Household Equipment Substitutes
Exercising from home is not a new idea, but it has definitely become a popular way to fit a workout into our busy schedules without the effort of leaving the house. There are so many benefits to exercising from home and there is plenty you can do with your own body weight and gravity alone. But if you’ve been working out at home for a little while now, you might be looking for ways to spice up and mix up your routine without investing in too much equipment, not to mention, finding a home for it all!
Han has been working with what her clients have at home for years now, so here are her favourite household items that can be used to level up your home workouts.
Hand Weights and dumbbells are a great piece of equipment to have at home to help build more strength in your arms and legs. The only trouble is that you often need a few different sets for different exercises and body parts so they can start to take up space and get expensive, plus this is probably the easiest piece of equipment to replicate at home.
If you’re doing upper body exercises, you can use anything that weighs around 0.5 - 1.5kg:
- Tins of food
- Bottles of water
- Bags of rice or flour
Just make sure you can hold the item easily with a comfortable grip and keep it sealed so it doesn’t spill mid-workout.
If you’re using a weight to add load to your lower body work such as squats, hip thrusts or lunges, my favourite sub is my Le Creuset pot with a bag of rice or flour inside. The handles on the sides make it really easy to hold at chest height while you work through your exercises. You can use any heavy pot and you can put anything inside it to add a good few kilos to strengthen your legs.
The Pilates ball is a very underrated piece of equipment in my eyes. You can use it in so many different ways to strengthen your abdominals, progress your core stability, strengthen your inner thigh muscles and make any of your usual Pilates exercises more challenging and interesting. The good news is that if you don’t have one at home, you have options to give a similar effect to the Pilates ball:
- Rolled towel
- Folded cushion
- Folded blanket
The ball works by giving you something to squeeze or lie on so anything soft you have at home that can go between your knees or ankles, behind your knee or under your tailbone will work perfectly!
A resistance band is more difficult to replicate at home, but there are some exercises that can work with items you probably already have around the house. Exercises where you place the band around your knees such as bridges and squats, can work well with a belt instead. You won’t get the stretchy resistance of a band, but you’ll be able to press outwards against the belt to engage your glutes more effectively. Buckle the belt with your knees a little wider than hip width apart and maintain the outward resistance through the range of the exercise.
If you have a band at home, but the one in the class you are doing looks different, there are ways to work with what you have:
- If you have a long, straight band, you can tie it into a loop to work like a booty band. This works well for exercises like clams, donkey kicks and bridges. Just make sure you tie the knot nice and tight so it doesn’t come undone!
- If you have a booty band, you can hook a towel or strap through it and hold each end to work more like a straight band. This works well for exercises like rows, bicep curls and reverse flys.
For self massage and myofascial release, the spiky ball is a very popular choice, but any firm, round object will do the trick at home:
- Tennis ball
- Cricket ball
- Golf ball
The spikes work well to grip against a wall, so if you find your ball is sliding around too much, try lying or sitting on the ground for your self massage instead. Ideally you will spend 60-90 seconds on each muscle that you are working on, applying pressure you can feel but that doesn’t cause any lasting pain.
The foam roller has so many different uses, you can roll out tight muscles, you can lie longways to stretch your chest or challenge your core and you can lie horizontally to open your chest and extend your upper spine. Although it’s difficult to get the exact same feeling as your foam roller, there are ways to achieve similar results with items you may have at home:
- For rolling out tight muscles, try using a ball (as above) instead. You can roll up and down, side to side, or around in circles to relieve muscle tension. Try rolling against a wall or down on the ground to get a similar effect.
- For challenging your core and opening your chest, roll up a big beach towel and lie long ways with it down the centre of your spine. In this position you can open your arms out wide to stretch your chest, or work through your table top exercises for a deep core workout.
- To extend your upper spine, use the same rolled towel as above, but double the thickness. Lie horizontally over the towel, placing it around shoulder blade level. Place your hands behind your head and slowly arch backwards over the towel. You can move the towel up or down to stretch different levels of your spine.
Although a lot of this equipment is designed specifically for Pilates, there are ways to get around buying and storing a whole studio worth of stuff by using items you already have at home. Once you’ve used a few of these at-home substitutes, you might get a better idea of what is worth investing in and what you’re happy to keep replicating.
We’d love to hear from you if you have any other great ideas for home equipment substitutes, or if you have any questions for Han, please don’t hesitate to reach out via DM @ourpilates or email firstname.lastname@example.org.