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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alright, we might be talking about fitness that’s a little closer to your couch than your doorstep. We know that you’re probably tired of hearing how you don’t have to go to a gym to stay fit — but, today, we’re actually going to show you how to do it. Dev Goswami & Shirley Mistry tell you what exercises you can do on your own and show you how to build your own home gym

Gym memberships come at a price these days — a very hefty price! So, it’s understandable if you don’t want to shell out thousands of rupees every six months, just so that you can pretend to use a few machines, once or twice a week. If going to the gym is becoming a pain and getting a personal trainer is a distant dream, working out at home should be your go-to option. Not only will it help you save money, it will also cut down on travel time, since all you have to do is get up and get going. Read on as we tell you what exercises to perform and what equipment is worth buying if you’re in it for the long haul.

Set up an exercise corner
Before you get started, you need to make sure that you have a dedicated workout corner. You may not have the luxury of space like you would in a gym, but devoting even a small portion of your living room or bedroom to building a workout zone will help you stick to a routine. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Choose a spot
Choosing where you want to set up your home gym is not just about scouting for the emptiest area in the room. You need to ensure that it is a well-lit corner, with surroundings that won’t de-motivate or distract you. Avoid spots that are near your television or the kitchen and unless your window faces a quiet, scenic location, keep your curtains closed to stay focused while you exercise.

Get organised
Install a few cabinets, hooks and shelves so that your equipment isn’t lying around. It will give your workout a little order and make it seem like a permanent routine. This arrangement will also allow you to clean the area, without having to move a tonne (sometimes literally!) of weights, mats and exercise balls.

Install a mirror
Do you know why gyms have mirrors? It’s not so that you can take selfies — though that’s what they’re mostly used for these days. They’re actually there so that you can keep track of your posture and correct it when you need to. For the same reason, install one in your workout space at home. Ensure that you get one that is a few feet taller, as well as wider than you are, to make sure that your movements don’t get cut off.

Workout journal
This is one of the best ways to get good results at home. Having a workout journal will help you keep track of the sets, reps and muscle groups that you concentrate on. While writing your journal, dedicate a few pages to recording easy exercise steps so that you have a quick reference guide on hand in case you forget a particular exercise. Also include ones that aren’t a part of your plan but work the same group of muscles, so that you have an alternative for when you get bored of performing the same exercise repeatedly.


First aid
It is extremely important to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet, to treat injuries and sprains, whether you’re working out at home or not. This is incredibly important, because if you don’t treat minor injuries in time, they might get aggravated, hampering your routine. Ensure that your first aid kit includes pressure bandages and muscle relief creams
and sprays.

A music system
This is an important element that you might forget about. Music raises your energy levels and motivates you to work out. While listening to music on your iPod can often do the trick, installing a pair of speakers near your workout spot will help you work out without being tempted to stop and switch songs too often. Create a playlist so that your workout music is tailor-made to
suit you.

Know what to pick
Since you don’t have a trainer, knowing what exercises you should perform at home can be challenging. Don’t worry, as we sorted through various exercises to bring you a few that are safe and require no equipment.

Squats: We can’t recommend squats enough! They work your thighs, glutes and your core, all in one swift move. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your hands outstretched. Lower yourself into a squat, shifting your body weight on to your heels. Stop when you assume a position that is similar to sitting on a chair; hold the position for five seconds and then stand up again. If you find this difficult, do it over a couch, so that you know how low to go when you are performing the first half of the squats.

Overhead lunges: These engage several different muscle groups, helping your body stretch. The easiest way to do an overhead lunge is to hold on to something over your head. You can use anything, even a broom will work. Start off with your hands over your head, holding the broom in between. Then, step in to the lunge, but ensure not to take too big a step. The correct way to do this is to ensure that your knees aren’t stretched out farther than your toes.

Calf raises: These give your ankles, calves and hamstring an intense workout. The exercise works better if you have a step-stool or a step, but doing it on the floor will work just as well. If you are standing on a step, make sure that half your foot is on the step and the other half is off it. Start off by standing on your toes, hold the position for two counts and then lower yourself for one count. A few repetitions are all you need to give your hamstrings and calves a solid workout.

Step-ups: Make sure you have a stable chair before you get started, because a rickety one can lead to serious injuries. All you need to do is stand on the chair and then get back down, using alternate legs to step up and step back down. Put the chair against a wall for added support before you perform this exercise, which will work your butt and legs.

