The question: My mom has asked for "fitness stuff" for Christmas. She wants to work out at home. Are there inexpensive yet effective pieces of exercise equipment I can buy her?
The answer: You can absolutely get your mom a great gift without spending a ton of money. Inexpensive fitness basics like the foam roller, dumbbells, stability balls, resistance bands and skipping ropes are a great base for any gym. When it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle, the key is consistency, not cost.
(Side note: Christmas and fitness are my two favourite topics, so much so that I wear Christmas socks the entire month of December!)
Last year for Christmas, I bought my mom a resistance band and door-frame attachment. The attachment is a piece of cloth with a loop at one end that the resistance band slides through. There is a ball at the other end that hooks through the door. The brilliance of the attachment is that it allows you to use the band like the cable machine at the gym. Your mom will be able to do many different exercises, from triceps press downs to rows. Go with this combo if you want to spend around $20.
If your budget is more like $100, buy a few sets of dumbbells (start with five and eight pounds) and a stability ball. Resistance training is important, especially for women as we age. Make sure that the exercise ball is the correct size for your mother's frame. If space is an issue, buy a sit-fit cushion instead of a ball – they provide a similar balance challenge, but take up less space.
Personally, I love the foam roller. It is the only piece of equipment I keep at home. It is a great tool for massaging muscles post-workout and lying on it helps to improve posture. Plus, doing weights on it will allow your mom to work her core and upper-body simultaneously.
Lastly, a nice cushy mat is not a necessity, but it beats laying on a towel any day.
Trainer's tip: Knowing how to properly use equipment is key. Try printing out sample exercises and add them to your mom's gift. Having a sample routine often makes working out less intimidating. Plus, if your mom is anything like my mom, she won't want to search the Internet for exercises! Alternatively, give her a fitness DVD so the instructor can guide her through proper form. The yoga DVDs I bought my mom were a big hit.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for over 10 years. Her website is kathleentrotter.com.