Tools to Keep Exercise Simple

Back to Basics

Woman Jumping Rope
Getty Images/Corey Jenkins

Keeping things simple these days is often an effort in futility, especially when it comes to exercise.

There are so many products, infomercials, magazines, newspapers, books, websites...all selling this or that, telling us what to do and how to do it. It's enough to make you crazy.

Either way, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and skip working out altogether. Since that's not a great solution, maybe it's time we get back to basics and keep things simple.

Simple workouts, simple equipment, simple goals. Keeping it simple will remind you that moving around doesn't have to be complicated.

Forget the Fancy Stuff

The first place I like simplicity is in my home gym. As a gadget freak, it's hard to resist all those shiny new devices and the excitement of doing something new.

But, what I've learned is that complicated equipment does not make exercise any easier. Learn from my mistakes and keep your home gym simple. Buy things that have a variety of uses and that don't take up too much space. Try some of these ideas:

Exercise Ball

Of every piece of equipment I own, my favorite is consistently the exercise ball. You can find exercise balls at sporting goods stores, discount department stores or get one of my favorites, the Spri Exercise Ball.  Just make sure you get the right size for your height:

55 cm - 4'11" - 5'4"
65 cm - 5'5" - 5'11"
75 cm - 6'0" - 6' 7"

Don't forget, you can also use an exercise ball as an office chair, perfect for strengthening the core while helping with your posture.

Heart Rate Monitor

A heart rate monitor is a great way to get to know your body and make sure you're working in your target heart rate zone.

This will make your workouts both more comfortable and more efficient. You can find inexpensive heart rate monitors at discount department stores, but higher quality monitors will cost anywhere from $50 to $200 and up.

Exercise Videos

Whether you like home videos or not, it's a great idea to have a stockpile available for short workouts or when you need variety. You can find videos online at Collage Video, at bookstores, department stores and even your local library.


A simple home gym should include at least a few sets of weights, if that's in your budget. If you're a beginner, you might start with 3-10 lbs for women and 8-15 lbs for men, adding on as you get stronger and learn more about lifting weights. You can find inexpensive weights at discount department stores and don't forget to check at local garage sales as well, since many people get rid of unused fitness equipment regularly.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are perfect for a home gym and for travel workouts. They're inexpensive, usually around $5-$20, they don't take up much space and you can do a variety of upper and lower body exercises with them.

  My favorite?  Spri resistance bands.

BOSU Balance Trainer

The BOSU Balance Trainer is an optional piece of equipment and one you may want to wait on if you're just starting out with exercise. If you're more experienced or adventurous, you'll love the variety of balance, strength training, cardio and core exercises you can do. It also adds an element of fun you don't find with other workouts.

Having some basic equipment available is one way to keep things simple, yet effective. Now, you can learn more about creating effective cardio and strength training workouts.

Keep It Simple Cardio - Interval Training

One of the best ways to keep cardio simple, yet effective, is to try interval training.

Interval training involves alternating high-intensity exercise with recovery periods, allowing you to burn more calories, build endurance and get a great workout.

You can do this type of workout with any activity -- walking, running, cycling, swimming or any cardio machine. Below is an example of a simple interval workout you can try at home, outside or at the gym:

5 minutes - Walk/jog to warm up
1 minute - Medium intensity jog or walk
1 minute - Faster, increasing speed or hill climbing to work at a medium-high intensity
1 minute - All out walking or running as fast as you can
2 minutes- Jog/walk to recover
Repeat 2-3 times

Keep in mind that any activity that gets your heart rate up counts as cardio, so you don't need fancy equipment, gym memberships or workout plans for it to count. Whether it's walking, working in the yard or running up and down the stairs while doing chores, there are plenty of ways to fit in simple, short bursts of exercise.

Interval Training Workouts

Keep It Simple Strength Training - Circuit Training

In getting back to basics with strength training, focus on whole body movements that work multiple muscle groups and move quickly, going from one exercise to the next.  This keeps the momentum going and the heart rate up, allowing you to do more in less time.

Circuit Training Workouts

It's great that we have so much information available about exercise and, sometimes, we actually find something useful. However, if you're confused about what to do and how to fit all this work into your life, get back to basics. Keep things simple and it'll be that much easier to make exercise a routine.