Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fitness Products Recommendations

I originally posted this on the 6th but realized yesterday that it had disappeared from the blog. I didn't know how long it had actually survived so I decided to repost it. After a frustrating search for a cached copy, I finally found one. My apologies to anyone who may have already read this info.

I often see people on the internet asking about different fitness products. Sometimes there's little difference between the cheap brand and the more expensive brand; sometimes there is.

You don't need a ton of equipment to get a good workout but there are some items that I definitely think can enhance the experience.

Here are a few items I recommend:

GymBoss Interval Timer

I'm not usually not one of those people who gets off on gadgets but I love my GymBoss. If you're a regular reader, you know that I'm a big proponent of interval training. Cardio intervals, bodyweight intervals, Tabata training, etc. The GymBoss is an inexpensive and convenient way to keep track of your intervals.

You can set it for 1 time or 2 different times. For example, you can program it to beep every 30 seconds if you're doing a bodyweight circuit or you can program it for a 20 second work and 10 second rest Tabata workout or any combination of times for other interval training. There is also a handy clip, which is helpful when I'm running outside.

To get the most out of your workout, you need to focus on the exercise at hand. Trying to keep track of the time is an unnecessary distraction which the GymBoss eliminates.

You can get your's here.

Plate Mates

In lower weight dumbbells, you can easily find a slightly heavier weight to progress to. At Body & Soul, I have 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 pound dumbbells. However, once you hit 15 pounds, the dumbbells increase by 5 pounds.

That can be a big jump, especially for some exercises and that's where Plate Mates come in. Each pair contains two 1 1/4 pound magnetic weights that attach to each end of the dumbbell. So, instead of trying to jump from 15 pounds up to 20, you can make 17.5 pound dumbbells using Plate Mates.

Just a reminder- because they are magnetic, they only work on metal dumbbells. Also, you'll need to get two pairs because you need two Plate Mates per dumbbell.

PlateMate Micro Loading 5/8 Pound Hex Weight Plate - 1 Pair

Thera-Band Stability Balls

When I first saw exercise balls popping up at gyms, I thought they were probably just another gimmick. I was wrong. While I have no use for the crazy acrobatic "functional" exercises some trainers have their clients perform, I have found stability balls to be a valuable addition to any gym. If you work out at home, an exercise ball is an excellent way to greatly increase the number of exercises you can do.

I have always used Thera-Band stability balls at the gym. They're a quality product used by many physical therapists and they're very sturdy.

I've read comments by exercisers who had to constantly refill their balls or whose cat had burst multiple cheap exercise balls, etc. I very occasionally need to top off my Thera-Band balls with some air but they get used every day by many members.

If you are 5'1" - 5'6", you would get a 55cm (red).

For those 5'7 - 6'1", go with the 65cm (green).

If you have exceptionally long legs and are close to the upper height range, you may want to go with the next size up.

Thera-Band Exercise Balls

Spri Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are another item you can find at many discount stores and they may be fine. I haven't had a lot of experience with different brands. An aerobics instructor once told me that she had tried different kinds in her classes and found Spri bands to be the most durable. They're the ones I use at Body & Soul and I've been happy with the quality.

Each band below comes with a door attachment and exercise chart. Regardless of which brand you buy, you will probably do best to get at least two different resistances because you'll be able to use more resistance on some exercises than others- just like with dumbbells. (Please don't tell that you do all your exercises with the same weight. If so, you're definitely doing yourself a disservice.)

The different colors signify different resistances, going from "light" to "very heavy"

SPRI ES500R Xertube Resistance Band with Door Attachment and Exercise Charts (Green, Light)

SPRI ES501R Xertube Resistance Band with Door Attachment and Exercise Charts (Red, Medium)

SPRI ES502R Xertube Resistance Band with Door Attachment and Exercise Charts (Blue, Heavy)

SPRI ES503R Xertube Resistance Band with Door Attachment and Exercise Charts (Purple, Very Heavy)


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