You can create a home gym without breaking the bank.
Below are some of our favorite and must-have pieces of equipment to help get that sweat. Improvise and create an awesome home workout when you don't feel like hitting a group fitness class, you are crunched for time (AKA ALL MOMS), or when on vacation. Click on the images below to open the link to purchase or browse the item.
You can get the essentials for under $150, which is less than a monthly gym membership in most cities!
Yoga Mat, $20 (Range $15-$50)
A yoga mat is great to have if you want to ensure a cushioned space -- no thank you rug burn or stiff hardwood. We love a lighter yoga mat that is easy to travel with and has some grip so you aren't slipping and sliding when sweaty. To be honest, Christy and I both have lululemon mats, but we also have Gaiam ones. There are lots of options with varying thickness levels, organic vs non-organic, cute patterns, etc. Don't break the bank on a mat for HIIT workouts, but if your focus is primarily hot yoga, you may want to splurge a bit more.
Set of Medium and Heavy Dumbbells, $30 Medium and $45 Heavy (Range $20 - $60)
We like the neoprene option because they are easy to grip and gentler on your floors. Two different weights are great to have on hand so that you can utilize mediums for bicep/shoulder work and heavies for lower body/chest/back work. We use 10-12 lbs for medium weights and 20 -25 lbs for heavier weights.
For lighter weights (2-5 lbs), save money and use household items like canned goods, wine bottles, or cleaning product bottles.
Mini Loop Resistance Band, $20 (Range $15 -$20)
You will want a set of looped mini bands that range from light to heavy resistance. These are hands down the biggest bang for your buck, since they are lightweight and a more affordable option over dumbbells. Perfect for travel and for home workouts, neither of us travel without! These are a staple for our Burn & Brew fundraisers, because they are an easy way to intensify any move. We love to throw the heavier resistance bands on above our knees for leg/glute work. The lighter bands can be an alternative to dumbbells for bicep/tricep/shoulder work. You can even wrap them around your feet to intensify a bicycle crunch or a plank jack/leg lift. These bands are small and compact which is definitely nice to have when your travel.
Tube Resistance Band Set, $15 (Range $15-$50)
Tube resistance bands differ from loop minibands. They can be utilized with just your bodyweight or wrapped under a bench or static object such as a post to create anchored resistance. We recommend getting a set with various resistance options. We have wrapped these bad boys around a fence/post or even a tree (when camping) and used them for unilateral lunges with a forward twist. Alternatively, attach to a higher post and utilize for lat pull down or a chest press. You can even stand on the rubber tube to perform lateral shuffles, upright rows, or bicep curls.
Jump Rope, $12 (Range $10-$30)
For those of you who don't love running or may be limited by injuries, a jump rope is a great option to have to get your heart rate up. Have you tried to jump rope recently? What was a fun recess activity is no joke as an adult. Let us know if you get the coveted double under!
IF YOU WANT TO SPLURGE or ADD ON SOME MORE FUN TOYS:
Adjustable Dumbbells (Range $160 -$350)
These dumbbells allow you to have a range of weights at your disposal. Definitely a pricey option, but also great if you want variety and have a small space. This was a must for Christy post baby, needing to get a workout in during nap time and living in a 800 square foot home. PowerBlock and Bowflex both have adjustable dumbbells on Amazon. Take a look and see if you feel this splurge is worth it. Buying two sets of dumbbells is around $75 so if you want to dish out an extra $100 or more to have a full set then this would be a wise investment.
Sandbell --Individual or Set (Range $40-$165)
If you need to get some aggression out or want a functional piece of equipment that will challenge your balance, core, and strength --look no further than a sandbell. Most exercises that can be done with a kettlebell, can also be complete with a sandbell. The neoprene is easy to grip and you can hold onto an edge for swings. Get that heart rate up further with a squat to overhead press with a slam. The possibilities are endless.
