At this point in the quarantine journey, many of our favorite boutique studios, instructors, and personal trainers have found a new home for training online. From Instagram Live sessions to one-on-one time with our trainers via Facetime, many have managed to keep this part of their daily routine intact, with the only seemingly missing puzzle piece being the lack of professional workout essentials. That said, many household items can double as exercise equipment — really!
Whether you were an avid gym go-er or just simply don’t have the space for miscellaneous equipment in your home, you might be struggling when it comes to investing in professional tools like hand weights, resistance bands, and sliding discs (not to mention, many stores are experiencing a shortage of these items as well). But is it really necessary to create a makeshift gym that you won’t plan on using after quarantine? Not necessarily. In fact, ahead, six unexpected items you probably already own (but use for non-fitness purposes) to help you get a great workout session at home.
Household Items To Use As Exercise Equipment: Couch
Whether it’s big, fluffy, and velvet, or a sleek pleather model, this living room essential can be used as a workout bench for a variety of different exercises. You can leverage the sturdiness and weight from the base of the couch or the arms for upper body chest push-ups and triceps dips. The cushion seat portion of the couch can be used to sit on or lean against for body weight bridges and uneven split squats for glute and leg toning. Lastly, the weight of the couch can be used as a base to tuck your feet or hands under for supported sit-ups or assisted leg raises for core work.
Household Items To Use As Exercise Equipment: Slippery Socks
No gliding discs at the ready? Socks can be used on your feet or your hands to help you glide easily and safely on any hardwood or laminate floor when simulating pilates-inspired lunges, arm reaches, or plank jacks. In order to maintain form — and avoid injury — focus on slow controlled movements, keeping your gaze locked on one spot for stability, and working only until you feel generally fatigued.
Household Items To Use As Exercise Equipment: Broom
This is a great piece of equipment to grab for assisted stretches (to open up your shoulders by holding it behind your back or extended above as you lean to either side of the body a few times) or in lieu of a barbell (placing a broom cross two chairs as a bar for pull-ups and push-ups). In fact, it’s been the most regular use my Swiffer has seen in years.
Household Items To Use As Exercise Equipment: Chair
The simple movements of sitting down and standing up can easily be turned into a workout. Just do it about 16 times, with four sets at a slow four-count while moving up and down. These squats are great for subtle core exercises as well — just focus on keeping your core engaged and use your breath, (inhale as you lower and exhale as you stand up and squeeze your glutes together). Your movement pattern should lead from the hips; extend them back like you are trying to sit down and continue pulling your hips back as you bend your knees. This will keep the focus of the exercise on the glutes and hamstrings rather than the quads.
Chairs can also be used for for any weighted exercise you need an upright bench for, such as a shoulder press or bicep curl (just grab some cans from the pantry for weights).
Household Items To Use As Exercise Equipment: Towel
Towels can serve as an unexpected hero to create extra tension for abdominal exercises. Grab both ends of a hand towel, keeping it taut while your arms are extended to fire up the shoulder blades.
Towels can also help assist your crunches by keeping your arms taut and in front of your chest as you extend back and sit-up, or make for more challenging crunches by keeping your arms extended overhead the whole time, forcing you to use more of your back muscles. Whether you are keeping your arms forward to counterbalance or overhead to advance these sit-ups, just focus on bracing your core the entire time, exhale in the exertion or "sit-up" portion and inhale on the way back.
Household Items To Use As Exercise Equipment: Reusable Water Bottle
Tight from a workout? Try using your reusable water bottle as a makeshift foam roller — the density of the metal will help aid in myofascial release (physical therapy that addresses tightness in the muscles). Roll on your water bottle until you find what feels like a tight knot and hold your body on the spot for about 30 seconds and go back to rolling until you find another knot.
Foam rolling is a generally safe technique, but you want to focus on massaging the muscle belly rather than any hard bony parts of the body. In general, the smaller the water bottle the more intense the sensation and myofascial release will be, but if it’s painful try using a water bottle with a larger surface area.