5 affordable pieces of equipment for your home gym
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YOU don't need to have a movie star budget to have your own home gym, after all, anything can be used as substitute for some of the pieces you'd find in a fitness centre. All you need is a dedicated space in your house or your backyard, and then you can work on outfitting it.

You can even start simple; for example, pouring cement in paint cans or baby formula containers, then placing metal in the middle for making a great barbell. Your clothes line post can be your hanging pull-up bar, and a child's skipping rope is fine for your skip routine, at least when you're just starting out. The important thing is starting.

And once you've started, every month you can invest in a new piece, so you can get fit in the comfort of your own home.

Here are five affordable pieces that personal trainer Lennox Richards said should be part of your home gym.

Resistance band

This multifunctional band can be used for many exercises, including for strength training, assisted pull-ups, tension training and warm-ups. It will work out your arms, back and legs. The good thing about this versatile band is that it is very affordable, and can be used in a lot of different ways. For many of the bands, the amount of resistance can be adjusted by giving more or less slack on the band.

"You can use the resistance band to shape your body, as it will help with increasing toning, sculpting and strengthening of your core and legs," Richards said. "You will tone your muscles and burn fat, once you're consistent."

Dumbbell set

A set of cast iron dumbbells in various weight categories is ideal for resistance training.

"When you use dumbbells you activate a number of different muscles in your body, and stimulate muscle growth," Richards said. "Using them can help improve both muscle force and flexibility, and they can also promote coordination and stability for your muscles and joints."

He said it's important to get different weights, because as your routine gets more technical, you will need to increase your weight complement.

Workout jump rope

Jumping rope is a great calorie-burner which improves your balance, quickness and coordination by making your mind focus on your feet for sustained periods of time. This is an all-body exercise that will improve the muscle tone in your entire body.

"Jumping rope is great for cardio training and a fun way to get in shape fast," Richards said. "It allows you to burn calories and get in a great workout whether you are skipping or just jumping."

Exercise ball

This is a one equipment for all types of workouts — for pilates, yoga and other low-impact exercises.

"They're also called stability balls, and they improve your balance, muscle tone and core strength," Richards said.

"You can use the exercise ball during your warm-up, to stretch your muscles before you start your workout," Richards said. "It can also be used to expand your range of motion during certain exercises like crunches and sit-ups."

He said when you use it properly, it will strengthen your abdominal and lower back muscles, and also help you develop and keep a healthy posture.

Exercise bike

If you're going to invest in a large piece, the exercise bike should be a consideration. It uses no power, takes up less space than larger pieces of equipment, and is very effective for working your legs and thighs, as well as your arms.

"Many bikes come with a digital monitor to track your exercise time, speed, distance, calories and pulse, so that you can know your progress and adjust your exercise plan in time," Richards said. "This is an efficient and effective way to burn calories and body fat while strengthening your heart, lungs and muscles. It will give you an excellent aerobic workout."

LICHELLE PALMER

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