should you set up your home gym in your garage? here's what you need to know
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I'm Mickie. I run One Strong Southern Girl from Small Town, TN. I love what I do. I want you to remember me because I helped changed your life.
Discover how you can revive your home exercise routine with the most underused piece of exercise equipment on the market today.
It’s a fact–you can spice up your workouts by adding the right tools to your home gym.
Now, if you’ve been to One Strong Southern Girl before then you know I specialize in reviewing home exercise programs, products and services. So, a few good exercise videos (or exercise on demand memberships) for your personal library are the first tools you should invest in.
I’m going to help you decide what to buy next.
There are dumbbells, bands, discs, mats, stability balls, and more.
So, where do you start?
This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. You can get more information about that here.
An aerobic step (AKA exercise step, aerobic bench or aerobic platform) is the fitness tool that’s going to get you the most bang for your buck. Hands down.
Step aerobics used to be one style of workout where the instructor would show you a few simple dance-type moves and then build on them until you were doing an entire dance-inspired routine on the step.
That style of step aerobics is still a huge part of the fitness industry. But that classic use of the step isn’t for everyone. Maybe that kind of program is too complicated for you or maybe you prefer a workout with more strength-training and less choreography.
What you need to know is that the use of the step has expanded.
If traditional step aerobics doesn’t interest you then keep in mind that the aerobic step is now used as a prop for high and low-impact exercise, resistance training, body pump routines, plyometrics, and HiiT workouts (high-intensity interval training) as well as traditional step aerobics.
You can find hundreds of program options that are different than the classic step style and use the workout step as a tool to help you burn more calories and add variety to your exercise routine.
*I use Cathe Friedrich videos in all of my examples because I’m familiar with her incredible workouts and because she was one of the instructors that introduced the world to step aerobics but there are a TON of programs on the market that use an exercise step. Check out the links at the end of this article to discover several ideas.
Here’s an example of using an aerobic step as a tool (prop) for HiiT training in Strong and Sweaty Boot Camp:
And here’s a workout that uses the step as a tool for HiiT circuits:
And here’s a classic choreographed step routine that I love:
Party Rockin’ Step 1 (this program is advanced but really fun).
If you regularly do home workouts then you know there are a LOT more options for you to choose from if you have an exercise step.
While discs, tubing, or bands are used in a few fitness programs, you’ll find a workout stepper in hundreds of different programs.
The fact is that owning an exercise step will open up a ton of new workout options for you.
Ok, so I’ve convinced you to get a aerobic step. Now what?
You need an exercise bench that’s wide (about 16″ wide and 43″ long) and uses risers under it.
Do not try and save space by getting anything smaller with narrow supports under it (aka a ‘circuit step’). Those kind are not safe.
Trust me on this. They tend to move underneath you and the platform is too small to do step correctly.
Getting a cheaper version in this case will not pay off. Spend the money on the good one.
Also, when you start to branch out and do more step workouts you might want to get more risers for your step.
This type of aerobic step allows you to add more risers safely.
An exercise step is an investment. I understand that.
However, it’s no more expensive than a good pair of jeans or a meal for 4 people at a nice restaurant (and actually cheaper than most dress shoes).
And this is your health we’re talking about. So, worth every penny.
Some logistics of owning a step…
People frequently tell me they don’t have room for a gym sized aerobic step. I understand.
In my early 20’s I lived in a 700 sq foot apartment with two kids. I had a hard time finding a place to put my exercise equipment.
I used a space in the corner of the room to pile everything up as tidy as I could.
I’d pull out what I needed every time I worked out and put it away when I was done. I have more space to store my step and other exercise equipment today.
I recommend you find a corner/nook/closet to use as a designated space for your step (and any other exercise equipment you have) so that it’s out of the way when you’re not using it, but still close enough to be pulled out quickly for a workout.
You can break down your aerobic step when you’re not using it. I usually lean the platform against the wall and stack the risers in the corner.
Not sure if you’ll have enough room to USE an aerobic step? Use the pro tip below BEFORE you buy…
Pro Tip– Cut out a piece of cloth or construction paper that’s 43″ X 16″ and lay it on the floor where you workout. This will help you envision how much space you’re going to need. (And remember, you’ll need several feet around the aerobic step, too.)
I know it’s a pain to get everything out every time you need it but you don’t want your step to become that treadmill you resent every time you walk into the room as it gathers dust and takes up space you could use for something else.
Learn more with this article >> Your Ultimate Guide to Buying and Using an Aerobic Step
What you spend your hard-earned money on is up to you. But for most people exercise has a tendency to become boring and all-too-easy to put off if it’s not something you look forward to doing.
Think about what’s going to inspire you and keep you motivated to work out.
It’s ok to invest in the things that make you the best person you can be. Make your fitness a priority. You won’t regret it.
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