(CARLSBAD, CA) – Are trips to the gym becoming an endless battle for you? After ducking out of your business meeting, picking up the dry cleaning, whipping up a stir-fry dinner for the family, and chauffeuring the kids to soccer practice, you finally don your sneakers and grab your sweat towel. Too bad all the machines are taken. And when you finally get on a machine, it takes ten minutes to make changes in the seat, weights, and countless other levers to fit your body.
Fortunately, there are quality props that offer a top-notch workout right at home. These props don’t hog a lot of storage space. Even better, these props allow you to simulate everyday movements, such as twisting around to reach your alarm clock to hit the snooze button. Used by both medical and fitness professionals, three of the best fitness props this decade are the stability ball, resistance band, and medicine ball.
The Stability Ball
When you perform exercises on a stability ball, your body works as an integrated unit to maintain your balance. The ball is comfortable and supportive because it conforms to the shape of your body as you press into it. At the same time, the ball increases the intensity of your workout. That’s because you use core-stabilizing muscles not typically needed for traditional exercise equipment.
Still not convinced to get the ball rolling? Consider research from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Exercisers who performed their bench presses on a ball instead of the ground worked their abdominal muscles 70 percent harder and their upper arm and shoulder muscles 62 percent more.
When selecting a ball, choose a size that allows you to sit on the ball with your feet flat and your thighs parallel to the ground. Don’t inflate the ball to its maximum capacity, as a firmer ball is harder for maintaining your balance.
The resistance band ramps up your workout because you use a greater range of motion. Machines dictate where you start and stop your movement, but resistance bands can prepare your body for real-life motions.
Resistance bands are also the most practical fitness tool on the market. They are inexpensive, ranging from $10-$20, and they make great traveling companions!
Resistance bands come in varying degrees of difficulty, notated by their color. Choose a band that provides enough resistance to make your last few reps feel difficult.
The medicine ball is about the size of a volleyball and weighs anywhere from two to 30 pounds. Medicine balls can be used in exercises to build your core abdominal and back muscles. You can also mimic real-life movements with a medicine ball, such as throwing, swinging, and rotational movements.
Different weights of medicine balls are appropriate for different purposes. Try an 8-15 pound ball for your abdominal workout, a 4-10 pound ball for tossing exercises, and a 15-20 pound ball for hamstring and quadriceps exercises. If you just want to purchase one all-around ball, your best bet is a 6-pound ball for a woman and 10-pound ball for a man.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.