Agility Ladder Set (Range $10-$60)
A fun set up for an outdoor workout. Definitely not necessary, but a ladder makes it easier to target fast twitch reflex circuits. You can target speed and lower body by doing drills in and out of the ladder rungs. Alternatively, you can work your core and shoulders by walking hands in and out of the rungs while in a plank. The parachute is also a fun toy to add resistance to sprints. Use the cones to run suicide runs or set up stations.
Chances are that you already have some of this equipment on hand so you may just want to add a few pieces to your toolbox. We also picked budget friendly options with links to Amazon to purchase and have delivered to your home. There is always a cheaper and pricier option and it depends on your purpose for the equipment. Let us know what you decide to buy! We would love to create workouts tailored to what you have at home.
Hopefully, you feel a bit more inspired to invest in these toys and step up the home workout game!
Ives & Christy
The treadmill gets a bad rep.
Our goal is to make you a more confident treadmill runner --maybe even enjoy the run.
Dreadmill no more.
Presently, all studios are shut down in the Seattle area. We are living in unclear times and there is a lot that is unknown due to COVID-19. However, one thing I do know is that movement of any kind is still critical to physical and more importantly mental health. This post shares 3 different treadmill work outs you can do on your own. Just picture your favorite trainer encouraging you to pump your arms on a hill, lengthen your stride as you pick up speed, or keep your chin up and heart forward as you conquer your run.
Why Run on a Treadmill?
Believe us, we much prefer to run outside --trails, road, or track BUT the treadmill is a useful tool to build strength, speed, and endurance. As group fitness trainers that coach treadmill work outs, both Christy and I LOVE this piece of equipment.
A treadmill can teach you how to maintain pace. This can be difficult outdoors due to the elements (rain, wind, heat, snow), unexpected hills, or needing to abide by traffic laws. Definitely hard to maintain pace when you are constantly starting and stopping. Enter the treadmill, which allows you to pick a speed and aim for a duration to maintain that pace. I also recommend incorporating the "Talk Test" to learn your pace.
Easy Pace = Can comfortably hold a conversation or say a sentence without gasping.
Fast Pace = Can say a couple of words.
Sprint Pace = Difficult to talk at all.
Another benefit of a treadmill run, is that you can record your stride. You can look at form and note if you are scrunching your shoulders, clenching your fists, holding your breath, or have a choppy stride.
A Few Rules for Treadmill Runs
First and foremost, always warm up.
This is key to ANY workout. You wouldn't leave your house full out sprinting. You would work your way up. The treadmill is no different. Depending on what your goal is for the workout, we recommend anywhere between a 4-5 minute warm up or a full 1 mile one. It is good to take the first 1-2 minutes to play with stride. You can jog or hit some dynamic work.
Never hop off or straddle a moving treadmill.
This should seem like common sense, but I see it all the time. Individuals sprint too fast, can't control their recovery and then jump off the moving belt onto the sides of the treadmill. Umm hello you could biff it majorly or slip and ruin that pretty face. Not worth it. Also, this does not emulate real life. You wouldn't suddenly jolt to a stop mid run --unless there was a car or something unexpected...but even then it takes a few steps to slow down. Can we also take a moment to recognize, the impact of jumping off the tread also is not good for your poor joints. So control your pace, both the pick up and the cool down.
Do NOT skip the cool down.
Similar to a warm up, it's important to cool down after a hard work out. This allows your heart rate to lower gradually and your muscles to relax after HIIT training. You may cool down without realizing it on a road run because you walk it out. But it's just as important when you finish your treadmill interval. Don't you dare forget to stretch either. Often times shin splints are from tight calves. So the warm up, cool down, and stretch can prevent you from discomfort.
The Work Outs:
Below are three different workouts you can perform on the treadmill. Hill intervals build strength. Quarter mile repeats and speed intervals, well those build speed obviously. The pyramid run is one of our favorites for training the body how to control and maintain speed. Together: strength and speed can help build your endurance.
I also included a pace calculator link so that you understand how mph on tread translates.
