Gym culture has a hierarchy of fitness equipment that spills over to home and other workout environments — some contraptions are either too intimidating for many people to approach or don’t get the respect they deserve from workout warriors, so they tend to sit motionless against the wall like sixth graders at their first dance.
But once you give these overlooked gym gems a chance you’ll want to make them a standard part of your regimen.
The typical yoga block is just bulky enough to make some class newcomers nervous while drawing derision from some nonyogis who don’t appreciate the practice’s toning and strengthening power.
But using them to expand the depth of your platform pushups to increase your range of motion or with yoga poses to extend your arms and provide proper alignment will make you a believer, whatever kind of workout you’re doing on any given day.
This one sits on the other end of the spectrum as a hulking series of metal poles loaded with giant weights that demands to be pushed and pulled. But its relative safety with no weighted components being lifted off the ground makes it ideal for anybody looking to activate their core and get the lower-body workout of their dreams.
Of course you should start out with light or no weights as you adjust to the load, but as you progress you’ll be amazed by how your strength and endurance skyrockets.
Bosu ball (balance trainer)
In case you’ve ever wondered what these yoga balls sliced in half that may be collecting in the corner of your gym can do for you, you’ll be amazed at the answer. They send a shot of instability into any exercise you try, from lunges to pushups, squats, planks and burpees, training smaller muscles that tend to be neglected sometimes and bolstering your balance skills.
In most cases, beginners start out with the flat side on the floor before graduating to moves with the dome (or half-ball) side meeting the mat.
These may be among the most puzzling sights at the gym — adjustable nylon straps dangling from the ceiling or wall with handles resting near the floor. These are versatile tools for any kind of bodyweight resistance training exercise, developing your strength, balance, core stability and flexibility almost simultaneously.
Since they can be anchored to any stable surface they’re perfect for home use too, whether you’re using them during pullups, pushups, squats, bicep curls or any other movement you want to try.
Most strongly associated with children and elite boxers, many people assume they won’t get much out of jumping rope if they don’t fall into one of those categories.
Many experts and researchers point out it’s an efficient and effective full-body workout that builds bone strength and coordination along with heart and lung health, all while torching calories like a lighter. So humble, yet so potent.