Exercising at home: get a good workout with these tips

Susanne Loacker

When it comes to deciding whether or not we will actually use the newly purchased gym membership, the journey is often the decisive factor. That’s why the smartest idea is to install a gym in your own home. Then even the pouring rain can’t count as an excuse – after all, you don’t even have to leave the house. Here we give you some tips for working out at home.

A man is sitting on a stationary spinning bike. Shelves, a sofa and a chair can be seen in the background.
© Getty Images / Abel Mitja Varela

In this article

What sort of exercise: strength or endurance?

Strength or endurance – that’s the crucial question for all athletes. Of course, this is always down to personal preferences – but if in doubt, the answer is: both. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a whole range of equipment and add an extension to your house for it. Instead, ask yourself what kind of exercise you enjoy. That way, you can build a home gym that is specifically tailored to your needs – you will usually need no more than one or two machines (if any).

The luxury version: combined devices

If you can give up a whole room – with a window for ventilation – then investing in a luxury version would be one option: depending on your personal preferences, opt for a crosstrainer (for example the model from Ellypsis at Hammer Fitness for 1,299 francs, price on 16 September 2020) or a rowing machine – both have the advantage of training both endurance and strength, and not only your legs. Rowing machines don’t necessarily have to look like torture devices, as shown by this high-quality “Aqua Rower” by Kettler, which is available for about 1,700 francs (price on 16 September 2020).

Tip: it’s ideal if your new fitness room has space for a screen, because there’s nothing more boring than standing on the crosstrainer for 90 minutes without distraction.

The picture shows a person on a rowing ergometer.

Rowing is a great full body workout that trains both strength and endurance.

Keeping fit at home

Are you a sworn runner or enthusiastic jogger? Then a treadmill is ideal. Here the focus is on endurance. With interval training, i.e. a combination of slow and fast running, you can strengthen your cardiovascular system even with short training units.

The problem with treadmills is that they take up quite a lot of space, and the high-quality versions are expensive. They are also noisy, especially the more affordable models. This means it’s smarter not to buy a new device to start off with, but to find a higher quality model second hand. This will allow you to test whether the treadmill will stand the test of time in everyday use. You can then go on to make a larger investment.

Tip: some gyms sell used cardio machines at regular intervals before replacing them with new ones – why not inquire, it could be worthwhile.

If you want a new device, but don’t have much space, the Deskfit office version without a frame, available for about 560 francs (price on 16 September 2020), could be an alternative. But only if you’re steady on your feet, have a good sense of balance and can walk in a straight line without difficulty.

Power without dumbbells: get fit via app

Strength training needs neither a power machine nor countless dumbbells. It’s also quite possible to exercise your muscles very effectively with your own body weight. If you really want dumbbells, fill empty PET bottles with sand to begin with – so that you can adjust the weight to your performance. Most of the time people buy dumbbells that are too light, because they underestimate their own increase in strength.

A good app for strength exercises with your own body weight is Gymondo. Here you will find different classes depending on your personal workout goals.

A young woman is doing a plank on a purple yoga mat. Her smartphone lies in front of her on the mat.

Much cheaper than personal training at the gym: your own yoga mat and a smart app.

Endurance with little space: a stepper or roller

Would you like to improve your endurance but don’t have room for a bike or a crosstrainer? Then you can buy either a stepper, like this version by Tunturi from Shark Fitness for 139 francs (price on 16 September 2020) – which you can hide under the bed after training – or a roller, also known as a bicycle trainer, like this model by Elite, available from Bikster for 300 francs (price on 16 September 2020). This means you can do laps outside in good weather but mount your racing bike on the roller in no time at all in cold or rainy weather. Thanks to apps like Zwift you still don’t have to miss out on a ride with friends. Instead of going out cycling in the mountains, meet up for virtual rides in Wattopia.

Attention: especially when cycling, you sweat a lot when there’s no airstream. It’s best to put a yoga mat under the bike to protect the floor. A fan can provide headwind. The chrome-plated version from Galaxus for 74.20 francs (price on 16 September 2020) is a real eye-catcher.

Endurance with the built-in fun factor: a trampoline

If you have very high ceilings or a covered forecourt, a mini trampoline like this one from Shark Fitness, can be a fun solution – even for people who are usually reluctant to work out. Prices start from 159 francs (price on 16 September 2020). You don’t necessarily have to jump: “normal” exercises such as squats are doubly effective on the mini trampoline, because the flexible floor trains both strength and stability. This is especially recommended for office workers because it’s great for back pain caused by sitting so much.

“Non-training” against back pain

No equipment, no sweat. But what should you do about the back pain caused by sitting at a desk all day? The minimal version of a gym is an unstable base. A “Balance Pad” like this one from Gorilla sports for around 45 francs (price on 16 September 2020), is available at specialist stores in different colors. You can strengthen your back simply by standing on it – and keeping your balance. A free alternative is a terry towel folded over several times.

However, for non-training to be really effective, it’s important to look for an activity that you consistently perform standing on this wobbly pad. Whether you brush your teeth, use the telephone or fold the laundry is up to you. Once you’ve practiced a little, try it on one leg.

Conclusion: get fit at home

Whether you prefer endurance or strength training, excercising is also possible at home. You don’t even need any equipment for many exercises. A towel is sufficient for everyday back exercise, for example. But if you want to get your whole body in shape, you can consider installing a mini gym at home – often a good rowing machine is sufficient, because it trains the whole body. In any case, we wish you a lot of fun getting into shape.

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