A fully effective and rounded exercise regime can be done at home or in the garden with minimal equipment, so there really is no need for a gym membership. Of course if you like going to the gym, and find that having to go somewhere specifically to exercise where there are other like minded people exercising is motivational and means that you stick with it, then by all means stick with it! But for most people who want to get fit and lean there are tons of fun options that you can do on your own. Home training has several advantages; there’s no sitting in traffic, it tends to be functional (more on this later), it’s more time effective, there is less risk of being outpaced by either a young hot teenager (embarrassment) or a decrepit pensioner (embarrassment AND shame), you can keep an eye on any young children/babies that need looking after, it’s cheaper and there is less kit needed.
Lots of recent research shows that training for a shorter period of time at a higher intensity more often is much more effective than 2 or 3 epic gym visits a week, and training at home also fits the bill for this. The number one home training exercise that requires no kit at all except a snazzy pair of leggings and a good pair of trainers is running. It works lots of muscle groups, is outdoorsy (good for the mind as well as the body) and burns more calories per minute than almost any other form of exercise. Provided you have stable pain free joints all levels of athlete can run, so if you are a beginner you could try some run/walk intervals and do 10 single minutes of each. The more advanced might be able to do a really fast run for 2 minutes and then a slower jog for 1 minute or even 30 seconds and so on. It’s also weight bearing so will keep those creaky bones strong. For a bit more money you could get a bicycle and do some cycling, although less intense than running it’s much more suited to those with knee problems.
Perhaps the best way to train at home though is to do circuit based training. Many of our home based personal trainer clients are put through these circuit type sessions and will testify that they are challenging, fun and effective. At it’s most simple circuit training is a combination of different exercises that are done in a sequence to save time, keep it varied and keep the heart rate up for the maximum amount of calories burned. A good example of this popular with the A-listers is the 25 minute skipping circuit; skip for 5 minutes, then for 15 minutes do a circuit of 15-20 push ups, 15-20 lunges, 15-20 bent over rows or bent over flys, 15-20 squats with a dumbbell shoulder press. Finish with another 5 minutes skipping. Repeat 4 times a week for 5-6 weeks and hey presto you will be a yummy mummy or toned goddess. All you need is a skip rope and a pair of dumbbells; 5kg will be suitable for most. You could also try a similar circuit with a kettlebell which will elevate your heart rate even further, or combine running with body weight exercises for a real back to basics session. Boxing gloves and a bag are also a great way to get the lungs going while toning the upper body: incorporate 2-4 minutes of this with an exercise circuit like the skipping one above. Resistance bands are great to, as is the TRX suspension trainer http://www.trx-fitness.com. Lots of things in the home can be used too: use 2 litre water bottles instead of free-weights, use stairs as an exercise machine, and likewise with steps. The key as with all exercise s to go beyond your comfort zone, get breathless and sweaty. If in any doubt see your GP or get a personal trainer in to run you through a programme. Even if it’s just for a couple of sessions it’s well worth it to ensure you are dong everything at the right level and the right way.