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Staying fit from the comfort of your own home

Here are the basics for starting your very own home gym.

BOW VALLEY – Easily storable and at the right price, building a home gym start-up is closer to reality than ever before.

As COVID-19 restrictions on Alberta gyms and recreation centres persist, home gyms and work-out spaces are growing in popularity and keen-eyed personal trainer Chelsea Deschamps and her expertise of everything fitness and kinesiology makes it easy to pick the right equipment for any budget and for any space.

If there's one product that would top the list of what to include in any gym, for Dechamps, it's the TRX (total body resistance exercise) and similar suspension/resistance trainer skits. The kits offer a variety of full-body workouts for beginners and longtime gym-goers.

"You can do a lot of different resistance exercises from bicep curls to push ups to a lot of core stuff, cardio stuff and it's a really handy one-stop shop," said Deschamps, owner of Canmore-based Omnia Movement & Performance.

Get creative

A retaining wall for explosive jump workouts; frozen milk jugs for pumping bi’s and tri’s; and squats with bags of flour in your backpack; be flexible with what you use when all else fails.

For the minimal budget gym, Deschamps recommends improvising. Use everyday items to simulate equipment such as filled four-litre water or milk jugs, or by stuffing a backpack full of heavy objects; plus mini and pull up resistance bands, and a stability ball as optional.

Improvising will come in handy as products slowly return to shelves and warehouses.

“You can get creative combining things and just stuff into backpacks to make heavier weights when you need to in the absence of dumbbells,” said Deschamps.

No space, no problem

If you’re home space is a little tight – like that bod is soon going to be – there are exercise devices to work around this, said Deschamps.

To maintain an effective workout routine with minimal space, include dumbbells, mini and pull up resistance bands; and, specifically, a total body resistance exercise (TRX), which offers a variety of challenging exercises.

“If you have minimal space, but an OK budget, then a TRX with some bands are a really awesome way to go and a little easier to find than dumbbells right now and much cheaper to ship,” said Deschamps.

Room to grow

For those with the space and budget to make their home gym a little extra awesome, Deschamps' basics for a full set-up includes dumbbells, resistance bands, TRX, a stability ball, pull up bar, and a bench.

Once the home gym setup is complete, Deschamps offers individualized and group training programs to get the most out of working out through online programs and packages.

"I have done a lot to set people up with this stuff over the course of the pandemic – again for anyone on any budget – we set people up with a program and a plan to educate them on options," Deschamps said.

"We set them up according to whatever [equipment] they have at home, they come see me for a session, learn all the exercises and they can ask questions afterward. Then they come back when they're ready for a new one."

Home gyms around the Bow Valley

With an Olympic lifting area and squat rack setup, the garage gym of Jeff Read, an Alpine Canada skier on the fast-track to becoming an Olympian, was built during the pandemic with big gains in mind.

Speeding down an alpine course at more than 100-kilometres per hour, Read said he and brother Erik’s setup crosses off all the boxes for working out the major muscle groups used for elite skiing.

“The fundamental exercise for us to get our explosive work done is cleans and the Olympic lifting and stuff like that. We do so much raw strength, too, to be able to push hard when we’re two minutes deep in a downhill course and handling those [gates], so it’s a lot specified work, a lot of time under tension for squats and stuff … it’s a lot of hard work but it definitely pays off,” said Read.

Canmore resident Heather Menaglio’s home gym setup uses space-efficient work-out items such as a yoga mat, dumbbells, foam and ab rollers, and resistance bands.

As an avid mountain enthusiast, Menaglio's work-out area's nuance is geared toward core and strength fitness.

“I prefer doing workouts with weights because we can still run, mountain bike and ski outside during the pandemic for cardio. Keeping strong means less chance of injury. Also, being able to keep strong during winter months, it wasn’t clear what was going to happen with the ski hill, so just being able to keep up training depending on whatever happens in the outside world,” she said.

Inside the home gym of Adam Zekry, an amateur MMA fighter and coach at Dark Horse Martial Arts, there is a collection of kettle bells, resistance bands, a yoga mat, ab and foam rollers, and a TRX.

Zekry emphasized the importance of movement in his workout routines.

“The thing I use the most is my running shoes and touring skis because I need to run and move my body," he said. 

"The more I can move my body, the better, so I use my yoga mat a lot. The weights, I differentiate from everything else and everything else is just kind of like creating more movement in my body. But I'd say it’s half and half; it's important to have muscle and strength, and then the other half needing to be limber and be subtle with my movements and body awareness.”

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Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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