Get motivated to work out more by setting up a simple home gym

Stephanie Mansour recommends the best exercise tools, whether you prefer no equipment or an exercise machine.

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By Stephanie Mansour

Is your New Year’s resolution to get in better shape starting to fall to the wayside? Whether you’re dragging your feet on a gym membership or are just finding it harder to get motivated, we have a solution for you that doesn’t require leaving the house.

At-home workouts are all the rage right now and there are hundreds of options. They are super popular right now for a few reasons. First, there’s a low barrier to entry - it's super simple to fit in a workout at home, especially if you have your own equipment staring at you in the face. No advanced sign-up or travel required! Also, there's something for everyone - every fitness level, fitness goal, personality, and budget.

How can you pick the one that'll best suit your lifestyle, budget and goals?

I vetted some of this year’s most popular and trendiest at-home workouts for you based on my experience as a health & fitness expert, and host of the national show “Step It Up with Steph.”

First, let's start with the basics. What do you really need to get in an at-home workout, besides a yoga mat? I recommend choosing one of the following pieces of equipment to step it up in your at home workouts:

  • Resistance bands are elastic bands that are used for strength training. I love these because you can use them instead of dumbbells and machines at the gym. You can use them to target the arms in side extensions and bicep curls, and target the back with bent over rows. You can also use them to work the chest and triceps.
  • Mini bands are small elastic bands that add additional resistance to regular strength training movements, especially lower body movements. I like them because you use them to maintain proper alignment and work smaller core and stabilizing muscles. Mini bands target the hips, glutes, and legs. Specifically, I encourage my private weight loss clients to wrap a mini band around their upper thighs during their squats to ensure perfect form and to work their gluteus medius.
  • A medicine ball is another great piece of equipment that you could add to your at home workout. It’s basically a weighted ball used for strength training. This can make basic exercises twice as hard just by holding it while performing other exercises. It targets the whole body and adds cardio to your workouts.
  • Balance boards are another trendy piece of equipment you can use at home. It’s a wobbly piece of equipment that challenges your body’s balance and coordination. Standing on the board targets the stabilizing muscles around the ankles and knees as well as the core.

One exercise you can do with two of these pieces is a mini squat: Use the mini band around the thighs while holding the medicine ball at your chest. Step your feet as wide as his hips, and bend your knees to lower your glutes halfway down into a modified squat. Pull your abs in towards your spine, and exhale as you press down through your heels to stand up straight. This exercise is working the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core, which will help support the low back. The mini band ensures that your hips stay in proper alignment, and the medicine ball adds in a level of difficulty to this basic squat.

Another trend right now is at-home workout systems that don’t take up a lot of space and also provide classes that you can stream into your living room on your TV or tablet. These workouts have their own pieces of equipment, like special bands, balls and gliders that you can use as props. You can watch the workouts if you sign up for a membership and follow the classes in your living room. This eliminates the need to make up workout moves and many of these systems have online groups, so you can ask questions, make comments and interact with the workout leaders. It can feel like being part of a community. These programs are generally more expensive than a single piece of small workout equipment, like the balance board mentioned above.

Need some motivation but you want to avoid equipment or just make less of an investment? Another huge trend right now is downloadable workouts and apps. There are many you can find in the app store on your smart phone or tablet. You can search for these by the name of a celebrity trainer or by the type of workout. There’s everything from yoga apps to full body workout apps and everything in between. Many of these offer free trials and then a monthly fee to continue using the app and streaming the workouts. There’s a workout for every mood, level and goal!

Finally, I offer the “step it up” FREE 21-day challenge that is a holistic workout program including confidence boosting exercises so you feel good mentally and physically. The workouts include basic exercises that are easy to follow and require only 15 minutes a day to get results!

Stephanie Mansour is health and fitness expert, certified personal trainer and weight-loss coach for women. She hosts “Step It Up with Steph” on American Public Television. Join her complimentary health and weight-loss challenge here!