The monsoon is not an excuse to sit around and pile on the pounds. No, we are not suggesting you spend your life savings on heavy-duty equipment for the home or the services of a private trainer either.
Look around your home and you're likely to find all the exercise gadgets you need right there.
We got Shalini Bhargava, Director, JGS Fitness Centre, to let you in on how to get started on your own cost-effective home gym.
Instead of dumbbells, beginners can use unopened coke, beer cans or one-litre water bottles for toning and strengthening exercises. They can be used as weights for bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and chest-flys.
To do a chest-fly, lie on a bench, facing the ceiling with the cans in your hand. Hold them parallel to each other over your chest. Keep arms straight or slightly bent, and lower each arm towards the floor, until it's parallel to the ground. Then lift again and start over. Do 16 reps to begin with, and increase steadily or graduate to using heavier weights. This exercise develops pectoral muscles and impacts your biceps.
Sit on a chair and squeeze a basketball between your knees to tone your inner thighs. Hold for 5 counts and release. Repeat 10 times and gradually take things up a notch by squeezing the basketball between your feet. The further the ball is from the muscle you want to tone, the more intense the workout.
Borrow your kids' skipping rope and use it for a great cardiovascular exercise. As this is a high-impact exercise, depending on your technique, you could burn as many as 200 calories with just 15 minutes of skip-rope jumping at a moderate speed.
Using the hula hoop is a great way for beginners to get a moderate amount of exercise. It also shapes your waist, but is not very effective in burning calories. The intensity and time spent doing the activity is significant to calculate how much weight you can lose. According to research by a Canadian kinesiology lab, a hula hoop workout can burn 325 calories an hour.
Jumping on a trampoline offers a good cardiovascular workout and helps develop balance. You can even do yoga poses on it to boost balance. With the right intensity, you could burn 200 calories by putting in 10 minutes of trampoline time.
These are used for strengthening muscles by creating a resistance for them to combat. Wrap a resistance cable around the leg of a couch. While lying on your back, with your head near the cable and knees bent, grab one end of the cable in each hand and pull on each alternately as you crunch your abdomen and curl your head and shoulders off the floor. Start with 8 to 10 reps and gradually increase reps as fitness levels increase.
You can also do side-bends with the resistance band under your feet. Hold one end of the cable in each hand and stand tall. First, lean one way and then straighten your spine before you lean the other way. Do 8 reps on each side, and gradually aim to double this.
Stand in front of a dining chair, with your back against the chair's back and feet parallel to it. Stretch your arms out in front of you at shoulder level. Bend slowly at the hips, always making sure your knees are in line with your ankles. Then lift up to the standing position. Do at least 12 reps to begin with.
A Swiss exercise ball offers a core workout and is excellent as you can do myriad exercises and your back is supported at all times. Use the Swiss ball to boost flexibility, balance and strengthen muscles. With your stomach on the Swiss ball, one foot on the floor and your arms out for balance, raise one leg as high as you can and hold for 5 seconds. Then, change legs and repeat. Do 10 reps for each leg. You could also do push-ups, with your legs stretched out and your feet over the ball.
Tricep Dips are another exercise you can use the Swiss ball for. Stand in front of the ball. Then, leaning back, with knees bent, place hands on the ball behind you. Next, lean towards the exercise ball and then lower yourself slowly to the floor in front of the ball. Then lift up again and repeat 10 times.
A variety of exercise DVDs are available in the market today. You can choose one that demonstrates yoga, aerobics or one that's designed for muscle toning depending on your goal. A towel makes for a good exercise mat option. For yoga, however, it's advisable to invest in a slip-proof mat with better grip.