Exercising to improve your Bottom Line

Hello, my name is Mike Karban and I am the owner of Totally Toned Personal Training. Got a question for you, how is your bottom line these days? Carrying some extra junk in that proverbial trunk? If you’re like most Americans, your exercise ‘routine’ could use a little tuning up, but what if you’re not ready to go back to the gym? it’s been how long, exactly?!? Or perhaps you want to refine your form at home first, then graduate to those hard-to-hide-from mirrors that line your local gym? 

Another question. Have you relied on exercise fads in the past, such as the Atkins’ Diet, the 8…no 7-minute workout videos, or how about that slick sauna suit (complete with vacuum to suck out the fat, I guess)?  How many such fads we have seen come and go throughout the years? Belts that vibrate the belly fat away, dumbbells that ‘shake’ your muscles into shape, or food plans that enable you to drop that pesky exercise component all together yet still lose weight. There are bulky, expensive and even alien-looking machines ready to take up space and collect dust once their novelty wears off. And who can forget Richard Simmons’ sweating to those oldies, Suzanne Somers’ Thighmaster, or those legwarmers n’ leotards Jane Fonda wore so well in the 80s?  

Not to dismiss all exercise ‘fads’ per se, my aim here is to remind you that overall individual lifestyle changes, such as good nutrition and tapping into your inner drive and motivation, are the real ‘secrets’ that make or break any fad or workout routine. If it worked, the reason it worked was because it was something you got excited about, which in turn got you up and moving. And perhaps because you felt you were on an exercise program, you started watching other facets of your life, such as how much/what you ate, and how active you were. The moral here is that it is up to you to take control of your body, and no machine can do it all for you. Invest in each step toward reaching your goals, more so than just relying on that next big thing that promises to ‘make’ it happen, and take pride in the results you’ll see in your attitude, body, life overall.  

Ok, now let's talk about getting that tighter bottom line without spending too much dime. 

In my professional opinion, the following list of equipment has consistently stood the test of time. Plus, you won’t be upset at the amount of money spent, and the equipment stores away nicely…until your next New Year’s resolution!

5 things you can get for at home workouts…

  • 1-2 sets of dumbbells  (typically 5-8 lbs for women, 15-25 lbs for men)
  • resistance bands/tubing (various colors represent degree of resistance)
  • exercise/stability ball
  • ankle/wrist weights
  • jump rope

Dumbbells are the number one, all-time home workout tool. A simple set of dumbbells can provide you with hundreds of exercises, and a ton of variety in how muscle groups are worked. Dumbbells tend to cost somewhere around $1/lb, perhaps a little less expensive at used retailers, such as Play It Again Sports.

Exercise or ‘resistance’ bands/tubing are a good change-up or substitution to dumbbell workouts. Whereas dumbbells tend to require more of the smaller stabilizing muscle groups, bands/tubing provide slightly different angles/points of resistance, in addition to the fact that sometimes using a different tool or piece of equipment can provide a welcome change in your routine. Most exercises performed with dumbbells can easily be performed with bands/tubing, which come in various levels of resistance and are light weight enough to fit ‘perfectly’ in your travel bag when you’re on vacation!

Exercise/stability balls can provide some variety of exercises in your routine, such as ball squats, crunches, leg raises, and lying leg curls. The ball can also be used in conjunction with dumbbells/bands to increase both balance and core strength.  Examples of dumbbell/band exercises that can be performed using the ball include:

-shoulder/chest press’


-tricep kickbacks

-bicep curls

-lateral raises

Ankle/wrist weights can be used for leg/arm exercises at home and for added weight during cardio workouts. For example, wearing wrist/ankle weights during a walk can increase cardio performance as well as muscle endurance.

The jump rope may be an inexpensive option for those of you who do not have a piece of cardio equipment, or even for those that do, as winter will be coming which means our walking/jogging routes will be covered in snow. Regardless of weather, we still need to do our cardio so jumping rope in the house is a great way to get that heart pumping during the winter months. And unlike the treadmill or stationary bike, it can easily be taken outdoors in the summer as well. Hey, if it worked for Rocky, it can work for you!

Some equipment may come with a workout video, but if not, remember your local library has books, videos, and DVDs that can get you started. Stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s may have some equipment for half the price of other stores, but you may have to search a bit more. Of course sporting goods stores will have a wide selection of equipment in one place, however, retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart might be a less expensive, one-stop shop for the typical exercise-enthusiast. But as with anything, doing the same thing over and over becomes boring and tedious, de-motivating even, and allowing your body to ‘adapt’ to routine activities may cause you to hit that ‘workout plateau.’  Therefore you want to change up the routine, whether it be changing from dumbbells to resistance bands, or substituting bands with dumbbells/exercise ball work. In order for you to be successful with any kind of weight training program, either at home or at the gym, continue to keep the body ‘guessing’ so as to not feel like everything is monotonous because then it becomes a ‘job.’ So, have fun with your workouts, and always challenge yourself more!

 Mike Karban is owner and operator of Miller's Gym and Totally Toned Personal Training.

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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 2:14 PM, 11.11.2010