One of the biggest challenges we face when considering an at-home workout for personal training clients is the lack of equipment. Clients who are used to training at a gym where they usually choose resistance equipment might be confused about how to replicate the same training stimulus at home.
We must not fall into the trap of thinking that the equipment IS the workout.
The equipment we have access to is just one tool to achieve the desired stimulus for the workout. If we can look beyond the kit, we can replicate very similar results with quite minimal equipment at home.
Budget-Friendly OptionsResistance bands are a fantastic option for any home workout. They are incredibly cost-effective, and they take up almost no space.
There are bundles which range from light to very heavy resistance, so you have a broad scope to start with a more comfortable, lighter band while your client gets used to using the equipment safely.
There are longer "CrossFit style" resistance bands as well as mini bands which are sometimes called physio loops. Both can provide an additional challenge in movements where your client hinges, squats, pushes and pulls.
There are pre made programmes available on PT Distinction which structure entire workouts around having just a resistance band at home and nothing else. With some creative thought, a resistance band workout can be challenging for even the fittest clients.
Pull up bars can be safely affixed inside a doorway and put away when not in use. If your clients live in a rented property, you may want to encourage them to test that their bar can be used without leaving a mark on the paint. All clients should check their pull up bars are securely fixed and can take their weight before training with them. There is a range of pull up bar products available for under £40.
Swiss balls are versatile for core work, balance, agility and flexible yoga practices. They are an ideal product for pregnant clients, and it can often be medically recommended. Swiss balls, sometimes called fitness balls, don't cost much. There is a range of sizes for below £20. These products are inflatable, so be sure that if your client doesn't already have a pump at home that they're buying one which includes a one.
Space Saving OptionsIf your client has minimal room at home to store equipment and they need a versatile piece of kit that takes up almost no space, they could benefit from a kettlebell. Kettlebells can be used in every single movement pattern. They provide a considerable challenge to strength, grip and endurance.
If clients are unfamiliar with kettlebell movement patterns, an alternative could be a dumbbell or two. It wouldn't be necessary to get a bench, provided the client had enough mobility to get up and down off the floor.
Both kettlebells and dumbbells are priced according to their weight; the heavier the item, the more expensive it is. Taking the time to educate your client about what could be an appropriate weight selection for their strength and skill level will be important in making sure they get an enjoyable and challenging workout.
Paired with either of these space-saving options could be a skipping rope. It alone could be used to achieve an impressive level of fitness, to say nothing of the coordination and agility involved in a boxer style conditioning circuit.
Deeply Committed SolutionsFor those clients who are committed to their training and are interested in investing some money into home equipment, they may be interested in a squat rack. Free-standing racks, sometimes called mobile squat racks, are available starting around £200.
However, attention should be paid to the amount of weight it can withstand. It will be essential to consider if you cater to a Powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting population where the capacity of the rack may need to be higher.
They must not stop at the rack; clients will also need a barbell and plate weights. Again they should consider the capacity of the items, as equipment which is available to buy online might not meet industrial gym safety standards. If they enjoy barbell sports such as Powerlifting or Olympic Weightlifting, you may want to educate them about their options with regards to bearing bars vs. bushings. It's quality consideration in their investment in their bar - and will significantly alter the cost of the barbell.
Obviously with racks should be properly fixed to the floor and flooring should be able to take the wight. Generally this should include specialist gym flooring on a concrete base.
Clients who are more interested in cardio equipment will have a range of options. If space and the number of machines they want to buy is limited, a good quality exercise bike or rowing machine can be a great long-term investment. There are lots of specialist communities online aimed at supporting these two at-home workouts. Shopping around for the features which are of interest to them would be advisable. There are subscription services, such as Peloton for a considerable investment - or picking up second-hand items for under £50.
Improvised EquipmentIf your clients are die-hard gym fans and don't want to buy any equipment for their homes - you can improvise! You are limited only by your imagination and your understanding of the mechanics of the movement itself.
It's useful to remember 1L of water is the equivalent to 1kg of weight when we're making our calculations. We can use sturdy furniture, staircases and garden space for exercise purposes.
Using a towel draped over a secure door can help us to mimic those hard to replicate pulling movements at home for pull-ups or inverted rows. A soft cloth could be an excellent alternative to a yoga mat for clients looking to protect their joints when stretching and performing their mobility drills.
Indeed, we must encourage our clients to be sensible and only to recommend the equipment they have used in the past that are familiar and proven to be safe. Working out at home without supervision isn't the right time to push past the clients' skill level, and the last thing we want is for them to get injured.
On another note, if you know your client can kick ass, encourage them to look for opportunities where nobody would think to look. Logs in the back garden? Great for all sorts of lifts, carries or drags. A heavy rucksack can be used to make most movements more challenging.
Starting with simple, familiar movements and building in proficiency will be the best long term approach. The most important part of helping your clients with their workouts at home is to help them find solutions that will serve their level.