So you're into your home rowing machine, use it everyday and follow a structured program, but then you read about the importance of cross-training and mixing up your fitness activities. So should you buy an exercise bike, elliptical trainer or treadmill? If you money and space that's great! But if you don't have one or the other, or neither, don't panic.
Your rowing machine is more than capable of taking care of your cardio-vascular fitness. A rower can also contribute to strength and conditioning, but in a limited way. But what about balance, core and coordination training? Sadly, not so much.
But never fear, here are two suggestions that will take care of these at home, and for only a few extra dollars.
Excercise Ball (Swiss ball)
The simple, yet incredibly versatile exercise ball is a great addition to your home gym. Starting from around $20, you can get yourself a gym-quality ball and pump.
There are dozens of exercises DVDs and posters for using a ball to work on your core and toning needs. But one of my favorites is simply sitting on it - see left. You can do this while watching TV or listening to music and work on your core and balance at the same time.
The trick is to relax and let your body work out what's necessary to stay balanced on the top. And once you're feeling more confident, try kneeling on the ball to up the ante and work your quadriceps as well.
So why not give it a go and complement your rowing with a ball.
Dyna-bands (also known as therabands)
Who would have thought a stretchy piece of elastic could be so useful? But running neck and neck with the exercise ball for first place in the basic bit of kit, the dyna-band can give you a wide range of resistance exercises to work your muscles for less than $8. Or you can choose a set with differing levels of resistance if you're feeling flush.
These bands can be used by gripping both ends and simply stretching to provide the resistance. Obviously they're not going to provide as much resistance as a set of weights, but these can be used in many positions that weights cannot and therefore work a variation of muscles.
They are also small and light and can be taken anywhere, so effectively you can take your 'home gym' with you. When away, you could even sit on the floor with your legs straight, place the middle of the band over your feet, take both ends and then 'row' back against the resistance. Not quite as good as a rowing machine admittedly, but it's better than nothing.
So for just $30 you could add two pieces of equipment to your home gym and work on your core, muscle tone, balance and coordination - plus it also gives you something different to do as part of your training program. And as we all know, variety prevents boredom which keeps you coming back for more :0)
Any other ideas for working out on a budget?
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.