carton gets ceremoniously dumped into the trash.
Once the magical equipment purchase arrived, angels sang, promises were made, goals set and a New Fitness Era begun!
Flash forward one month.
Like a misfit toy, the once revered equipment ends up used maybe twice, after which it’s tossed aside and stuffed in a carton in the garage next to a candle-making project and a Rosetta Stone Spanish speaking lesson series.
The good news: Getting in shape does not require any special equipment.
The bad news: You can’t work out once or twice and expect the results to carry forward on their own, whether it’s a cheapo plastic bust developer or a financed-for-six-months gym worthy multitasking gadget.
You need to use it. Consistently. Most people quit before they finish paying for the thing.
In fact, I discovered the cost of fitness equipment was not always relative to the motivation of the purchaser. During more than one initial interview I found myself standing next to an expensive treadmill cleverly cloaked in a king-sized comforter. “It’s great for drying blankets, too,” one client told me.
And here’s the thing. Even if a client owned elaborate fitness equipment, I used it sparingly when we worked together. Machines can be limiting. They typically isolate a muscle in a way you wouldn’t normally use it in real life. Exceptions include pulley and cable type machines, which more accurately mimic free weights.
Using your own body weight means you have to engage your core, balance and bring other muscles into play to “assist” the main working muscle. As a result, you also burn more calories along with reaping the many additional strength benefits.
To prove my point, here’s an example of a simple total body workout you can do in your home without a stitch of equipment. Try it and let me know what you think…
Put on some music (not the TV, which can be too distracting), clear a small space and get moving:
1. Warm up: March, walk or run in place (or around the room if it’s large enough) for the length of a 3 to 5 minute song; vary your pace, keep knees high
2. Squat (partial or full) 30 to 60 seconds
3. Hip bridges (12 to 15x)
4. Calf raises (12 to 15x)
5. Push-ups (12 or as many as you can get – wall, chair or floor)
6. Dips on floor (12 or as many as you can get)
Use this same form on the floor (video in the making!)
7. Biceps curls with a gallon of milk or other household object (12 to 15 reps)
8. Lateral raises (using two water bottles)
9. Planks (do these against a wall or on the floor on hands or forearms)
10. Stretch/foam roll
And please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below! I’d love to hear from you. Spread the work to all your ageless friends, too. I’d be forever grateful ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ !
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Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.