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5 easy gym equipment swaps

By The Health News Team | August 11, 2020
Woman sitting on yoga mat with arm wiping away sweat from brow

While gyms in San Diego are closed, people are turning more and more to at-home workouts. But with equipment such as weights and resistance bands in high demand, you may have to get a little creative.

Brian Lehner, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and exercise instructor at the Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital, says you don’t need equipment to have a productive workout.

“You are limited only by your imagination when it comes to working out. Body weight exercises are still a staple of many programs,” he says.

Lehner shares these five simple swaps for popular gym equipment:

1. Use water bottles instead of foam rollers
Don’t have a foam roller? No need to worry. All you need is a rolling pin or stainless steel water bottle. “For a quick hack, throw your water bottle in the freezer for 20 minutes and now you have a cold roller,” says Lehner.

You can also get creative with foot rollers by using a wine bottle or tennis or lacrosse ball.

2. Try towels in place of resistance bands
Most people have a variety of towel sizes at home that can be used for certain stretches during your workout, in lieu of resistance bands. Towels can also be used to build stability muscles as you work to hold position during exercises.
“You can place towels under your feet for a variety of exercises, such as hamstring curls, mountain climbers and lunge varieties. The added benefit of some of these exercises is that you will clean the floors as well,” says Lehner.

3. Swap kettlebells for gallon jugs
By using milk or water gallon containers as weights, you can reuse and work out at the same time. Fill them with water or sand, and lift.

“The jug handle will make it easier to control and when full, each container weighs about 8.6 pounds,” says Lehner. “These are great for any upper body exercises or as a substitute for a kettlebell.”

4. Instead of weights, use a backpack
Skip the trendy weighted backpack; a standard backpack can help stand in for weights in a variety of different exercises — it is one of the most versatile swaps you can make.

“You can easily control the weight by changing how full the bag is and the straps act as handles for you to grasp. You can throw it on your back for lower body exercises or hang on to improve grip strength,” Lehner shares.

5. No equipment, no problem — use your body
The easiest swap you can make is to use your body weight. There are plenty of home workouts and exercises that don’t involve any equipment at all. Planks, wall sits and squats all help you feel the burn without any additional weight needed.

No matter what at-home equipment swaps you choose, it is important to stay active during quarantine.

“The hardest part about working out at home is getting started. The key is to keep moving,” says Lehner. “Use the five-minute rule. Set a timer for five minutes and start your exercise. At the end of the five minutes, if you are feeling good, then do another five minutes and so on. If you are not feeling it, then give yourself a congratulatory high-five. Five minutes of activity is better than none.”

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