From static bikes to ab toners, we’ve all been tempted by the promise of convenient, accessible fitness. It seems so easy. Just a small (or not so small) investment, an hour (or less) a day, and the dream of a lost half stone or a washboard stomach is ours! Let’s face it, when the gym is in the spare room there can be no more excuses, because it can’t rain and you can always find time to go there after work.
It’s foolproof! Until it isn’t. As these hilarious tales show, we often romanticise the idea of exercising at home, lost in the fantasy that next year’s Mr or Mrs Universe prize would already be in the bag if it weren’t for that pesky ten-minute walk to the gym. But regular workouts take willpower rather than fancy equipment. Read these tales of woe and we’ll show you how to workout equipment-free at the end.
“There was the exercise bike, used once then discarded in the garden to rust - the last time I looked there was a pot plant balanced on the saddle. Then there was fantastic stretchy equipment for toned arms, now sat at the side of the sofa begging to be used and being roundly ignored. I read the blogs on them, study the customer reviews, and buy them in the belief that spending the money will guilt-trip me into using them. It doesn’t. I get the best workout opening the packages. Sometimes the Sellotape is on very tight!”
“I have a kettlebell as a doorstop. Doesn’t everyone?”
“I got it into my head that a rowing machine would change my life. I’d exercise every day and get fit and toned. I read all these reports about rowing being one of the best exercises you could do. The idea just grew and grew till one day I took the plunge and ordered one off the internet. It would have been fine, except I was living in a small flat. It took up half the living room. My partner kept tripping over it. It lasted a week before I had to admit that it was a really stupid idea and sent it back. It was like the dream had died.”
“I bought a resistance band to strengthen my aging knees which was used with decreasing regularity until one evening it was nowhere to be seen. Weeks later I found it in my eight-year-old daughter’s soft toys being used as some sort of Fifty Shades-style restraint, binding Care Bear and Plush Hedgehog together. Prickly.”
“It’s funny, the other night I looked at the thing I drape my clothes on at bedtime and thought, ‘didn’t that used to be something else?’. I’d completely forgotten those heady days when I ordered an ab toner from Amazon along with a Davina McCall fitness DVD. Between the two they were going to change my life. I toned my abs about five times in total. It’s great as a clothes rack though, just the right height…”
The gift of strength
“I bought a set of weights thinking I’d be Iron Mike Tyson, but quite frankly it was too much like hard work. The results weren’t instant, so I gave up. But the good news is that, a few months later, I wrapped them up and gave them to my brother for his 40th birthday. It saved me a few quid, and I’ve never seen him use them either.”
“I went to a yoga sample session, thought ‘this is for me’ and bought a yoga mat. I went to three more sessions and haven’t been since. That was 2014. The cat sleeps on it now.”
Working out without forking out
To prevent you from making any rash home exercise equipment impulse buys, we asked Jonathan Taylor, senior personal trainer and deputy head of education at Ultimate Performance to share with us his top tips for equipment-free workouts.
- Cardio doesn’t have to be done in the gym. There are low-intensity options like going for a walk or bike ride and high-intensity options, such as sprint intervals (if you are going to do sprints, run on grass to soften the impact on your joints). To start, try aiming for 10,000 walking steps per day and performing 1-2 interval workouts per week.
- Attend a yoga or pilates class at your local studio. Once you’ve learned a few moves, factor them into your home workouts.
- You need to do resistance work too for strength and toning, but a limitation of bodyweight exercises (using your own body as resistance, without weights or equipment) is that it is difficult - but not impossible - to increase the challenge over time, because you can’t add more weight. Instead, try aiming for more reps, performing more sets, reducing your rest interval or some combination of all three.
- Follow a programme consistently. Getting into the regular exercise habit is most important.