11 Indispensable Fitness Tools for Busy Professionals

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, two of the top five New Year’s resolutions for 2015 center on some kind of fitness-related goal, whether it be ‘getting fit and healthy’ or simply, ‘losing weight’.  Where it gets interesting and scary, from a statistical perspective, is measuring how long people keep their resolutions.

Percent of people who last longer than a month:  64%

Percent of people who last longer than six months:  46%

Percent of people who make it through one year:  8%

With 60 days already in the rear view mirror for 2016, are your New Year commitments still going strong or have they started to wane?  Is getting-in shape on your long, to-accomplish-list for 2016?  

How about staying-in shape?  That’s actually the harder part, isn’t it?  

When it comes to exercise, the top two reasons new programs peter-out are due to a lack time and access to fitness equipment.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the need to have access to complex gym equipment, trainers and programs, most people never make it through the ‘getting-in’ part to enjoy the incredible benefits awaiting them in the ‘staying-in‘ part.

Here’s the good news – there’s a better way.   

As a regular reader, you know of my passionate position that personal growth is the trigger for professional growth – not the reverse.  As you personally stretch yourself to achieve and grow in new ways, you bring refreshed energy, focus and a confident mindset to your leadership role in the workplace.

As I shared a few weeks ago, the most viewed article of 2015 was “Can Exercise Make You a Better Leader”.  Since that time, not only have you messaged me wanting more on the leadership-enhancing effect of fitness, but you’ve also ranked health, fitness and wellness as one of the top two personal growth topics most important to you.  

In order to get to the ‘staying-in’ part, where you realize the positive benefits of a fit and healthy lifestyle, I need to help you get past the ‘getting-in’ part.  Ultimately, my goal is to help you turn your new fitness goals into permanent habits – to do this, you need the following:

  1. A set of easy-to-use, easy-to-access, on-demand fitness tools
  2. A fitness regime that’s fast, simple and effective

My objective is to provide you with both the tools and the regime that can be immediately integrated into your busy schedule.   This week’s post will outline the list of tools and a forthcoming article will address the regime needed to put the tools in action.

So, off we go!  In no specific order, here are 11 timeless fitness tools that should be part of your arsenal:

Stretchy Bands:  Stretchy bands are compact for home environments and for suitcases.  If you’re not using them for stretching or even, continuous tension-type exercises on a regular basis, you should be.  They’re effective for attacking tightness in your hamstrings, calves, lower back, shoulders, and even, your neck – all of the areas that get tight sitting in front of screens or during long, cross country plane fights.

Speed Rope:  As with stretchy bands, a jump rope is a fitness tool that’s easy to throw in your suitcase.  Under time crunch after a long day at the office or early in the morning, a 10 minute jump-rope workout can do wonders for getting your heart rate up and jump-starting your energy.  If the weather is nice, you can even take it outside on a parking lot or patio area.    

Whey Protein:  Even though this is not designed to be a list of nutrition items, I’ve included whey protein as an essential fitness tool.  As you begin an exercise program, you’re body will require more protein and nutrients for increasing your overall capacity, strength and energy.  Whey protein is an extremely fast and easy way to get the extra protein your body needs as you progress in your training.  You can find whey virtually anywhere, from powdered form to sport drinks and bars in a airport concession stands (easy to pack in your carry-on bag).  Making the right nutritional choices has never been easier – and, your body will thank you for it!

Pull-Up Bar:  The ability to hang from a pull-up bar against the force of gravity will always be one of the great strength and muscle builders.  While difficult at first, as you increase in strength, the number of possible exercises that you can perform using a pull-up bar will rapidly increase.  The first pull-up bar I ever used was a wooden drapery rod routed through the holes of exposed i-beams in an unfinished basement.  My point is that the pull-up bar is easy to find or create, depending on your circumstances.

Dumbbell Set:  If you’re not training for the NFL combine, I highly recommend using dumbbells for weight training over straight bars.  Dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion and overall stretch through your muscles, not to mention being easier on your joints longer-term.  Perhaps most important, there’s an endless number of exercises that we can accomplish with dumbbells.  A good dumbbell set might only occupy a 4 – 6 foot space against a wall, making it ideal for home gyms and hotel fitness rooms.  If you’re needing something more compact for your home, here is a great option.

Adjustable Bench:  Included in the picture above is an example of an adjustable bench that you will commonly find in hotel fitness rooms, or even as an item that might fit in a small room at home.  The adjustable nature of the bench will allow you to work multiple muscle groups from a variety of angles.

The Great Outdoors:  One of my favorite – especially when the weather is nice!  The great outdoors is always accessible to you.  Whether you’re going for a morning jog, utilizing hotel parking lot, a patio by the pool, or even a grassy hill nearby, the options for a quick and effective workout are limitless.

Treadmill with Parallel Sidebars:   From home gyms to hotel fitness rooms, it’s hard to imagine not being able to locate a treadmill in close proximity.  Being a big believer in variety as a key to sustaining a fitness program, I love having access to a treadmill in addition to the workouts that can happen outdoors, on floor or elsewhere.  In addition, if you happen to have access to a treadmill with parallel sidebars – even better! – there are several fantastic upper body exercises that I will include in Part 2.  If you’re contemplating purchasing a treadmill for home, I highly recommend anything by Lifestyle.     

Exercise Ball:  Obviously not a tool that would be easy to throw in your luggage, but certainly something you might find in most hotel fitness rooms, not to mention an easy tool to store at home in a closet.  I really like the exercise ball for stabilization exercises and for introducing variety into a number of dumbbell exercises.  It’s a tremendous tool for abdominal type exercises, as it reach deep into your stabilizing muscle groups, essential for building a strong back.  

Dip Belt:  As with the exercise ball, probably not something you’re going to carry with you while you travel or even, be lucky enough to find in hotel fitness rooms.  However, I highly recommend you get one of these for your mini-home gym.  It’s essential for dialing up the intensity on upper body strength work during quick, morning or evening workout.  As part of the collage image above, I’ve included in the upper, right hand corner.  Here is a link to the one on Amazon that I own and recommend.  

The Floor:  Wherever you are, you have one of these, right?  The floor eliminates excuses. If you have 15 minutes in the morning or before bed (even in hotels) you have one of the greatest fitness tools ever invented.  There’s no limit to the variety or challenge that you can create with a multitude of floor exercises.  

So, there you have it.  No fancy equipment or expensive machines – just the basic tools you need to establish a strong foundation for BOTH getting-in and staying-in shape.  It all sets up very well as a home gym.  This is the exact list of equipment that I’ve relied on personally to build fitness-as-a-habit amidst a busy family and career life.

Most of what’s on the list is either incredibly cheap and easy to acquire, or you already can access it.  If you don’t have the wherewithal to add a compact set of dumbbells or treadmill to your arsenal immediately, you can rely on many of the other tools in the interim.

Aren’t you pleasantly surprised by the incredible simplicity of the tools list?  Encouraged? Or, perhaps you’re a bit skeptical – could it really be possible to both get-in shape and stay-in shape with such a list of simple, easy-to-use tools?

If you think this list is simple, wait until you get your hands on Part 2, and see just how easy it is to put them into action.

For the busy professional or leader-under-demands-galore, this might be the year for you to finally get-in and stay-in shape.

It might be the year that you finally become part of the 8%, regardless of how busy you are.

Or, it might be the year that you find a different excuse.

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