You can do this on road by finding a hill or stair set in your neighborhood. Hold a fast pace or run up the hill and jog back down. Repeat the hill interval. In Seattle, the Howe Street Stairs are a challenging set to build strength on. I would say pick a hill that is not too daunting, like Queen Anne Hill. This should be challenging but doable!
You can do this on the road by holding a set fast pace for the 3 minute, 2 minute, and 1 minute runs and trying to maintain your jog pace for the recovery portions. It's fun to even cue up your playlist and hit shuffle. Make it a game and for female artists hold a fast run and then male artists it's your jog. This can definitely be a game of Russian Roulette though ;).
Quarter Mile Repeats
To determine your "fast pace", you need to know your average pace for 1 mile in a short distance i.e. a 5k/8k/10k. Example, if your average pace for a 5k is 8 min/mile. Your goal for 0.25 miles is 2 minutes (7.5 mph on tread). So you should try to run 0.25 miles and maintain that time and easy recover for 2 minutes before repeating. If you want to make it more challenging, allow less time for the recovery i.e. 1 minute.
You can do this on the road by wearing a watch like Garmin or using an app like Nike Run Club and programming the workout or just paying attention to the distance and time intervals. A track is great, because 1 loop is ~0.25 miles or 400 m.
*Bonus* Pyramid Run
Remember to set yourself up for success. Proper warm up and cool down is a MUST.
Some days you may hit slower paces or need longer recoveries and that is OKAY.
Some days you may feel unstoppable.
Just keep showing up for yourself and each other in these uncertain times.
Written by Ives Hot, ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor
Wow it's been a minute since we shared a post. A lot has happened in the past couple of months. Kaila Jae is turning ONE this month, we have both ran and PR'd races, and I am joining the FIERCE club of mamas in May 2020. Oh yes, pregnant and THRIVING. Thrive is my word for 2020 and my goal is to be a resource for women in Seattle that are embarking on this journey, are thinking of pregnancy in the future, or are post-partum.
Let me preface this by saying that as a fitness instructor one of the first concerns I had when I found out I was pregnant was how will I need to adapt my workouts. I was in the peak of my marathon training cycle and initially my worry was how do I need to adjust my training and nutrition to run a successful race. As I started my web search for pregnancy and running, I quickly realized that I would also need to adjust my HIIT strength training. My goal here is to share helpful modifications to make other women feel comfortable in strength training classes as they embark on this wild pregnancy journey! I am going to talk about some of the science behind what is happening in your body, break down moves by trimester, and give you confidence to keep showing up in class for YOURSELF and that BABE.
This post serves as a guide based on expert opinions and guidelines that are available. However, you should always check in with your OB/GYN and listen to their advice about exercise and pregnancy. Pregnancy is also not the time to suddenly become a workout fiend, if you weren't active at baseline.
WHY SHOULD I MODIFY MY CORE EXERCISES?
If you're new to pregnancy, you may be wondering why you should change what you're doing before you have a big old belly in the way. Even if you aren't showing, in the first trimester your uterus starts to grow and expand to make room for baby -- this means your abs start to stretch. Towards the end of your first trimester, beginning of the second trimester you will want to check for diastasis recti (DR).
Diastasis = separation
Recti = abs
DR describes the abnormal separation of your left and right abdominal wall, which appears as a gap between the two sides. It is normal for your abs to separate slightly during pregnancy to make room for baby, but a separation greater than 2 centimeters is thought to be abnormal. When you have DR and crunch up, you may notice "coning" or a ridge that occurs in the center of your belly. But why is DR bad? Generally, DR is bothersome because it can cause lower back pain, urinary incontinence, constipation, and at times makes vaginal delivery more difficult. In rare cases DR can lead to hernia formation due to there being a thinner layer of tissue allowing the organs to poke out.
DR can happen with any pregnancy, but is more common when women carry twins, have had multiple pregnancies, or are shorter in stature. Based on "What to Expect," if you develop a 3 finger width separation between your abs, you definitely need to modify your core exercises. Modify does not equate to STOP exercising. A strong core supports a strong pelvic floor and you definitely want that for delivery.
