10 affordable home gym ideas that actually work for people who hate going to the gym
Photo by Kade Beasley on Unsplash
woman in blue shirt and black leather boots

They say love is the greatest gift of all. And that gift usually comes in the form of calories and carbs during the holidays. So what better way to show you care than providing your loved ones with everything they need to turn that "amore" into "a-less." Here are 10 great ideas for anyone looking to get into shape and have fun doing it.



1. TRX Suspension Trainers are blessedly simple and easy to set up. These straps fit right in your doorframe, and use your bodyweight to build muscle, strengthen your core and improve cardio. There are countless video tutorials and actual workouts online that will help guide you. There is no stopping to move equipment around during your workout, and you won't need to buy anything else as you get stronger because it is all based on angles and bodyweight. This is truly one of my favorites.


topless man in black pants holding black and yellow exercise equipment Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash


2. A classic punching bag. For those of you who just feel like punching something sometimes, I say (in the words the Italian Stallion in Rocky 3) "Go for it." Nothing combines stress relief with exercise better than boxing. There are a number of heavy bags to choose from and bundles that include everything from wraps and gloves to speed bags and double end bags. This is the most fun you can have while getting in shape. Until the double end bag comes back and nails you in the face. Then it gets personal.


woman in black sports bra and black shorts leaning on orange and black boxing ring Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash


3. Resistance bands are far more versatile and portable than dumbbells. Much like TRX straps, they offer a number of different exercises and have multiple tension levels depending on your level and type of work out you are looking for. They store easily for those living in small spaces and are a great way to tone muscles.


Free stock photo of body, coach, exercise bands www.pexels.com


4. If you are into planks, then The Stealth Core Trainer is for you. It is a board you rest your elbows on and has a screen with games you can play so you can have fun while strengthening your core.



5. And if games are your thing, the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality system is for you. Even though it is a gaming system, it offers a number of fitness programs to help you meet your goals. Even games like Creed and Beat Saber will get your heart rate going. If you are looking to get in shape quickly, then some of the options on this list will be a better fit. It is pricier than other items, however, this is the perfect gateway for the couch potato to get moving and move into a more serious regiment.




6. Push-Up Stands.If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Push-ups have always been a great way to get in shape, and push-up stands make them even more effective. In addition to providing more range and motion to the exercise, this simple contraption also takes the strain off your wrists for those of you worried about carpal tunnel.



7. Ab Roller. If you are looking for an ab workout, an ab roller is your new best friend. This little guy will make your mid section the most popular hang out for abs. You will be turning abs away at the door due to capacity limitations. Or you could very well find abs that science doesn't even know about.



8. Jump Rope. If your ceiling is tall enough, jumping rope 10 minutes a day will get you into shape real quick. Not only is it great for cardio, but it also works your upper and lower body. It is no wonder that it is a staple in workouts for boxers of all levels.


Jump Rope Sports Game - Free photo on Pixabay pixabay.com


9. Foam Roller. Undoubtedly, if you are pushing yourself your muscles will be sore. For those of us without a personal masseuse at our beck and call, a foam roller is key. Use this handy gizmo to work out the knots, aches and pains that go hand and hand with working out. There are also a bunch of exercises you can do with this useful tool like working the abs, obliques and legs.


Physical therapist strengthens EOD mission readiness www.airforcemedicine.af.mil


10. Magic Bullet and NutriBullet blenders. One of the most important aspects of building muscle is what you put in your body afterwards. Blenders like NutriBullet are a great way to give your muscles the protein and nutrients they need after a workout. Just pop the ingredients in and you have a delicious smoothy in seconds.


File:Magic Bullet and Nutribullet Blenders.jpg - Wikimedia Commons commons.wikimedia.org


Now that you have everything you need to shed those holiday pounds, I say go forth and carb like you have never carbed before. Because when January 1st comes (okay, let's face it...January 2nd), it is time to get down to business and start your journey down Beach Body by April Boulevard.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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