When it comes to maintaining your fitness without access to a gym, there are many lessons we’ve learned through the first wave of COVID-19. Right out of the gate, we learned that those with even the most basic home gym setups immediately became the envy of every gym-goer who suddenly found themselves without their regular fix of weights and cardio.

Many of us were also forced to rethink our previous conceptions of what we considered to be “essential” exercise equipment.

With fitness equipment flying off the shelves at local distributors, and even on Amazon, it became nearly impossible to buy anything for your home gym. With all of that going on, our team at Innovative Fitness quickly realized that, in a pinch, you can probably make due with stuff you’ve got around the house.

A standard kitchen chair proves itself to be a remarkably versatile piece of equipment. You can use it as a box for squats or step-ups. You can use it as a bench for dips or supported rows. You can even use it as a weight and lift it up overhead if you want (and if you’ve got the ceiling clearance.)

We had our Remote Personal Training clients deadlifting crates filled with old records or the ends of their couches (having a family member sit on the couch first if they needed a heavier load.) We had clients rowing, curling, and pressing reusable grocery bags filled with canned goods or books. If you fill a kayaking dry-bag with water you can swing it much like a kettlebell. As a reference, 1 litre of water weighs 2.2lbs. So, swinging a 15L drybag is like swinging a 35lb kettlebell.

Really, the only limits became their imagination.

With all of that being said, having a few pieces of basic equipment can certainly make programming workouts a little easier. A yoga mat makes ground-work quite a bit more comfortable, while a set of resistance bands open up a whole world of additional exercises that can be done. While gyms are currently reopening, many of us are hesitant to get back into things, and with a threat of a second wave still on the horizon, it is still very much on many people’s minds to ensure that they have a solid, useful home gym to fall back on.

A favourite of many of our coaches is the TRX Suspension Trainer. It can be anchored over a door, or permanently mounted to a wall, depending on how serious you want to get with your home gym setup. The number of exercises you can do with that single piece of equipment is off the charts.

A few dumbbells and kettlebells are nice to have, but can add up in cost very quickly if you’re not strategic about your purchases. Do you really need a pair of every weight available? Probably not. A decent pair of adjustable dumbbells might run you a couple hundred dollars, but they’re a lot cheaper than buying each dumbbell individually.

The biggest lesson we learned? Our clients cared less about the equipment than they did about making sure they could still work out with their coaches. The expert guidance and accountability of a great coach is – simply put – irreplaceable.

Want to make sure you’re set up in the event of a second wave? Pick up a few bands, a suspension trainer, and maybe some adjustable weights. Most importantly, get yourself a solid coach who offers Remote Personal Training.

Curtis Christopherson is President and CEO of Innovative Fitness