I’m the first to admit that there are certain times of the year when I care more about working out—say, before a vacation that requires my extended exposure in a bikini, or during holidays that begin with feasting and end with my having to look hot in a tiny little dress.
This year, both of these hit at the same time for me, so I really got to thinking about ways to get a little more bang for my gym time—without having to feel awkward navigating the weight room.
Luckily, there are a ton of multipurpose, easy-to-use gym accessories to choose from. From BOSU balls to foam rollers, I searched out creative ways to chisel my abs (and everything else) by vacation time.
BOSU Balance Trainer
Pronounced bo-sue, this half ball has become a staple in weight rooms and home gyms. For good reason, too—it can be used in enough ways to provide a full-body toning workout and a cardio session. According to the official BOSU Web site, the odd name refers to “both sides utilized,” since you can use the BOSU with the ball side either up or down to mix up your routine.
The versatile tool lets people perform balance, strength, and power exercises together, says Chad Johnston, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer. In fact, when I bought one of these at a local sports equipment store, it came with a DVD of cardio and strengthening exercises. Potential cardio moves range from doing jumping lunges on top of or side to side on the ball; for balance, try doing the usual dumbbell curls while balancing on top.
Feel easy? Flip the ball over so the round side is on the ground, and balance on that. “This really engages the core during what would normally be a single-muscle exercise,” says Johnston. For more creative BOSU moves, look online.
If you’ve been to a gym in the past five years, you’ve probably seen a pile of body bars in the corner of the weight room. “I work out at home with the Body Bar, and I really like the fact that they don’t take much room to store,” says Marilyn Kroner, the principal media representative for the company.