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Recession-proof a good fitness routine

Tightened budgets need not squeeze fitness from a woman's lifestyle. In the upcoming The Women's Home Workout Bible, (Human Kinetics, 2009), best-selling author Brad Schoenfeld explains how savvy purchases can create an effective home gym with just $100.

Schoenfeld, author of the popular book Sculpting Her Body Perfect (Human Kinetics, 2007), advises obtaining resistance training equipment with available funds, since anyone can achieve a good cardio workout without spending money. ”Walking, jogging and running outdoors are free activities that burn fat and improve cardiorespiratory function,” he says. “The same thing goes for callisthenic exercises, such as skipping in place and doing squat thrusts and jumping jacks.”

Many resistance exercises can also be done without equipment, Schoenfeld notes, by simply using body weight. Exercises such as crunches, push-ups and calf raises cost nothing and tax muscles, and can be made more or less difficult by modifying positioning. 

To complement body weight and equip an effective home gym, Schoenfeld suggests purchasing five key items: a floor exercise mat, a stability ball, a chinning bar, leg weights and a set of strength bands.  While many people may already own a floor mat and stability ball, Schoenfeld elaborates on the chinning bar. “This handy device allows you to both work your back from multiple angles and perform hanging abdominal exercises,” he explains, and suggests purchasing a doorway unit rather than a wall-mounted bar so it can be removed easily without damaging interior walls.

Lightweight and versatile, resistance bands help simulate cable-pulley movements at a fraction of the cost. “One of the best things about resistance bands is that they can adapt to a wide range of exercises, many of which are difficult or impossible to approximate with free weights or machines,” says Schoenfeld. “You can use resistance bands for movement in any direction, affording huge latitude to vary the training angle and maximize muscle involvement.”

Leg weights strap around the ankles, making many non-weighted lower-body exercises more challenging, and some can be strapped around the wrists for an extra upper-body challenge, Schoenfeld explains. He suggests an adjustable 10-pound set rather than a 5-pound option, to accommodate increasing strength as workouts continue.

“When in doubt, start out slow,” Schoenfeld summarizes. “You can always add to your collection as you go along.”  His Women's Home Workout Bible provides a blueprint for averything associated with home training.  In addition to advice on purchasing equipment, Schoenfeld outlines exercises and provides 12 four-week programs for conditioning, sculpting and core stability, plus three leves of fat loss cardio workouts. 

For more information, see Women's Home Workout Bible.