You may be one of the lucky mamas and not feel any symptoms (nausea, aversions, fatigue) until halfway through the first trimester. If you are experiencing those symptoms --it's okay, you aren't alone and hopefully that all improves in the second trimester. In regards to adjusting exercises this early on there are lots of expert and not-so expert opinions. Again, please be aware that most of the articles that are available are written based on expert opinion and don't necessarily have strong data supporting them.
There is a camp of individuals that feels strongly that you should not "do crunches." The reasoning behind this strong stance is that a "sit-up" or crunch motion places more pressure on the rectus abdominus (left and right more surface layer ab muscles). There is also some conflicting data from the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, that demonstrated how abdominal crunch exercises performed during pregnancy actually shortened the inter-rectus distance from gestational week 35-41 through 14 weeks post-partum. If you don't want to stop traditional ab exercises, you can modify them by placing a wedge or ball behind your back for additional support. Ultimately, unless any exercises are causing discomfort or pain you do not need to modify during the first trimester. However, if you are more apprehensive about developing DR, you can focus more on oblique and transverse abdominus strengthening exercises.
Example 1: Side Plank
Example 2: Bird Dog
By now you may be starting to look pregnant, especially if you are having twins or this is your second or third (or more) babe. If your bump seems small, don't stress either. We all grow and show differently in this phase of pregnancy and it can be hard to hear comments from friends, family or strangers about your body. For Christy and I, we both did not show until later into our second trimester. Try not to compare yourself to other mamas or if you aren't pregnant yet, try not to mom shame. Whether you outwardly look preggers or not, chances are that YOU have noticed a change in your abdomen by now. It's wild to think of everything going on inside your body. Your uterus has grown much larger to make room for baby, amniotic fluid, and the placenta and clothes feel tighter (hello stretchy pants #BLESS).
Because your body is changing, you may start to feel differently about your typical exercises and in turn need more modifications. Personally, at about 18 weeks is when I started to modify my abdominal exercises. I am now at 22 weeks and continue to exercise 6 days per week, including running, cycling, HIIT, and strength work. I still do Barry's classes about 4x per week and although I am a bit more breathless, I continue to hit sprints on that treadmill albeit a bit slower. (For perspective: My baseline is an endurance athlete and I ran the NYC Marathon at 13 weeks pregnant.)
I no longer perform abdominal exercises that involve a full range sit up, v-up, jack knife, or bicycle crunch. Basically, any fast tempo or quick diagonal ab exercise I view as off limits and I rather focus on slow-controlled exercises that allow for breath to be connected to movement. You can also continue traditional or side planks and the bird dog mentioned above if it feels good.
Exercise 1: Knee Hover or Mountain Climber March
Exercise 2: Deadbug or Heel March
Exercise 3: Heavy Lifting Moves i.e. Deadlift, Squat, Lunge
You are in the final stretch mama! Things are feeling really REAL as you feel baby moving daily, don't sleep as comfortably, and probably start to move a bit slower. You are not alone in how you feel and can always reach out to Christy and I with questions, concerns, or stories. There is no such thing as TMI when you're growing a human!
This is also when you really start modifying exercises to feel more comfortable and to try to reduce DR. The pressure from intra-abdominal flexion can cause that "coning" or ridge to appear. You are going to want to avoid traditional ab exercises by this point if you have been hanging on to them.
Exercise 1: Plank
Exercise 2: Modified Bird Dog
Exercise 3: Heavy Lifting Moves i.e. Deadlift, Squat, Lunge
Alright we have covered A LOT. I hope you feel empowerd to show up for yourself and that babe in the gym or your next group fitness class and have some tools to adjust ab exercises when they come up. Don't worry you're not alone on this journey. Just remember to notify the instructor that you are pregnant and will be modifying! This post is based off literature searches on PubMed, Lexicomp, as well as opinions from fitness experts that wrote for Shape Magazine, Parents website, What to Expect, and Bump. Another great resource I found in my research was the Pregnancy Guide from Expecting and Empowered.
CONQUER YOUR SUMMIT,