By Thomas Mitchell, April 21, 2020
When gyms were closed in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, I nodded along dutifully. It was a sensible decision, but a small part of me began to worry. Looming on the other side of this pandemic was my (postponed) wedding, so despite being sent indoors, I wanted to maintain a workout routine.
Which is how I found myself pacing the aisles of Big W, panic purchasing anything that seemed remotely fitness related. The result was a hilariously mismatched setup. But it turns out my panic was not only a waste of money but a waste of time.
When it comes to setting up a functional home gym, less is more, according to personal trainer Jeremy Tunkunas, director of Body Fit Training.
“Forget the bells and whistles and pick versatile equipment that focuses on strength and full-body workouts,” Tunkunas says. “You don’t need to spend a fortune to stay fit and healthy at home.” (So glad I kept the receipt for that Vibrating Power Plate.)
With self-isolation the new normal for the foreseeable future, Tunkunas was kind enough to share his top four at-home gym essentials to keep you on track.
With gym equipment overtaking toilet paper in the hoarding hierarchy, resistance bands are Tunkunas’ pick for both functionality and availability.
“They’re cheap, should be easy to track down and will offer a variety of different options for a self-isolated session, perfect for in-house glute, leg and arm workouts,” he says. “The most important thing I use them for though is stretching before and after a workout. They’re so helpful in getting that full range, so your muscles are properly warmed up.”
DIY alternative: Old tights or stockings. Anything with a bit of elasticity should do the trick.
“Dumbbells can pretty much be used or any lift-based exercise,” Tunkunas says. “For your home gym, I recommend an adjustable set that you can add or remove weight to as needed.”
If you’re keen to sweat, start light and opt for high intensity exercises like dumbbell punches, shoulder raises or incline press. And when you’re looking to add bulk, pump up the weight.
“Heavier dumbbells are good for compound exercises, which engage different muscle groups so we’re talking squats, dumbbell deadlifts and weighted lunges,” Tunkunas explains.
DIY alternative: Fill two water bottles with sand and you’ve got a DIY-dumbell. Canned vegetables also make a good substitute.
“The kitchen chair offers a little bit of everything,” Tunkunas says. “You can use it for step-ups, box jumps or tricep dips or as a bench during weight workouts. If you can, try to pick a chair that is the same width as your shoulders so you can keep all your exercises sturdy and square.”
Because of their odd design, kettlebells engage your core muscles which make them the perfect equipment to hit as many muscle groups at once.
“Try kettlebell swings or a classic clean and press for a solid full body workout,” Tunkunas says. “[And] you can use the kettlebell for Pilates-based mat routines, which will tighten and tone your core. Plus they can be packed away easily once you’re done.”
DIY alternative: Laundry detergent bottles are usually bottom-heavy making it the perfect pretend kettlebell.