Ask Mike: Can you advise me on home gym equipment?

Exercising at home is a really convenient option for clients who have to fit their workouts around young families, long working hours and generally busy lives. As a personal trainer, I am often asked what gym equipment my clients should invest in to work out at home and the good news is the equipment I recommend is all affordable and easy to find, either online or in and around Bishop’s Stortford.


You don’t need a separate home gym, or even a large room to work out. If you can lay down on the floor with your head and toes clear, you have enough space. If you can reach above your head, that’s a bonus! Without any additional equipment, you can do squats, lunges, sit-ups and pushups.

If you have stairs, you have a step and if you have a chair, you have an elevated surface. Use your furniture to try some dips, incline press ups and elevated lunges.

Additional equipment

My essential equipment kit is made up of 4 key items that every one of my clients should have at home:

Mat: For general exercise, avoid yoga and pilates mats as they tend to be thinner with less cushioning. Choose a mat that is thick enough to protect your hands, knees and back from the hard floor, and the general rule is to find a mat that is longer and wider than you are to cover all exercises you may want to try. Vinyl mats make a good choice, as they are durable and easy to clean.

Skipping rope: Brilliant for home workouts, skipping improves endurance and lung capacity, as well as burning calories and adding some cardio to your fitness plan. Choose a skipping rope that is made of plastic or PVC so that you can use it both indoors and outdoors, and make sure the doubled rope reaches to between your waist and lower ribs – if it’s higher than that it’s too long.

Swiss ball: I am a huge believer that everyone should have a swiss ball in their home. Ideal for core exercises, using a ball requires extra balance, and your body must use more muscles to counter the instability, so you have to work a little harder. There is a great guide to choosing the right size ball, and if you don’t have space to store it away, just use it as an office chair (you need a 26” ball for this).

Foam roller or tennis ball: A foam roller is a great way to massage and release muscle tightness. Known as self myofascial release, the foam roller pushes against painful muscles and trigger points to ease them, for instant self treatment. If you don’t have a foam roller a tennis ball will do, and we have found a visual guide to trigger points, showing you just where to position your tennis ball to release muscle spasms. If the pain continues, book in with Mike or Mark for a Sports Massage for a longer term solution.

Mirrors: You don’t need to invest in a mirrored wall like in the MW Fitness Bishop’s Stortford gym, but exercising in front of a mirror really helps to check your form and alignment when you are exercising. (Even with mirrors it can be tricky to get your form exactly right – if you are working out with kettle bells outside the studio, please be very careful – it is so easy to injure yourself if you are not using the right technique – when you are in the gym with your personal trainer they are monitoring your form extremely closely!).

When you (and we!) are confident that your technique is spot on for every part of your workout, we are happy to advise you on more advanced exercise equipment that you can use to create a more challenging and varied routine, but working out at home really doesn’t require expensive specialist kit.

We can order any equipment for you; from a foam roller to kitting out your entire gym, just let us know what you need and we can take the hassle out of searching for and ordering for you. Just drop us an email at [email protected]