Tricep dips: You’ll need a chair for this one too and it will give your upper body a rigorous workout. Stand with your back to the chair and lower your body in such a manner that you grip the edge of the chair with your hands. Extend the rest of your body till it is in a straight line — this is your starting position. Now, dip your body lower, putting all your weight on your arms and come back up.

Bird Dog: Begin on all fours, ensuring that your palms are in line with your shoulders. Extend your right leg backwards and simultaneously, extend your right arm forward, so that the right side of your body forms a straight line. Maintain your balance without arching your back and slowly return to your starting position. Then, repeat it with your other arm and leg to complete one repetition of the exercise.

Superman Back extension: Lie down on your stomach, stretch your arms out in front of you and lift them off the ground, as if you are flying. Then, lift your legs and upper body off the ground, with only your pelvis touching the floor. Hold the position for three counts before lowering your legs and torso on to the floor.

Get equipped
Once you’ve set up a home gym, the next step is to buy a few workout essentials that will serve you well. While you can even use household items as exercise props (see box), some equipments are a must-have, while others you can do without. Read on to find out more:

Exercise mat: From cushioning your feet to you have a good grip (bare feet can slip easily on tiles), an exercise mat is the first thing that you should buy. These mats are inexpensive and easy to store.

Dumbbells: Rather than lusting after a barbell set, simply buy a pair of dumbbells with adjustable weights. You can perform most of the barbell exercises with dumbells as well.

Pull-up bar: This is something that no household item can replace. A pull-bar is cheap and works as a great fitness tool. It is extremely easy to install (just make sure you get a good one with sturdy grips) and it will help you perform exercises that target your arms, chest and abs.

Exercise ball: Great for stretching as well as to help you perform exercises such as crunches, an exercise ball will take up space, but it will be worth it.

Resistance bands: Resistance bands make strength training easier and more effective. You can also perform a variety of yoga poses using these bands in order to increase intensity.

Punching bag: Get this when you’re ready to take your workout to the next level. A punching bag will improve your stability, speed and strength. It also makes for a great stress-buster!

Treadmill: Do you really want to spend an exorbitant amount on buying a treadmill, just to avoid taking a walk around your neighbourhood? There is nothing wrong with buying this, but it will not be worth your money.

Elliptical trainer: Like a treadmill, all an elliptical trainer does is simulate a lot of everyday activities such as running and climbing stairs.

Trampoline: While the trampoline workout sounds interesting, spending thousands of rupees to buy one doesn’t make any sense.

Ab trainer: For the money they cost, ab trainers don’t provide enough benefits. The effects are just marginally better than performing a set of crunches. A medicine ball is a better, not to mention, cheaper, alternative.

The alternatives
Several household items make for fantastic gym equipment. Here’s a list:
Water bottles: Bottles filled with one or half a litre of water, can easily replace dumbbells.

A sturdy foot stool: Find a foot stool with sturdy legs and rubber ends, as they work well if you want to intensify normal push-ups. You can even perform leg raises on them.

A sturdy chair: A chair, similar to the foot stool we mentioned above, is a very good workout prop. There are numerous chair workouts you can find that will allow you to squeeze a little fitness into your day.

Stairs: Okay, these might not be in your home, but they are too good to not be included in this list. All you have to do is run (yes, we mean run) up and down the stairs for a 10 minutes and you’ll get a great cardio workout.

A rucksack: Stuff an empty rucksack with old magazine, newspapers and heavy cardboard (if you can find some). Now, use this as a weight. Be careful, because a rucksack will be unstable and might slip from your hands, injuring you.

Best home fitness guides
Take a look at these workout guides to get a headstart on your home fitness routine.

The Biggest Loser workout
This TV show has been around for years now, and with the jaw-dropping results that it delivers season after season, their home workout is worth giving a try. It involves no equipment and is easy enough for beginners.
Where: www.biggestloser.com

With over 12 lakh subscribers, FitnessBlender has a tremendous following on YouTube. Run by a husband and wife team, they offer free workout videos, workout routines and healthy diet plans.
Where: www.youtube.com/user/FitnessBlender

The Fitness Book
Aptly titled, this book is perfect for those discovering fitness and covers everything from swimming, running and resistance training, to yoga and pilates. Apart from containing over 500 hundred exercises, this book also has several questionnaires that will help identify the correct diet and exercise plan for you.
Where www.amazon.in (`799, currently available for `510)

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